Research on Multilingualism

Research on Multilingualism (linguistics)

At the heart of Germanic linguistics at the University of Luxembourg is the issue of multilingualism.

Multilingualism can be understood in different ways, but mostly it is associated with the perspective of the coexistence of different standard languages, exemplified in an extremely interesting way by the Luxembourgish language community with its three official languages, Luxembourgish, French, and German. This confronts German studies with the task of examining the specific function of the German language in the context of Luxembourgish multilingualism.

But multilingualism can also be related to the inner structure of individual languages, with the focus here being for example on the extent to which language-contact phenomena and borrowing processes have shaped, and continue to shape, the development of German (keyword: Anglicization debate). German studies at the University of Luxembourg therefore also studies linguistic-historical processes in general, but especially the perspective of language contact and the critical discourses often linked to it.

Another focus of German studies at the University of Luxembourg is the system of varieties of German, with attention being given not only to their classification into different dialects and sociolects, but also and in particular to the different national standard forms of the German language. According to the approach of ‘pluricentricity’ advocated here, partially different manifestations of the standard norm of German exist not only in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The focus when it comes to the multilingual situation in Luxembourg is on the question of how far an independent standard norm (‘Luxembourg Standard German’) has developed here, too.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Heinz Sieburg (


Research on Multilingualism (literary studies)

Multilingualism has long been the focus of research in language didactics, educational science, and (socio)linguistics, with attention being given to phenomena such as so-called code-switching, the effects of multilingual learning environments, and the special characteristics of bilingual speakers. Like other faculty institutes (Institute of Luxembourg Studies, Institute for Multilingualism Research)German studies at the University of Luxembourg complements these areas of research on multilingualism with a specifically philological perspective. The question here is how literary texts deal with language diversity, and the cultural-political effects that the multilingualism of literary texts has, for example, for the shaping of cultural differences. A wide range of work has been done on this in the past six years, especially as part of the FNR-funded project MULTILING (2011–15), most recently the handbook Literatur und Mehrsprachigkeit (ed. by Till Dembeck and Rolf Parr, Tübingen: Narr 2017).

Contact: Prof. Dr. Till Dembeck (