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What Role Does Language Play In Where Migrants Settle?

A refugee learns the letters of the German language taught by a volunteer in a garden of a private initiative near the refugee camp on August 29, 2015 in Dresden, Germany. Germany is expecting to receive 800,000 migrants this year and is struggling to cope with the record number. Germany is currently struggling to accommodate and process a record-number of asylum seekers from the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans.  (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
A refugee learns the letters of the German language taught by a volunteer in a garden of a private initiative near the refugee camp on August 29, 2015 in Dresden, Germany. Germany is expecting to receive 800,000 migrants this year and is struggling to cope with the record number. Germany is currently struggling to accommodate and process a record-number of asylum seekers from the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

It’s been more than a month since German Chancellor Angela Merkel put out the welcome mat for tens of thousands of migrants stranded in Hungary to come to Germany. No questions asked.

Her actions did not win her the Nobel Peace Prize, nor many fans in Germany – her approval rating has plummeted and citizens have taken to the streets in protest. Cities like Hamburg are scrambling to find a way to house the refugees before the winter cold strikes.

But what about the language barrier between residents and migrants? Will it be easy for them to pick up? Are some migrants choosing to go elsewhere because of an easier transition to their native tongue or because they speak English?

Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson explores the role of linguistics in migration with Ulrich Ammon, author of “The Status of German Language in the World” and a linguistics professor at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany.

Guest

  • Ulrich Ammon, author of “The Status of German Language in the World” and a linguistics professor at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany.

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