In Stadt und Stadt: Berlin und Ruhrgebiet im Vergleich

  • Philipp Cirkel
  • Ulrike Freywald


The largest and most important urban centres in Germany, Berlin and the Ruhr metropolitan area, share a very similar socio-historical and linguistic past. The vernaculars spoken in these regions are both High German varieties that have developed on Low German substratum. Thus, both varieties have emerged from a language-shift situation and have preserved a number of Low German features. Moreover, both varieties have lost in prestige during the process of massive immigration during the period of industrialisation in the second half of the 19th century. In such contexts, processes of “dialect levelling” are to be expected. Then as now both the Ruhr area and Berlin are hotspots of urban multilingualism and national and international mobility. This lends both linguistic settings a special dynamics and innovative potential. In the light of these parallels it is promising to compare linguistic structures of these varieties in order to gauge whether similar conditions yield similar linguistic developments.

In this paper we investigate two syntactic phenomena which are highly salient both in the Berlin dialect and in Ruhr German. Using corpus data of spoken language we compare frequencies and formal features of (i) preposition-determiner cliticisation, and (ii) split pronominal adverbs in both varieties. As an overall result it can be stated that both phenomena show up more pronouncedly and more straigtforwardly in Ruhr German than in the Berlin dialect; thus it can be surmised that the latter follows the same path as the former, but has not yet reached the “final destination”.

Cirkel, P., & Freywald , U. (2021). In Stadt und Stadt: Berlin und Ruhrgebiet im Vergleich. Linguistik Online, 110(5), 193–227.