This part of our portfolio presents a review of our Linguistic Landscape Study at Hermannplatz. After analysing the collected data and reflecting on our research method we asked ourselves what is missing, what would we change if we would do this project again and what would we have done if we would have had more time.
After looking at our study results we were surprised to discover that they were so different from our expectations. Instead of finding a very multilingual landscape around Hermannplatz we discovered, that Hermannplatz happens to be a very bilingual landscape with signs of shop fronts being mainly written in German and English. Not so much in Turkish and Arabic as we were expecting.
As we were a little confused about the results we asked ourselves what we could have missed or why our expectations were so different from our results. Thus, we had another look at the pictures we took just outside Hermannplatz, the side streets around Hermannplatz and especially Hermannstraße.
One of the main things we found out, is that expanding our radius towards Hermannstraße and the side streets of Hermannplatz would have given us a very different perspective and therefore very different results, as signs get (unexpectedly) way more multilingual as you move your focus further away from Hermannplatz. There you find mainly multilingual signs in Turkish, Arabic etc.
Therefore, to get the study results we were expecting we would have had to expand our research radius from Hermannplatz towards the side streets and especially towards Sonnenallee and Hermannstraße. But since the size of our study made it necessary to choose a small radius, we concentrated our focus on Hermannplatz only.
Increasing multilingualism in close proximity to Hermannplatz
B. Possible Reasons
Next, we thought about possible reasons for our unexpected outcome (finding mainly bilingual signs instead of multilingual signs). Here the idea of different social and economical influences came to our minds.
First thoughts went towards the possibility of economical influences. As Lorena describes in her personal reflection, during the past 8 years she has been living in this area a lot of things have changed. The older German shops have disappeared and commercialized chains like ‘Telekom’ and ‘Commerzbank’ have taken their place.
Another possible reason might be the spreading of gentrification in the north of Neukölln. This thesis is supported by the statement of Amin, a student at the European University Viadrina, and his personal experience living in the close area of Hermannplatz which Kenza describes in her part of the portfolio.
"We’ve been here since 2005. I think my parents chose this flat because we needed a bigger place, since my family was growing. There are some schools around and a playground and the place was very familiar… until this thing with the gentrification started. You know, firstly our landlord changed and we got a big corporation instead of this private person. A lot of graffitis started sprouting up on the walls. Plus, a lot of people who have been there a long time had to leave because of those high rents… now, there is always vandalism in this building and rich guys. The whole street is filled up with cafes, bars and ateliers, and of course, yuppies."
C. Prospects/ Further Studies
A last thought about possible further studies include the idea that If we would have had more time for a wider study to get clearer results, they could include:
A. A comparative study, comparing for example Hermannstraße and Wilmersdorfer Straße.
B. Diachronic aspects, which would include an analysis of Hermannplatz and how it changed. Either between a few years ago and today or today and in 5 years time.
C. A small analysis of the different languages found on Hermannplatz, including questions about which languages were found and why.
What did we personally take from this study:
Mainly a heightened awareness of our surroundings. However, since every member of this team has an individual view on this, each of us has created a personal reflection about this study, their experiences and thoughts. All of them are included in the personal reflections part of this portfolio.