Sprachenpolitik und Integration in Ausländerbehörden und Krankenhäusern: Der Fall Berlin und Leipzig

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The social inclusion of migrants not speaking the majority language can be challenge for the government. This contribution focuses on the case of Germany. First, we briefly review the debate about immigrants’ language rights from the point of view of political theory, as well as the resulting policy implications to promote linguistic justice. Secondly, we review of the most important general regulations in Germany that concern communication between public authorities and non German-speakers, focusing on the areas of public administration and administration of justice, as well as on health care. These regulations often provide that linguistic mediation services, e.g., translation and interpreting services, should or can be used. To illustrate the concrete implementation of these regulations, this contribution examines how the immigration offices and two hospitals in the metropole Berlin and the middle-sized city Leipzig manage multilingual communication with foreigners who do not speak German. We use structured in-depth interviews conducted with senior officials of the immigration offices and two hospitals in the two cities. The results show that, although there are no formal language policies in place, the organisations examined nevertheless have adopted a number of pragmatic solutions to deal with multilingualism. These include not only the use of professional language mediation services, but also a certain degree of reliance on improvised interpreters.
Original languageGerman
Pages (from-to)57-84
Number of pages28
JournalJahrbuch der Gesellschaft für Interlinguistik
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Nov 2022


  • Language Policy
  • Germany
  • Health care
  • Public administration
  • Migrants
  • Multilingualism

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