Plurilingualism as a linguistic aspect of pluralism in all its forms is part of the societal challenge of the 21st century. Profound knowledge about the existing languages as well as the socio-cultural situation of their speakers is the basis for a constructive approach to linguistic diversity.

Within this field, the Plurilingualism Research Unit is concerned with the documentation of linguistic diversity in Austria. At the centre of the research is the question of which functions languages have for their speakers and how these languages are anchored in everyday life in Austria.

The Plurilingualism Research Unit takes an intervention-oriented approach to this. The information gained is to be adequately prepared and used in further education in various fields of practice. Furthermore the research results are to form a basis for language policy reports and demands.


The scientific study of the language and culture of the Roma at the University of Graz started in the early 1990s. Initially limited to Burgenland, the Romani Project now covers both Romani as a European minority language as well as the socio-cultural and socio-political situation of its speakers in the European context.

The core area of research is still linguistics and the documentation of the plurality of Romani as part of their cultural evolution. In addition, the Romani Project also contributes to the preservation of culture and identity and thus also to the emancipation of Roma as a European ethnic group through the practical application and implementation of its research results.

Since 2009 the organisation [spiːk] - Sprache, Identität, Kultur is concerned with the Austrian aspects of the Romani Project. [spiːk] is also in charge of the Roma Factsheets and the Romani text collection ROMTEX.

Current projects
of the work area MEHRSPRACHIGKEIT

  • Das Land Steiermark - ABT08-70578/2018

    Multilingual Styria

    The interdisciplinary project ‚Multilingual Styria‘ describes multilingual practices and plurality in the Austrian province of Styria from a diachronic and a synchronic perspective. A focus of the study are the correlations of dominant and dominated languages and varieties in the context of migration, aiming at an analysis of the localized outcomes of global dynamics. The socio-political relevance of languages for single communities and beyond that for society as a whole shall be argued.

    The project comprises the following parts:
    An empirical study documents and describes the multilingual practices and lives of diverse populations and communities in Styria. Closely related to these multiple linguistic practices is the construction of diverse identities in a regional context. This will be achieved through different approaches: the linguistic landscape approach (Gaiser & Matras 2016) and the sociolinguistic-ethnographic approach.

    • The results of the study will lead to the creation of an interactive digital linguistic map of Styria and the production of a documentary short film on multilingual practices and identities.

    The main aims of the project are
    (a) to document regional linguistically based identity constructions, (b) to make visible and create awareness for historically grown plurality as a typical feature of the region, (c) to explore the sociolinguistic phenomena pointing to superdiversity and resulting from more recent migration dynamics (Blommaert/Backus 2012), (d) to facilitate the participation of the public through the interactive character of the project.

  • Eigenprojekt

    Multilingual Graz

    Multilingual Graz documents the language plurality of Graz cooperating both with plurilingual speakers and their associations, as well as with educational institutions and the municipal authorities. The so gathered information on languages in Graz is made accessible via a web page. In the future this information should be used in training offers tailored to the needs of practitioners from various fields. Beyond these research activities Multilingual Graz initiates and supports both cultural and academic activities with respect to multilingualism.

Completed projects
of the work area MEHRSPRACHIGKEIT

  • Eigenprojekt

    Multilingual communities in Graz

    The study Multilingual Communities in Graz is part of the Multilingual-Graz project. During a pilot phase, the sociolinguistic situation of three communities will be analysed. The communities have migrated during the last few decades to Graz:

    Speakers of Farsi of whom some are proficient in other languages of their region of origin;

    Speakers of Kinyarwanda- and Kirundi from Rwanda and Burundi, which in addition to Swahili as lingua franca of their region of origin use the former colonial languages English and/or French;

    Speakers of Turkish, which often use other languages from their region of origin, predominantly Kurmanji.

    By applying semi-structured interviews data on language use, language attitude and language transmission are collected. Language use describes the linguistic repertoire of speech communities reflecting functionality as well as the status of the individual languages. Language attitude as an emotive parameter provides insights into dominant ideologies and the roles of languages for identity formation. Functional and emotive factors affect language transmission, which reveals, among other things, inter-generational changes in language competence and use. The aim of this project is the description of linguistic plurality in the context of urban multilingualism while further demonstrating the socio-political relevance of individual languages.
  • Eigenprojekt

    Linguistic diversity in daily life: initiatives, challenges and demands at institutions in Graz

    Public institutions are central meeting points for people and thus intersections of linguistic interaction. Communication in certain situations poses a challenge in a city like Graz, which possesses great ethnic and linguistic heterogeneity. Visiting a doctor, official authorities or using a public service requires the concerns and needs to be met as ideally as possible. In such cases both sides – staff and clients – profit from mutual understanding.

    The aim of the study is the closer investigation of 60 institutions in different areas (services, the health sector, social institutions, etc.) with regard to their handling of linguistic diversity. This will show which languages are present where and to what extent, and which languages have already taken root in these institutions. Furthermore, institutions often develop innovative measures that allow us to infer conclusions for possible future practices when encountering linguistic diversity

Current projects
of the work area ROMANI

  • Riksbanken Jubileumsfond M18-0113-18

    Romani Language Repertoires in an Open World

    Activities focus on repertoire dynamics of Romani speakers in the highly pluralistic settings of the cultural sphere of South-Eastern Central.The research covers a series of case studies on repertoire dynamics among Romani speakers with a focus on functionality, language transmission, and speakers' attitudes towards their linguistic varieties. This involves language maintenance, shift, and loss among Romani communities and individual Roma under consideration of their respective social and spatial mobility.

Completed projects
of the work area ROMANI

  • FWF P20756-G03

    ROMLEX - Lexikalische Datenbank der Romani-Varietäten

    ROMLEX documents the Romani lexicon. Currently, users have the opportunity to consult materials in over 20 different dialects of Romani and to obtain translations into English, German and other relevant majority languages (Hungarian, Romanian, Serbian etc.) via a freely accessible web page.
  • 09-HERA-JRP-CD-FP-030

    RomIdent - The Role of Language in the Transnational Formation of Romani Identity

    In the framework of the sub-project "Innovative strategies in the use of Romani in institutions and in writing" the Plurilingualism Research Unit investigates language change that is due to the use of Romani in institutional contexts as well as to the production of formal texts. This will be accomplished by establishing a  corpus of formal Romani texts that will be analysed according to the research questions of the project.
  • 511678-LLP-1-2010-1-AT-KA2-MP

    QUALIROM - Quality Education in Romani for Europe

    QUALIROM aims for piloting the Curriculum Framework for Romani (CFR) and the corresponding European Language Portfolio Models (ELPs) which – based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages – were developed by the Council of Europe. Within the framework of the project Romani teaching will take place on different educational levels (primary to tertiary) and in different regions of Europe.
  • 87757-CP-1-2000-1-AT-Comenius-C2

    RomBase - Didactically edited information on Roma

    ROMBASE offers information on the socio-cultural and socio-historical situation of the Roma. By presenting well-researched material, ROMBASE contributes to the decrease of prejudice and thus help combat stigmatization and discrimination. It furthermore aims at improving the educational situation of and about the Roma by giving teachers and students an opportunity to seriously deal with culture and history.
Programmierung: Copyright (c) 2012 - Michael Herold. All rights reserved.