The value of multilingualism is often overlooked by society in Austria. We speak… (“Wir sprechen…”) supports non-German speakers to showcase their linguistic abilities to their neighbours with self-confidence. The project gives German and non-German speakers space to explore linguistic diversity in their local communities.
2,000 Euro Prize 2022
Sector: Civil Society / Social Economy
Fields of action: Awareness raising, Interculturality, Culture
Project owner: space and place - kulturelle raumgestaltung / space and place - exploring the cultural realm
Responsible person: Brigitte Vettori
"We speak..." encourages people with a native language other than German to perceive this as a strength - both by making linguistic diversity visible on posters and by using native speakers as experts in their language and culture.
We work with shopkeepers, market vendors, and community members in residential neighbourhoods in Vienna. Customers, neighbourhood residents, and passers-by can participate in the project’s short language courses. We speak… also works with a multi-disciplinary team of artists and students, as well as youth and refugee organisations.
We speak... generates enthusiasm and pride among shopkeepers and market vendors. By displaying their employees’ languages skills on posters to the public, their employees’ skills are highlighted in the community. The project presents multilingual community members as experts in their language, while connecting and opening community dialogue in the neighbourhood.
We speak... was initiated in 2014 on Kalvarienberggasse, a lively street in Vienna lined with shops and small businesses. The project was relaunched in Meiselmarktand its local neighbourhood. In 2022, “We speak…” will be hosted in and around Reithofferpark in the 15th district. “We speak...” can be brought to public and residential spaces, as well as promote linguistic diversity through literature and music.
The real value of multilingualism is still overlooked and underestimated by society. We speak… makes diversity experienceable in public space. At the market, communication is casual and friendly; nothing is staged. The project reverses and breaks up social roles: the sellers become experts of skills that have been invisible before; they don’t only offer their usual goods but open their space for informal exchange about languages and cultures. The interaction becomes more personal, the experience of one another and breaks stereotypes.