After the interaction had finished, it
was necessary to take note of how the words Roja and metge had been
pronounced, and attempt to describe the speaker using gender and age variables. The latter
category was divided into three groups wide enough to minimise the risk of error
15-34, 35-54 and over 55 years old.
3.2. The subjective evaluation trial
Individuals in a community identify the other members of the social structure by
means of a number of behaviour patterns, among which are those in the linguistic field.
Language is probably the most powerful social identifier in modern societies. Recognition
of sociolects is therefore a reflection of the level of linguistic awareness of the
speaker and the group (López Morales 1989:206).
(1988:155) shows us the link between the concepts of linguistic behaviour and linguistic
attitude as follows:
"We all know
that not only do we use language as an instrument of communication and knowledge, to
structure our relationships with the outside world and with ourselves, but also that
as a result of these very important functions a language (especially
"ours", but also others) symbolises certain values to each person, we have
certain ideas and notions regarding it and we relate to it not only in an
"instrumental" way but also cognitively and affectively, and even ideologically.
aspects, therefore, affect linguistic behaviour and it is for this reason that they are
the object of sociolinguistic study, which is approached mainly through the concept of
The study of speakers attitudes within the framework of bilingual societies
or those that use a non-standard geographical variety leads us directly to the inclusion
of a new concept that of prestige. In the same way that there are
prestigious individuals or groups, we must also consider the existence of prestigious
uses, independently of the speakers who generate them. However the problem will not be to
confirm its existence, but rather to determine the parameters which define it. From the
linguistic perspective, it has been related to correction, the norm, acceptability
and suitability, according to the paradigm selected. From the sociolinguistic point
of view, the approaches have also been varied. Ferguson (1959), when defining diglossia,
attributes it to great variety. Labov (1972a:81,184,270 i 273) assigns to it the upper
classes, and Trudgill (1972) theorises on hidden prestige, which is associated with
linguistic uses that do not adapt to the norm.
As can be seen,
studies on linguistic behaviour, attitudes and prestige are extremely important from the
sociolinguistic perspective. In studies of linguistic variation, these works provide
indispensable information for predicting the future direction of variable phenomena. The
correct interpretation of variable rules depends to a large degree on the data obtained
from these studies.
As far as
gathering of this type of data is concerned, there are two types of techniques that may be
used direct and indirect. The first, very frequently used in
theoretical linguistic analysis, consists of questioning the speaker regarding the
grammaticality and/or acceptability of certain traits. It should be remembered that this
procedure is viewed with suspicion by socio-linguists, as it is felt that these
judgements, rather than reflecting the speakers linguistic competence, generally
reflect their subjective attitude (Silva-Corvalán 1989:38). Although the importance of
subjective evaluation is recognised, measuring it by means of indirect techniques, usually
called tests due to their structure, is generally preferred.
The most famous are the following: a) the linguistic insecurity test
(Labov 1966b:178-179; López Morales 1979), which aims to establish indices between what
the speaker believes to be correct and the real use he/she makes of it, and b) the
disguised voices test (Lamberts Mached guise of 1967) (7), which aims to evaluate
varieties or languages which co-exist in conflict within the same community, and c) the lexical
availability test (López Morales 1979), which aims to quantify the differences in the
basic lexical inventory between different layers.
In the work with
which we have exemplified some of the techniques exposed, (Pradilla 1993a),
the conflictive Spanish/Catalan situation without forgetting the homemade
Valencian/Catalan version -was determinant in the choice of an indirect subjective
evaluation technique (8).
The case of Benicarló and the entire North-Occidental Catalan area
is indeed complex, as access to Catalan by the mass media and teaching has modified the
system of inter- and intra-linguistic relationships. This has led to the spread of
prestigious models the Canal 9 and TV3 television channels in audio-visual contexts
and the "Valencian norm" (9) in teaching. The contrast
between these models and the diatopic variety is made clear in the variable researched. In
the face of the range of pronunciations recorded with a dropped yod, voiced and
partially voiceless prepalatal fricatives the hypothesis of a possible action of
norm and prestige could not be dismissed. As a consequence, the objectives of the
subjective evaluation test were the following: a) to determine the degree of linguistic
awareness in the community or its groups according to ability to detect diatopic
and diastratic distribution of the variable phenomenon under investigation; b) to inquire
whether the linguistic variable under study showed an parameter and if so, establish the
grading of variants; c) detect possible prejudices towards any of the variants
(stereotypes) and d) evaluate, if necessary, the presence of hidden prestige.
These types of experiments should be carried out with great care, as it must be
ensured that the evaluation is made according to the variable studied and not for other