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Sociolingüística catalana

Linguistic uses and identity in Catalonia,
by Albert Fabà, Olga Gàlvez, Joan Manrúbia and Noemí Ubach


Figure 10. Uses of Catalan in a range of situations and linguistic identity. 2000. Percentagesuse of Catalan in a range of situations and linguistic identity

If we are to interpret the diagram properly, we must remember that the data refers only to individuals who state that they use Catalan, not Spanish or both languages. In other words, what percentage of Catalan-speakers, bilingual individuals and Spanish-speakers state that they use Catalan in these contexts.

Firstly, the line structure is very similar to that of the general data: it is always used more often in more impersonal and official situations than in others involving more personal contact. The only case that might be worth discussing separately is use in the workplace. Here, we see the highest values of Spanish-speakers and the lowest, paradoxically, of Catalan-speakers. It is well-worth remembering that the former consider that knowledge of Catalan makes it easier to find work. Albeit only in specific jobs, (related to administration, teaching, healthcare, etc.), it would seem that this is the most favourable context for using Catalan for those who do not consider it to be their language.

Secondly, it is evident here also that linguistic identity is one of the key elements explaining language use. Catalan-speakers have values of between 76.5% and 87.6% (around 80%), whilst bilingual individuals oscillate between 22.2% and 51.9% (a very important oscillation of almost 30 points) and Spanish-speakers always have very low indices (with the exception of the at work intersection point, with 18.5%).

Finally, written usage is invariably lower than other data (except in the case of bilinguals, although the difference is so small that it is not significant).

3. 2. The language of the last non-domestic conversation

The survey asked about the language used in the interviewee’s last, non-domestic conversation. According to the fieldworkers, the interviewees stopped to think for a moment before giving their answer. The data would therefore seem to be more related to "real" facts than to the opinions of subjects on their use of Catalan.

The result is entirely coherent with those of other surveys, indicating that non-domestic use of Catalan in Catalonia is around 50%.

Now, let us take a look at the intersection with linguistic identity.

Figure 11. Last conversation in Catalan and linguistic identity. 2000. Percentages

last conversation in Catalan and linguistic identity

As we can see, this variable is strongly co-related with use, as we saw in Figure 10, although not entirely.

Thus, if we consider the data from both diagrams, although the majority of Catalan-speakers use Catalan, a minority (between 10 and 20%) do not use it so widely. The same occurs with Spanish-speakers : although the majority use Spanish the most, between around 5 and 15% use Catalan more. However, it all depends, clearly, on the context.

3. 3. Survey Language

We will end this run-through on language use with data on the language in which surveys were conducted. The protocol was very clear. Interviewers were to address the interviewee in Catalan and only to change language if the interviewee did so first.

This data can tell us what the use of Catalan in a favourable context would be, albeit a totally hypothetical context. If all speakers established linguistic contact with a person who spoke to them at the outset in Catalan, the result, in terms of the number of conversations in Catalan, would be this figure.

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