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Sociolingüística catalana

Uses and social representations of languages in the Balearic Islands,
by Ernest Querol


We may wonder what these results mean:

1. If use of the language is linked to the social network and this latter is progressively reduced in generational transmission, the number of speakers will also be reduced.

2. If use of the language correlates mainly with the representation of this latter, and it is very much linked to the social network, as the representation increases, so too will the number of new speakers. In other words, as in the case of the Balearic Islands, if the representation of Spanish (which is correlative to that of Catalan), drops, the use of Catalan will increase.

The consequences of these results are clear: to reverse a process of language shift, we must ensure:

1. That the variable that best correlates with use is social representation;

2. That generational transmission is not negative for the language in decline or in danger of decline.

We will not discuss here the measures that need to be taken to promote a change in the current trend. To summarise, we will simply affirm that the validation of our theoretical and methodological model in the context of the Balearic Islands provides us with a very productive tool for the study of processes of language shift and for the design of strategies for reversing these latter. Moreover, these advances in sociology of language could also be very useful in other areas of social science.

All in all, these fruits guarantee the model that we proposed. That is to say, we can provide a very good explanation of the linguistic choices of speakers. As we know, there is always room for improvement, but we are in no doubt about the fact that we have made an important step in discovering the reasons for the use of Catalan in the Balearic Islands, which was our main aim.

7. Bibliography

MERTON, R. K. and KITT, A. S. (1950): "Contributions to the theory of reference group behavior", in Merton, R. K. I Lazarsfeld, P. F. Continuities in social research: studies in the scope and method of the American soldier, Glencoe, Ill, Free Press.

JODELET, D. (1989): "Représentations sociales: un domaine en expansion", in Jodelet, D.: Les représentations sociales. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

QUEROL, E. (2002a): "Els valencians i el valencià: comparació amb els catalans i amb els balears", framework conference for the Tercer Congrés de l'Escola Valenciana, València [at press].

QUEROL, E. (2002b): Els catalans i el català. Usos i representacions socials. Barcelona: Ed. Empúries [at press].

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