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Sociolingüística catalana
Winter 2002

The Studies of the Directorate General for Language Policy of the Generalitat of Catalonia (1994-2002), by Joan M. Romaní

This paper reviews the main features of 87 studies on sociolinguistics and language planning commissioned or promoted by the Directorate General for Language Policy (DGLP) of the Ministry of Culture of the Catalan government, listed by topics and their characteristics, between 1st January 1994 and 31st December 2001. These studies are available at the Centre of Documentation in Sociolinguistics (CDS) of the DGLP.


PDF printing version. 167 k



0. Introduction

1. Description of the studies

2. Explanation of the studies
2.1 General studies
2.2 Joint studies with other language planning bodies of
2.3 Specific or sectorial studies
2.4 Studies of students in scholarship
2.5 Advice to other language planning bodies
2.6 Awards and grants

3. Dissemination of results

4. Methodology

5. Applicability of research in language policy

6. Conclusions

7. Bibliography
7.1 Printed bibliography
7.2 Electronic bibliography

0. Introduction

The first sociolinguistic research promoted by the DGLP was carried out shortly after its foundation. The need to obtain information on the linguistic attitudes of the population led to the studies that later formed the basis for the learning material "Digui, digui…". The latter made use of a sociolinguistic survey on perspectives of use, attitudes and needs of the adult population of the area of Barcelona (in its widest sense). The main results of this survey were published in 1986]. The complete research activities of the DGLP between 1982 and 1993 have been summarized by Jordi Bañeres i Joan Maria Romaní (1994). In that paper, the authors pointed out that:

"… Many of these studies are of an excellent quality –most of them were carried out by the best companies specialized in public opinion research– but are not very well known by the scientific community. To reverse this state of affairs is precisely the aim of this paper, i.e. to bring to light things that have remained hidden… We are convinced these studies not only must be used as consultation material by the Administration but have also a high documental and scientific value as a reflection of the evolution of the Catalan sociolinguistic situation."

In my paper, with the same commitment to spreading knowledge of the studies that have been carried out, what areas have been surveyed and which methodology has been used, I am going to review the most relevant studies and surveys carried out from 1994 up to now. It would be impossible to describe all the studies since the DGLP has been working on more than 80 and to review them all would produce far too long an article.

1. Description of the studies

Due to the tasks typical of the DGLP, the vast majority of these studies deal with the topics stated below:

  • Sociolinguistics (especially regarding the Catalan language and its situation in different sectorial and geographical domains).

  • Language policy and planning.

  • Education and didactics, both concerning Catalan for Catalan or non-Catalan speakers and general theories about teaching methods for any language.

  • Language law refering both to individual and collective rights.

  • Linguistic anthropology, via studies of different linguistic communities, plurilingualism and multiculturalism.

  • Other topics dealing with the Catalan language.

The proportion of studies according to ttopic is shown in figure 1:

Figure 1. Percentages of studies by topics

Figure 1. Percentages of studies by topics

This figure shows that half of the research covers only two domains, i.e. the socio-economic sector (24%) –a domain to which much effort was devoted throughout the period- and the population sector (25%), both general and by particular age groups. There are few studies on the education domain insofar as this area is competence of the Ministry of Education which carries out or promotes studies according to its own needs. On the other hand, it has to be made clear that the studies are of various different kinds:

  • General or macro studies, with information about the population as a whole, as for example the works analyzing the linguistic data provided by censuses or surveys based on representative samples of the adult population.

  • Specific studies or studies refering to a particular sector of the population, city or town, or to language use in a specific domain such as the labelling of shops or in petrol stations.

  • Studies granted to students or research studies entered forto the prizes awarded by the DGLP (for example the Antoni M. Badia i Margarit Award for empirical sociolinguistic research or the John McDowell Award for innovation and research in the field of English teaching or teaching of Catalan as first or second language). In view of the specific subjects of this publication, I will not review here the works refering to teaching methods, a topic already studied in detail in different issues of Noves SL and Llengua i Ús.

  • Studies carried out within the framework of scholarships granted since 1996 to students in Political Science and Sociology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Figure 2 shows the proportions of studies according to their origin:

Figure 2. Origin of studies

Figure 2. Origin of studies

The main bulk of the research is made up of external studies (more than one-third) and awards given by the DGLP. Over the next several years, the proportion made up by this kind of study will decrease given that the awards will be changed and from next year onwards they will be awarded jointly with the Institut d’Estudis Catalans (IEC) [Institute of Catalan Studies].

2. Explanation of the studies

As stated above, limits of space prevent us in this article from providing detailed information concerning every study or piece of research reviewed, nor would that be appropriate. For those interested in further details, click here (PDF 86 k) gives information about the objectives, methodology and data gathering processes of these studies. The bibliography also lists the books and articles arising from the studies.

2.1 General studies

In this section I should stress the relevance of the following studies:

  • The two studies carried out from the data of the 1991 and 1996 censuses, the former, coordinated by Modest Reixach (Reixach, 1997) provided an analysis of the census of the three Catalan-speaking Spanish territories while the latter, coordinated by Fc. Xavier Vila (Vila, 2000) focused only on the data of the Enquesta oficial de població de Catalunya of 1996, carried out to obtain, among others, data on linguistic competence and forced mobility, as these items could not be included in the municipal censuses. In this case and for the first time, a chapter was devoted to knowledge of Occitan in the Aran Valley in north west Catalonia. These two studies give continuity to the series of studies of the 1981 and 1986 linguistic censuses.

  • Several surveys adult population samples undertaken with different objectives:

    a) To design and to elaborate the INUSCAT (INdex of USe of CATalan), a double indicator containing on the one hand an objective value made up of different statistical sources and on the other, a subjective value, obtained by means of a survey. Three studies were done: Inuscat 1994. Estudi subjectiu. La parla de la gent. Ús del català i producció cultural (J. Aragay and J. Sabaté); Inuscat 1995: Estudi subjectiu i Estudi objectiu: El món socioeconòmic i l'Administració (J. Aragay, J. Sabaté and R. Mur); and Inuscat 1996: Estudi subjectiu. Estudi objectiu/subjectiu: La societat civil catalana i l'ús del català (J. Aragay and R. Mur).

    b) To learn about the interpersonal uses of the adult population, either within the family or at work, using a representative sample of 3,323 people aged 15 and over. This survey was carried out by telephone in 1997 and was conceived as a study parallel to the 1996 census in that it completed the data regarding knowledge with data on actual language use. [This study is further quoted as DYM 97].

    c) To evaluate the level of approval of movies in Catalan by the adult population of Catalonia. This survey was carried out by telephone in 1997 with a representative sample of 1,707 people aged 15 and over, and included both cinema goers and non-cinema goers.

    d) To learn about the opinion citizens had regarding the language policy of the Catalan government and the application of Law 1/1998 on Language Policy one year after it had been passed.

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