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Sociolingüística catalana

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


e) To inquire about the opinion of the adult population regarding the use and knowledge of Catalan in a variety of economic activities and in particular in those related to daily life. The survey was carried out by GABISE based on a large sample (4,021 people) during the last months of the year 1999.

2.2 Joint studies with other language planning bodies

In this section I bring together two kinds of study: those in cooperation with the Consorci per a la Normalització Lingüística [Consortium for Linguistic Normalization] and those carried out together with other bodies of language planning that deal with other languages.

The two most relevant pieces of research of the first type, both for their conception and application are:

  • Indexplà, a tool enabling one to detect the level of Catalan use in particular organizations or associations that wish to initiate a process of linguistic normalization or to evaluate progress in this domain. It is based on an indicator system made up of six factors and it can be easily used by means of the Excel spreadsheet. It has been in use since 1996 in more than 125 organizations (Escolà, 1996).

  • Ofercat, a tool enabling us to know the level of linguistic "supply" in Catalan in a particular geographical area. Up to now, it has been used in the towns and cities of Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Tremp, Manresa, Lloret, Tarragona and Barcelona (Ciutat Vella or Old City). It studies the offer of Catalan (either institutional and non-institutional) by gathering information through 124 indicators structured into 5 sectors. The graphic representation is achieved by means of specific software.

Both tools have as common features that they are easy to apply, provide very clear graphic presentation of results and can to be applied at different points in time in order to determine change over time. Although we already knew that in all facets of the public administration and the school system, use of Catalan is very high, these instruments made it possible to quantify such differences in a contrastable way and to describe the evolution over periods of time.

With regard to the second type of research, carried out in cooperation with foreign institutions working in other sociolinguistic contexts, several studies have been completed and subsequently submitted to the European Union. The following are the most relevant:

  • LUS 2. Language Use Surveys: a sociolinguistic approach to the minority languages in the European Union, a study carried out within the framework of the project "Networks and Minority Language Ability and Use" commissioned to DGLP by the DG XXII of the Commission. Language use was studied for Catalan in Majorca, Occitan in Midi-Pyrénées and Franco-Provençal in the Aosta Valley.

  • Pentecosta ["Whitsun"] Report: knowledge and language use among bilingualised Spanish-speaking young people in Catalonia, study carried out within the framework of the project "Developing Policies to Improve the Conversion of Language Competence into Language Use among Young Adult Groups", commissioned by the DG XXIII of the European Commission. Xavier Vila and Jaume Farràs are the authors of the study which was also carried out in Galicia, Friesland, Basque Country, Ireland and Wales. The aim was to study by means of in-depth interviews the differences between the behaviour of those youngsters who adopted the planned language (Catalan, Basque, Welsh…) as usual language and that of those who did not.

  • Euromosaic 2: Extension of the study to Austria, Finland and Sweden / Ampliació de l'estudi Euromosaic sobre llengües minoritzades als nous estats membres (Suècia, Finlàndia i Àustria). This study, coordinated by M. Strubell (Barcelona), P. Nelde (Brussels) and G. Williams (Bangor), was commissioned by the DG XXII of the European Commission. It is an extension of the report submitted in 1995 on the production and reproduction of minority language groups in the EU.

These studies have enabled us to establish differences and resemblances across several European minority language communities, to pool activities and experiences of language policy with experts and researchers, and to share methodologies.

2.3 Specific or sectorial studies

In order to set up a language policy it is necessary to have information both about general and specific aspects. We present these studies in two main sections:

a) the studies in the socio-economic sector using an observation methodology which is not usual in Catalan sociolinguistics:

  • A series of surveys on the advertisements in the streets and shop signs and notices (both commercial and institutional) in order to gauge the use of languages in this domain in Barcelona, carried out in 1997 and 1999 by IPSOS-ECO Consulting. In 1999 the study was extended to the cities of Badalona, Girona, Granollers, Lleida, Sabadell and Tarragona, by means of a study led by Josep M. Aragay and Anna Collado, of the University of Barcelona.

  • The patterns of language use in labelling in Barcelona in 1997, with a report by Joan Solé i Camardons and Joan M. Romaní analyzing fieldwork done by J. M. Aragay and Juli Sabaté of the University of Barcelona.

  • Studies of language use in supermarkets and shopping malls in Catalonia carried out by ECO Consulting in 1998 with a specific methodology determineded by the ISC. The same study was carried out once again in the year 2000 to pinpoint the differences and the evolution of the situation. In 2001 a similar study was done in supermarkets and shopping malls in the districts of Anoia, Bages, Berguedà and Cerdanya, commissioned by the Centre Linguistic Montserrat. (1)

  • Study of language use in petrol stations in Catalonia, carried out by J. Farràs and J. L. Bosch, of the Centre Universitari en Sociolingüística i Comunicació (CUSC-UB), to evaluate the language use in a service widely used by more or less the whole population.

b) Studies of several employers’ associations implemented by means of a survey of senior management and others in positions of authority:

  • Study of language use in health centres associated to ACES (Associació Catalana d’Establiments Sanitaris) [Catalan Association of Health Centres] carried out in 1998 by Josep M. Aragay and Rosa Mur.

  • Study of language use in companies associated to the Institut de l’Empresa Familiar (IEF) [Institute of Family Businesses] carried out by Institut DEP. Although these companies cover very different types of activities, they have one feature in common: the majority of the capital belongs to a family settled in Catalonia Study of language use in wine producing companies carried out by Institut DEP, in cooperation with the UCEVE and the UVIPE, the two main employers’ associations.

  • Study of language use in insurance companies associated to the Unió Catalana d’Entitats Asseguradores i Reasseguradores (UCEAC) [Catalan Union of Insurance and Reinsurance Companies] carried out by Institut DEP (Institut DEP, 2002).

  • Study of language use and opinions in companies associated to Confederació Empresarial de la Comarca de Terrassa (CECOT) [Employers’ Confederation of the District of Terrassa].

  • And, lastly, a study of language use in mineral water producing companies carried out by Instituto DYM, SA, in a sector where, while there are few companies, the latters' products are widely consumed by most if not all the population.

All these studies provide guidance in improving language policy actions aimed at increasing the use of Catalan in these particular domains.

2.4 Studies by students with awards

Scholarship for students of the Autonomous University of Barcelona at the Institute of Catalan Sociolinguistics started in 1996. During the 200 hours-long stay they carry out very specific research under the direction of the experts of the ISC. Topics include: the presence of Catalan in the movies (1996 and 2001); in TV channels broadcasting in Catalonia (2001); in advertisements in Catalonian newspapers (1997 and 2002); in radio broadcasting (2001); and social movements and militant groups in favour of Catalan (1999 and 2001)

2.5 Advice to other bodies of language planning

In addition to the management of the research directly promoted by the Directorate General for Language policy, advice has been provided to different Catalan ministries, offices of the Consortium for Linguistic Normalization or sector-specific linguistic services. So, in 1997 we cooperated with the linguistic service of the Lawyers’ Association of Catalonia in the carrying out of a study on the monitoring of the language policy programme in lawyer’s offices. In 2001 we cooperated with the Ministry of Labour to design a survey aimed at evaluating language use in vocational study centres and subsequently effecting specific actions to increase the use of Catalan.

2.6 Awards and grants

In order to promote sociolinguistic research, the Directorate General for Language Policy awarded grants to students from 1988 up to 1995. This action of support to research was changed and reconverted to awards for studies already completed. From 1994 to 2000, awards were given in four domains of research: the Antoni M. Badia i Margarit Award for empirical research; the Tomàs Garcés Award for work on linguistic legislation and official use of language; the Valentí Amirall Award for proposals and experience in language planning and language revitalisation, and, lastly, the Bernat Fenollar Award for academic studies in sociolinguistics and language planning. From 2002 onward, these are awarded jointly with the Institut d’Estudis Catalans (IEC). Among the successful applicants, we should highlight the following:

  • Les llengües minoritzades d’Europa. Una aproximació (Bernat Fenollar Award), by Àngela Cotano, published in 2000 by 3 i 4. This is the first commercial work in Catalan to appear on this topic.

  • Llengües i legislacions a Europa. Primera aproximació a les influències del marc legal en els processos de substitució o normalització de les llengües (Tomàs Garcés Award,1994) by Oriol Ramon.

  • La utilitat del bilingüisme, by Josep Maria Colomer, professor of Political Sciences at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (runner up for the Tomàs Garcés Award, 1995), published by Edicions 62 under the title La utilitat del bilingüisme: una proposta de pluralitat linguistica a Catalunya, Espanya i Europa).

3. Dissemination of results

The dissemination of the results of the studies can be achieved in a number of different ways:

- On the one hand, depending on the audience or the sector analyzed: in the case of a study on a specific sector, the results are publicly presented to the association which is the representative of the companies or professionals working in that particular sector, as happened with the ACES, IEF, UCEAC and CECOT studies.

- On the other hand, there is general dissemination via articles in the journals of the DGLP or by means of a specific publication, as was the case for the study on the 1996 linguistic census. The most relevant publications as well as the full list of the articles published in Noves SL and Llengua i Ús are listed in the bibliography. (2)

All the works and studies promoted by the DGLP are furthermore listed in the common catalogue of specialized libraries of the government of Catalonia [BEG, Biblioteques Especialitzades de la Generalitat] (http://beg.gencat.cat/vtls/catalan/vtls-basic.html) and can be consulted at the Centre of Documentation in Sociolinguistics (CDS) of the DGLP. Those that have been published can also be consulted in the main public and university libraries although the majority of them are unpublished: they are therefore only available at the CDS at the headquarters of the DGLP.

To make consultation and the dissemination easier, the CDS has created a data base (BETT, Base de dades d’estudis i treballs tècnics promoguts per la DGPL) [Data Base of Studies and Technical Works promoted by the DGLP] which besides listing the references of each and every work, allows the user to consult the most relevant sections these works on the screen: title page introduction, methodology, model of survey or questionnaire used and conclusions, as well as information about data gathering process, the sample, the domain of application and other data of interest. These data can be consulted at the CDS and from next year they will be available on the Internet at: http://www.gencat.cat/llengua/documentacio

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