The Sociolinguistic Map of Galicia
Developing Policies to improve the Conversion of Language Competence in Language Use among
Young Adults Groups
The draft of measures to improve attitudes towards the Galician language and the extension
of its use
Proposals for action
Analysis and goals
Structure of the interview
The Sociolinguistic Map of Galicia (MSG)
Seminar of Sociolinguistics of the Real Academia Galega has been
carrying out several researches about the sociolinguistic situation
of Galicia, in cooperation with public institutions since its foundation
in 1990. In addition to the project
reviewed in this article, the Seminar of Sociolinguistics of the
RAG, together with the Directorate General for Language Policy of
de Galicia [Directorate General for Language Policy of the Government
of Galicia], carried out the Sociolinguistic Map of Galicia in order
to know about the Galician linguistic situation insofar as there
was a lack of reliable data regarding the current vitality and reality
of the Galician language.
The preparation of
this study started in 1992 and ended in 1996 with the publication of the last of the three
volumes of the MSG. 38,897 interviews (PDF 36 k) were carried out among the population
aged 16 and over living in Galicia. 36 sectors were established according to the size of
the municipality and the percentage of people employed in the different economic
activities. Within every sector, the sample was proportionally distributed between the
municipalities, and quotas were established according to age group and gender. The
questionnaire was made up of 148 questions, some of them with subdivisions, so that the
total number of variables gathered was of 170. The issues
contained in the questionnaire were as follows:
Personal identification data of the interviewee: name, place of birth and residence,
gender, age, occupation, studies, etc.
Linguistic competence: knowledge of Galician of the interviewee and his/her family.
(Socio-)linguistic history of the interviewee: initial language, language used at school,
language used by close relatives, etc.
Linguistic uses of the interviewees in different domains: family circle, with friends, at
work, with the Administration, etc.
Linguistic attitudes and prejudices with regard to Galician in different domains: towards
the use of Galician in different situations, the usefulness of Galician compared to
Spanish, the increase of use of Galician, the Galician speakers, the Spanish speakers,
Sociolinguistic awareness of the interviewee: usual language of youngsters, the future of
languages in Galicia, level of use of Galician in different moments of the last 50 years,
Sociolinguistic Map of Galicia was published by the Real Academia Galega in three volumes
(Seminario de Sociolingüística, 1994, 1995, 1996) which contain a synthesis of the most
relevant data by using three basic parameters: the competence in Galician, its uses and
the attitudes towards this language.
One of the most
relevant results stated in volume one of the MSG was the break-up of the intergenerational
transmission of Galician as far as even if the majority of the population (62.4%) claimed
Galician as initial language, this percentage varies substantially according to the age
group. The difference between initial Galician speakers and initial Spanish speakers from
the group of elders (over 65) to the group of youngsters (between 16 and 25 y.o.) is more
than 70%. Furthermore, among people under 20 y.o., Spanish is in most cases the initial
languag, no matter characteristics as relevant as the place of residence at birth.
1: Initial language in Galicia
As for linguistic
competences, the MSG shows a predominance of oral competences in Galician, as almost all
interviewees claimed to understand Galician (97.1%) and a vast majority claimed to be able
to speak it (86.4%). Noneless, the written skills are more
limited as less than half the population can read in Galician (45.9%) and slightly over a
quarter can write it (27.1%).
linguistic uses, the MSG states that the majority language in Galicia is Galician: almost
70% of interviewees claim to speak only (38.7%) or mostly (29.9%) this language.
Nevertheless, the use of Galician changes according to variables such as place of
residence, age, level of studies or social class. Broadly speaking, the MSG proves a general decrease of Galician from rural areas to towns
and from towns to cities. The use of Galician also decreases according to the age and in
those groups with a higher level of instruction and a higher socio-economic status.
If we focuse on
the relation between usual language and age, the MSG shows a worrying process of language
shift. In the whole Galicia, Spanish is now the dominant language among youngsters (53.4%
of those interviewees aged between 16 and 25 speaks only or mostly in Spanish).
2. Usual language in Galicia
At the same time a
general report was submitted to the Xunta de Galícia [autonomous Government of Galicia]
with the analysis of all data and a level of concretion far more higher than the results
published in the 3 volumes that, even if detailed, are merely a synthesis of the data
collected in the map.
1.2 Developing Policies to improve the Conversion of Language Competence in
Language Use among Young Adults Groups
The Seminar of
Sociolinguistics of the Real Academia Galega carried out the Galician part of the project Developing
Policies to improve the Conversion of Language Competence in Language Use among young
Adult Groups. The objective of the study was to develop systems to improve the step
between competence and use in groups of young people. The work was coordinated by Pádraig
Ó Riagáin of the Linguistics
Institute of Ireland and the other participants were the Seminar of Sociolinguistics
of Galicia, the Directorates
General for Language Policy of Catalonia and Basque Country, the Research Centre Wales, and the afore-mentioned
Linguistics Institute of Ireland.
The part refering
to Galicia is a macro-quantitative study about the congruence or non-congruence between
oral competence and use of the Galician language among a sub-sample of people aged between
16 and 34, which was the source for a subsequent study about the influence of social
networks over this congruence. On the other hand, the influence of the changes ocurring in
the social networks of daily interaction over the linguistic behaviour of speakers was
The results of
this research in Galicia were published in two articles: Fernández Rodríguez, M. &
Rodríguez Neira, M. (1998a) and Fernández Rodríguez, M. i Rodríguez Neira, M.
1.3 Deseño de medidas para mellorar las actitudes cara ó galego e incrementa-lo
The Seminar of
Sociolinguistics of the Real Academia is carrying out the project The draft of measures
to improve attitudes towards the Galician language and the extension of its use which
is being funded by the Directorate General for Language Policy of the Galician Government
[Xunta de Galicia]. This project began in March 1999 and is now almost completed. The
results will be published as a monograph in the near future.