The draft of measures to improve
attitudes towards the Galician language and the extension of its use arises as a
response to a need clearly stated by the Sociolinguistic Map of Galicia (MSG), (RAG: 1994,
1995, 1996), to establish actions designed to halt the decline of the use of Galician
among young people. The major aim of the project is to determine which factors are causing
the decline in the use of Galician among specific groups. Those responsible of the areas
concerned (Sociolinguistics, Psychology and Sociology) set up common goals and
methodological research guidelines which can be summed up as follows:
1. To detect from
the data provided by the MSG attitudes of latent rejection towards Galician among young
2. To link
possible negative attitudes with the linguistic history of individuals.
3. To explore the
possible relation between the decrease in the use of Galician and the loss of presence in
highly relevant domains of interaction.
Even though the
MSG data provided a global perspective on the sociolinguistic situation in Galicia, the
study did not pave the way to the setting up of active measures to increase the use of the
language insofar as, among other issues, there was little correlation between
attitudes and linguistic use among the general population, especially young people.
Furthermore, the MSG showed the existence of positive attitudes towards Galician among
young people indicating that there were latent attitudes which made it difficult to
explain this apparent inconsistence.
As a result, the
decision was taken to establish a set of experimental tools in order to which would enable
the carrying out of qualitative analysis, as well as indirect measurements of this
sociolinguistic situation. This would be to explore issues related to this phenomenon that
could not be approached through quantitative methods of social research or indeed by means
of a direct measurement of attitudes. The techniques chosen were as stated below:
- Matched-guise technique; (PDF 8 KB)
- In-depth interviews; (PDF 25 KB)
- Discussion groups. (PDF 11 KB)
Thanks to the
complementarity of the data obtained through these tools it should then be possible to
check out the relation between life-stories, attitudes and linguistic behaviours of
individuals with different sociolinguistic and sociodemographic characteristics.
This should also
make it possible to draft a series of measures aiming at halting the decline in the use of
Galician among young people.
Tools and methodology
requirement for the establishment of these tools was the need to evaluate attitudes
indirectly, i.e. to explore indirect assessment of attitudes among young Galicians by
means of a young male and a young female speaking in four different linguistic varieties
("Galician without Galician accent", "traditional Galician",
"Spanish with Galician accent", "Spanish without Galician accent"). Accent
was understood from a technical point of view as forms of pronunciation (Laver 1994) and
was defined in phonetic and prosodic terms (especially the vowel system and the intonation
in enumeration pauses).
To this end an
adaptation of the matched-guise technique (Lambert, Hodgson, Gardner and Fillebaum, 1960)
was set up so that individuals listened to 16 voices (8 male and 8 female voices) from
people aged from 24 to 34 years. The 4 (matched) male and female voices were those
of the same man and woman, and each of them used the four chosen linguistic varieties. The
other eight (padding) voices were those of different people and were equally
distributed among the linguistic varieties under consideration.
comparable conclusions we established a representative sample made up of 400 individuals
ranging from 14 to 20 years old. who were in non-university education (secondary
education, higher secondary-education, or training cycles) in Galician education centres.
We took into account the place of residence and the gender of the interviewees according
to the data provided by the 1998 revision of the 1991 population and housing census.
14-20 years with non-university education
proportional affixation according to gender and place of residence (last unit=pupil)
error expected at global level
||95% (a =
implementation of the matched guise technique in the chosen Galician education centres.
Analysis and goals
methods we used (general linear model of repeated measurements, cluster analysis, analysis
of individual differences, analysis of linear regression and analysis of correspondences)
Establish the existence of relevant differences in the assessments of linguistic varieties
according to intra-individual (gender, language and matched accent) and inter-individual
variables (place of residence, usual language, language of parents and gender of the
the perceived similarity between different linguistic varieties;
Analyse which are the personal features constituting the underlying dimensions in the
evaluation of linguistic varieties; and
Analyse the physical stereotypes associated to the different linguistic varieties used in
By means of
in-depth interviews with listed questions we sought to determine out the personal story
and experience of the selected individuals. This technique is considered especially useful
when obtaining information about how the subjects actually act and rebuilding the social
representations system in their individual attitudes and behaviours. Thus we tried to get
closer to the representations associated with the two languages in contact and to the
related individual events experienced by the subjects.
Structure of the interview
were divided into thematic sections to gather information on the wide variety of issues
which can, to one extent or another, have an influence on the object of the research:
appears to be a relevant factor in the linguistic choices of speakers and can explain -at
least partially- some of the differences reflected in the MSG, for instance those related
to the mother tongue and the place of residence. We studied what we called "citizen
story", i.e. the social class of the family plus the origin and destination of family
migrations and other actors in their socialization as well as relations with people living
outside Galicia. On the one hand, the dimension "work, leisure and consumption"
set out to explore the life-style of the interviewees and that of their families to the
extent that this can reflect the self-identification of the individuals with a given
social group. We also took into account the profesional background of the subjects and
those characteristics by means of which the individual interacts in the work domain,
leisure activities and the possible relation between the linguistic behaviour and the
social trajectory of the family.
dimensions we checked the relevance of the ethnic self-identification and the associated
level of self-esteem. In order to deal with this issue we went through aspects like the
knowledge the interviewees had of the historical development of their group and the level
of support they gave to the traditional folk culture, the requirements considered
necessary for being a member of the group (i.e. for being Galician) and the group
brings us to the last and most extensive section of the interview which includes questions
designed to find out the subjects' own assessment (broadly speaking) of the language, the
domains of use and the speakers.
We explored the
subjects' assessment of the the legitimate uses of the language and the perception of
their own capacity to use it correctly, as well as the level of language loyalty and the
reactions towards the language, and the perception of which is the proper language to be
used in each context. We furthermore analysed the prestige accorded to the language by the
interviewees in different domains of use.
perception of the linguistic situation in terms of social setting looks to determine on
the one hand the opinion of the subjects towards the dominant language in their
environment and on the other, their point of view as speakers about the relation between
two languages in contact. The personal experiences of the subjects were studied against
the background of their individual linguistic histories. Lastly, due to the relevance of
the schooling system in the process of normalisation, we paid attention to the assessment
of the teaching of Galician as a subject and to the work of teachers.
We did not look
for significance in the informants' profiles in the in-depth interviews given that the
relation between the different kinds of discourse and the socio-structural
characterization of the individuals was thoroughly analysed by means of the discussion
constisted of 12 individuals, seven females and five males aged from 21 to 31. The
geographical origin of the informants was heterogeneous: three were born in the Galician
countryside, two in villages, seven in cities and the remaining two outside Galicia. As
for their usual language, half of them claimed to be Galician speakers and the other half
Spanish speakers. Three of the informants were new Galician speakers and two had shifted
from Galician to Spanish as usual language.
To avoid skewing
and the notable impact of social desirability -- that is, the pressure to give socially
desirable answers, the interviewees were not informed about the real goal of the interview
and they replied to the questions related to language at the end of the session. Furthermore,
to ensure empathy with the subject, the interviewer adapted him/herself to the usual
language of the interviewee, as we knew the latter's sociolinguistic characteristics
beforehand, and this helped them feel comfortable with the linguistic context.
The choice of the
discussion group as a tool of research for linguistic attitudes is based upon the need to
establish the relationship between attitudes inherent to the different social discourse
types and the sociostructural characteristics of those social groups which produce and
production of the different groups had to be as free and relaxed as possible, it was
necessary to set up a list of relevant topics for the research. Once the general moderator
chosed the subject of the debate, only small interventions were needed to introduce new
issues related to the phenomenon concerned. The topics under discussion were as follows:
- The perception
of the current situation of Galician.
- Opinions concerning the reasons for the current situation of the language.
- Social perception of the institutional actions to promote the social use of the
- Assessments of the situation of Galician in education.
- Assessments of the situation of Galician in the work environment.
- Ethnolinguistic stereotypes.
- Diagnosis of the situation.
The criteria we
considered beforehand as fundamental in setting up the groups were age, usual language,
gender and place of residence. We decided to create groups of young people speaking only
or mainly in one or other language and living in one or other of the places of residence
(countryside, villages and cities), (2) seeking also to ensure
intra-group heterogeneity in terms of age and gender of the participants. One of the
stipulations we made was that the members of a given group should not become acquainted
and that the moderator and the informants should not have met before the discussion.