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Sociolingüística catalana
Spring 2002

Language attitudes and loyalties in the Valencian Country, by Lorena Císcar, David González and Pau Pérez

This article provides a brief explanation of our line of research into language attitudes and loyalties in the Valencian Country and the elements of its social structure. We are also looking at the structural relationships between loyalties and variables of social structure in the Valencian Country and, using scientific means, creating a guide map to indicate the social dependence of each loyalty. Thus, the aim of language policy may vary, depending on the dimension that we want to promote.
However, for reasons of space, we will limit ourselves here to presenting the composition of our measuring tools and their frequency in the linguistic context of the Valencian Country, in both urban areas and the country as a whole.

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1. Language Policy Planning

1.1. Why. Language as an element of symbolic domination
1.2. When. Social spheres for language
1.3. How. Language loyalties and attitudes

2. Social and Linguistic Loyalties
3. Linguistic Attitudinal Groups

4. Language Attitudes and Loyalties in the Community of Valencia
5. Conclusion
6. Bibliography

1. Language Policy Planning

The language policy of the Community of Valencia began, as in other Autonomous Communities, with the approval of the Act on the Use and Teaching of Valencian in 1983, which promoted the use of Valencian and the standardisation of the language.

Political intervention in language must use certain parameters and measuring tools to help evaluate the actions carried out by public organisations in this field, and it must make use of analyses in order to discover the best lines for policies.

Our research focuses on this area: we search for relevant and reliable tools and instruments to improve the effectiveness of intervention, and to indicate the lines where the scope and direction of this action will have a bearing on the type of results.

Survey data (1) can be used as a basis for theoretical hypotheses on languages in contact, and language loyalties and attitudes. Thus, with the use of indicators, we can establish or deduce loyalties towards the language of the Community of Valencia and discover how they are characterised socially. These loyalties can then be used to establish five types of language attitude (five groups) through the analysis of conglomerates throughout the territory, taking into account their internal social structure.

Readers should see the two earlier studies for a more in-depth and accurate view of the results, preparation of the data, formation of the language loyalties and groups, their social composition, and the regression models and structural models that we created.

We will now move on to explain Why, When, and How language policies are created, in relation to how they take on meaning, situations prior to language policies, and in terms of the measuring instruments that we have created, which are based on social structure.

1.1. Why. Language as an element of symbolic domination

The importance of language policy planning lies in the idea that language is a central element of human societies. Far from being arbitrary, this type of intervention promotes ways of understanding the world insofar as the object of the intervention (language) becomes a tool of cosmovision and of symbolic domination, reflecting other types of domination.

Rather than looking at language from an analytical point of view, in terms of syntax or sentence structure, here we take it as a reference for objectivising our understanding of the world.

An individual’s cosmovision is mentally encoded and structured by the group of symbols that is language. We use language to communicate and transmit, to understand the world, to symbolise what surrounds us and make it our own through socialisation; through language, we share experiences, we transform the subjective into objective, i.e. we understand it in a specific way, and not in any another. In short, language mediates the processes of production and reproduction of social reality. Through language, we objectify the society that we collectively experience and construct (Berger and Luckmann, 1966).

Since language shapes our understanding of the world, objectifying it and marking us with it as a form of identification, of who we are, it is able to reflect changes in socio-economic hierarchy or structure that occur in society. It does so through changes in linguistic standards that refer to valuation, specific spheres of use and knowledge about and of language itself.

Changes in linguistic standards are based on the hierarchization of relationships and, more specifically, on the capacity for domination that develops. Economic domination can crystallise into changes in linguistic standards whereby the dominator (with its linguistic code) symbolically tries to impose its idea of the world, i.e. the adoption of a given linguistic standard is the result of mechanisms of symbolic domination acting in conjunction with other types of domination (e.g. economic, political).

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