Logotip de la revista Noves SL





Sociolingüística catalana

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


Symbolic domination is exercised through symbols, by selecting a set of ways of representing reality, that conceals other possible representations, thus hiding parts of the same reality. If this symbolic domination is successful, acceptance of the domination by dominant groups is guaranteed (Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1994).

Symbolic domination becomes a mechanism for legitimating changes by creating structures of plausibility that make domination unconscious while helping to define reality in a certain way. We understand symbolic domination to be the set of unconscious actions perceived as non-coercive, but which are the product of a social determinism that is far removed from any conscious intention (Bourdieu, 1985).

In short, domination of the structures through which we see the world (language) guarantees the unconscious acceptance of another type of domination as ‘normal’.

Thus, language policies are able to create structures of plausibility that add value to language, rediscover spheres that will guarantee its use, and teach the language, ensuring competence in it. This is achieved by creating markets through which language becomes cultural capital, because we are not faced with a situation of linguistic speculation that can tell us whether we know a language well but where we are unable to produce or reproduce anything using that language.

1.2. When. Social spheres for language

Language as a tool of domination needs a market in which to develop and through which, it gains value. Thus, linguistic cultural capital becomes so when social institutions create a sphere in which it can develop, take on meaning and progressively increase in value.

In our case, the Community of Valencia, there are two ways of understanding reality based on two linguistic systems (Spanish-Valencian); the most powerful group legitimates and creates spheres or areas of use and increases its markets, thus reproducing its language and understanding of the world in a certain way. This is achieved by appropriating spheres that belonged to the other language (Valencian), which is progressively devalued by the reduction in its market.

Therefore, we have two struggles for the expansion of markets, for legitimating and valuing one language over the other, for conflict between languages in contact caused by objectivising invasions into language spheres.

This market expansion-reduction dynamic is based on a number of different processes related to bilingualism, diglossia, language shift and standardisation (in that order) Hence, bilingual situations with contact between two different linguistic systems alternating with each other leads to the legitimation-loss of prestige of linguistic spheres. We understand that the term is similar to what Ninyoles calls ‘diglossia’, since the use of a given language is subordinate to relationships in a hierarchised social structure reflected in a hierarchy of linguistic uses and languages.

A language expands its spheres by reducing those of the other language, reflecting a process of language shift. This situation gradually becomes monolingual in the dominant language. However, if language conflict is declared between languages, this can lead to standardisation of the language in decline with the aim of standardising the speech of each area and recovering linguistic spheres (depending on the intensity and direction of the language policy).

Language conflict occurs when certain individuals and groups question and doubt the direction of the shift, problematising it and setting up processes of social action to increase the spheres occupied by the language in decline, thus initiating the language standardisation processes (Ninyoles, 1969). Language standardisation is therefore always preceded by the problematization and conflictiveness of the social definition of language uses (Tejerina, 1992).

As Benjamín Tejerina (1992) points out, the same conscience of the disappearance of a territory’s own language can lead to a defensive reaction promoting the recovery of the original language, depending on the linguistic community’s valuation of the collective identity represented by that language. Language standardisation requires the social construction of favourable socio-political conditions, the will of the linguistic community and the appropriate social action (Mollà and Palanca, 1987); all of these elements depend on the valuational dimension of the language.

1.3. How. Language loyalties and attitudes

Attitudes towards language provide the vehicle and reference point for all of these linguistic situations as well as for symbolic domination, language planning and the legitimation of social spheres.

For van Dijk (1998), attitudes lie in the conscience of individuals, forming part of their cognitive world; they are made up of a series of opinions shared by a social group. Thus, they are specific, structured series’ of beliefs that are shared socially.

These attitudes are Bourdieu’s habitus (1979, 1992) in that they are the fruit of experiences, products of a whole series of historical, social, economic, political and cultural implications that continuously interact with one and other, turning the subjective into the objective on analysis.

Unlike rational, individual action, the concept of habitus follows the logic of social action, incorporating the objective into corpuses so that the subjective also becomes social. Habitus is a socialised subjectivity:

"Habitus are long-lasting, transposable systems of schemes of perception, appreciation and action resulting from the penetration of the social institution in corpuses." (Bourdieu, 1992)




2 de 7