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Sociolingüística catalana
Spring 2002

Insurance companies and language uses, attitudes and services, by Institut DEP and Joan Solé i Camardons

This article summarises the main points of the study entitled "Uses and attitudes of members of the UCEAC (Union of Insurance and Reinsurance Companies and Agencies)" carried out by the Department for Culture as part of the agreement between the UCEAC and the Generalitat. The study was performed by the Institut DEP (www.dep.net) by means of a survey for company managers, and by collating and observing language uses in a range of business documents. We would like to highlight the collaboration of the UCEAC in this study, which was published in its full form in the collection of studies of the DGPL’s Institute of Catalan Sociolinguistics.

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1. Aims and Methodolgy
2. Language Uses
3. Language Attitudes
4. Evaluation of the Language Policy
5. Interest and Language Services
6. Recommendations
7. On-line Language Resources

1. Aims and Methodology

1.1. Aims

The general aim of this study is to describe the current situation of Catalan in UCEAC companies. Specifically, it hopes to:

a) Determine language use in aspects such as: corporate image and external signage; advertising; brochures, catalogues and policies; payslips and employment contracts; customer service both in person and over the telephone; written communication with customers; internal oral and written communication.
b) Find out company expectations for the increased use of Catalan.
c) Discover the reasons for company decisions on whether or not to use Catalan.
d) Find out the opinion of these companies on the Generalitat’s language policy.
e) Evaluate the interest in language services provided to companies

1.2. Methodology

Study universe: 115 insurance and reinsurance companies across Catalonia that were also members of the UCEAC. Of this figure, 43 were large companies and the remaining 72 were medium-sized or small enterprizes. The UCEAC has 142 members. Of these, 27 form part of a corporate group. One representative per group was interviewed.

Interview method: Personal interview with the managers of the 115 companies using a semi-structured questionnaire.

Sample: A total of 72 valid interviews were performed, representing 62.6% of the study universe. This breaks down as 78.6 % of the 43 large companies and 54.2 % of the 72 small and medium-sized enterprizes. However, statistical margins of error cannot be applied since no probabilistic selection was performed on the sample.

Field work: The field work was carried out between 27 November, 2000 and 22 February, 2001.

Methodological procedure: Companies were selected in accordance with UCEAC criteria; these distinguish between large companies with a turnover of more than 30,000 million pesetas, and small and medium-sized enterprizes with a turnover of less than 30,000 million pesetas.

2. Language Uses

2.1. The use of Catalan in business

Both Catalan and Spanish are used as working languages in UCEAC companies. The use of each varies in accordance with the task in question and the type of company (whether small, medium-sized or large). Over 85 % of UCEAC companies often or always use Catalan when addressing the general public in person or by telephone, and in internal, oral communication.

Commercially-speaking, six out of ten companies (59.6 %) often or always use Catalan to advertise within Catalonia, and 54.4 % of companies use this language in their external signage and corporate image.


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