Thus, conversational command of
Catalan in this type of situation can be somewhat underdeveloped since Catalan will never
or very rarely be the language used in everyday social interaction between these boys and
girls, who will see the use of their own varieties in these functions as 'natural'. Due to
a lack of frequent, regular contact with classmates of native origin, these individuals
may obtain full command of Catalan from a formal point of view but not feel comfortable
using Catalan in non-formal speech. For these individuals, the question of language choice
comes down to the language they must use with teachers with whom they may sometimes
speak in Spanish instead of Catalan since their environment generally lacks a
sufficient number of L1 Catalan peers with whom they can communicate in this language.
Bilingualization, therefore, can be restricted to formal oral and written contexts and
individuals can fail to reach the level of comfortable colloquial and mechanical use of
Catalan in conversation, as they would use Spanish.
fairly accurately outline the evolution in Catalonia according to the diverse demographic
and sociolinguistic areas: areas dominated although not exclusively by
Catalan, others that are mixed, and others where Spanish is clearly the everyday,
predominant language, albeit with progressive levels of bilingualization (not used?) in
Catalan. The great population shifts of this century prevent us from seeing the Catalan
case as a habitual process of integration and/or in the long-term
assimilation of the descendants of migrant populations. It is very likely that the index
of intergenerational language shift from Spanish to Catalan will be low and that, as a
result, the linguistic physiognomy of the country will change little in social terms. The
question therefore is, not whether immigrants will assimilate into L1 Catalan group, but
whether the autochthonous population will take the first steps on the long road towards
assimilation into L1 Spanish group. This outcome should not probably happen because they
would do so conscientiously, but as a result of the above demographic and sociolinguistic
dynamics (mixed marriage with loss of L1 Catalan unilinguals, increased population mixing,
reproduction of the intergroup norm favouring Spanish, etc.) in an international and State
context whereby Spanish is considered to be a strong, extensive language, capable of
serving a vast area of the planet.
policy of language standardization and diffusion carried out over recent years and the
fact that Catalan is official in Catalonia, demographic and sociolinguistic constraints
could also take effect and push the situation, albeit slowly, towards undesirable dynamics
for language continuity. It may well be time to start seeing the evolution of the L1
Catalan population not only as a demographic minority in Spain, but also in its own
historical territory, with all the changes that this will have on the conceptual paradigm,
legitimating discourse and the application of effective policies of functional
compensation. We need imagination, action research, creativity and socio-political
participation if we are to create a situation in Catalonia whereby at least the language
competence and uses of the population are properly distributed and equally compensated,
thus ensuring a sociocultural ecosystem capable of stabilizing Catalan in the future in
its own historic territory.
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