Logotip de la revista Noves SL





Teoria i metodologia
Autumn 2002

Phonic variation in Catalan: inventory and assessment of methodology, by Miquel Àngel Pradilla Cardona

This paper (1) offers a succinct presentation of studies on research into phonic variables. Following on from the inventory is a global approximation to the studies and a critical review characterizing the Catalan contribution to general sociolinguistics.

PDF printing version. 166 k



1. Introduction

2. Individual characterization of the various studies
2.1. COLOMINA, J. (1985)
2.2. MIER, J. (1986)
2.3. MONTOYA, B. (1989)
2.4. ALTURO, N i M.T. TURELL (1990)
2.5. ESCRIVÀ, V. (1993)
2.6. MONTOYA, B. (1993)
2.7. PRADILLA, M.À. (1993)
2.8. PLAZA, C. (1995)
2.9. PLA, J. (1995)
2.10. MONTOYA, B. (1995)
2.11. CARRERA, J. (1999)
2.12. MONTOYA, B. (2000)

3. Global view and criticism of methodology
3.1. Linguistic variables
3.2. Speech communities
3.3. Real universe of the sample and the sample itself
3.4. Typology of the extralinguistic factors considered
3.5. Subjective evaluation test
3.6. Quantitative analysis
3.7. Qualitative analysis

4. Bibliography

1. Introduction

Researchers dealing with global analyses of the studies, results and conclusions of the sociolinguistic paradigm issue insofar as concerns Catalan, coincide in their observation that the majority have a clear sociological nature. Since its origins, Catalan sociolinguistics has been essentially sociology of language. This slant is more than understandable when we consider that it has developed in a context of language contact in which the survival of the territory’s own language is under threat. The bulk of sociolinguistic research has therefore centred on the setbacks and advances in the social use of the Catalan language. Language planning has taken into account a significant amount of this labour.

However, more recent sociolinguistic research reveals a more varied approach. Obviously, the macrosociolinguistic approach, (quasi-) exclusive before 1985, continues to play the most important role, but it has been reduced by a series of variationist and ethnographic research, particularly between 1985 and 1995. This new horizon caused Boix and Payrató (1996) to remark that the sociolinguistics of conflict, insofar as concerns Catalan, had given way to sociolinguistic diversity.

Indeed, they were not wrong. The author of this paper came to the same conclusion in his inventory study entitled Sociolingüística de la variación y nivel fónico de la lengua catalana (1980-1995), despite the fact that the study-title suggests a more restricted scope. However, the optimism suggested by this diversification of interests will be clarified by the retrospective angle taken in the conclusion of the present article. The reason is none other than the sad fact of a single doctoral thesis (Carrera, 1999) in the phonic field of variationism and one piece of research (Montoya 2000) which opens up new methodological prospects in the analysis of linguistic atrophy in the process of language replacement. Two studies, by the way, which are excellent.

It would be encouraging to compensate this negligible production from 1995 onwards with a list of studies on morphological, syntactic and lexical variables. Unfortunately, we are unable to do so, since the picture is similar here. It is well known that studies on phonetic and phonological variables have overwhelmingly resorted to the use of Labovian sociolinguistics. One of the reasons for this prevalence is, without doubt, the fact that this type of study adapts better to the Labovian premise that variation involves the alternate use of semantically and pragmatically equivalent forms, which is difficult to guarantee with lexicon and, particularly, syntax (Pradilla, 2001a). A further quantitative consideration could be ethnographic research, but this would not substantially alter the marginality of less-sociological sociolinguistics.

This article hopes to offer a succinct presentation of studies researching into phonic variables. The inventory is followed by a global approximation and a critical review characterizing the Catalan contribution to general sociolinguistics.

2. Individual characterization of the various studies (2)

2.1. COLOMINA, J. (1985). "La diftongació de /e oberta/ i d'altres canvis vocàlics a la Canyada de Biar", in J. COLOMINA L'alacantí. Un estudi sobre la variació lingüísica. Alacant: Institut d'Estudis Gil-Albert, pp. 94-109.

Many conclusions concerning our issue (Turell, 1988; Gimeno and Montoya, 1989) coincide in noting the pioneering contribution of the escola alacantina (Alacant School). In my opinion, the work of Jordi Colomina (1985) (3) on geographical variety in Alacant merits being our initial reference point. This study is a clear example of the multi-dimensional consideration of linguistic fact, where variation is studied from different, yet complementary, approaches. His merit lies in having expertly combined different perspectives and methodologies, some already familiar and other more innovative ones.

1 de 8