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Summer 2003

Vitality and use of Valencian at the Local Government offices of Sagunt. Results of the application of the IndexplÓ Information tecnology programme,
by M. Llu´sa PÚrez Castilla

This article deals in some detail with the diagnosis of the use of Valencian and the conclusions drawn after the application of the IndexplÓ IT programme to a local government organisation, Sagunt Local Council; situated in the Valencian Country, and belonging to the county Camp de Morvedre.

This in fact was an experimental approach in the year 1999, in a specific sociolinguistic situation, to testing the vitality and use of Valencian in the institution closest to the citizens, the local town hall.

To effect this diagnosis, a tool was adopted by the Consortium for Language Normalisation cpnl.org and IndexplÓ provides an index of normalisation in an organisation to be able subsequently to develop language planning as and where needed.


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1. Introduction

2. Chief characteristics of the IndexplÓ IT programme

3. Methodology, identification and characteristics of the organisation under study

4. Analysis of the data obtained

5. Conclusions and challenges for the future

6. Bibliography


1. Introduction

The article which we present here is an extract from the research work (1) which was presented at the Faculty of philology at the University of Valencia in September 1999.

We include here the part of the work devoted to the diagnosis of Valencian language use at the Ajuntament de Sagunt (Sagunt Town Hall) using the IndexplÓ computer programme and the conclusions which were reached. (2)

The idea of carrying out this research came up during the Jornades de Promociˇ LingŘÝstica (Language Promotion Seminars) organised by the Sagunt Council in April 1998, an event in which policy experts and technicians of the Consortium for Language Normalisation in Catalonia took part.

Arising out of the Seminars and with the collaboration of the technicians who supplied us with the IndexplÓ programme, we proceeded to research the situation of Valencian in what was a local organisation.

The aim here was to make use of the existing resources and their application, suitably adapted, to the sociopolitical situation in the Valencian Country.

The Catalan institutions, unlike those of the Valencian Country, both public and private, have for long been working to achieve the "whole" (3) recovery of the Catalan language and have the support of the Autonomous administrations, as well as local and county-level administrations.

Our work consisted in establishing the diagnosis based on the Linguistic Normalisation Index (INL) of a public entity, Sagunt Town Hall, underwritten by the IndexplÓ method.

The objective here with this application was to carry out a prior reconnaissance of the linguistic situation in terms of the use of Valencian, since this preview reconnaissance is an essential step in the realisation of the move toward normalisation of a minority language.

2. Chief characteristics of the IndexplÓ IT programme

IndexplÓ first saw the light of day in 1995 when, as a result of a working seminar, the Consortium for Language Normalisation of Catalonia developed this instrument for detecting language needs in all types of situations in Catalonia.

This is an Excel programme which is used to find out if an organisation comes up to a series of requirements that will fit it for guaranteeing the use of Catalan (or in this case Valencian) or indeed any language with minority status in conflict with another (majority) language (Spanish in this case).

It measures the INL (Index of Language Normalisation) or degree of Language Normalisation of an organisation.

The programme is based on a system of indicators grouped by factors.

The factors evaluated are: image and labelling; linguistic ability of the staff, criteria for language use; documentation for external use; exterior communication and internal documentation and communication.

Each factor has a value from 0 to 100 and a weighted average is also obtainable which has a value of between 0 and 100, indicating the level or index of Language Normalisation (INL).

This value, lying between 0 and 100, shows us the degree of overall normalisation of the organisation and allows us to single out different sections of the organisation according to their use of Catalan (Valencian, etc.).

The indicators do not represent the totality of elements with linguistic meaning or significance in the organisation, since, by definition the indicators have as their objective of evaluation the whole from a set of data which are considered representative.

The weighting of each factor in the (weighted) INL for the degree of normalisation of the organisation is as follows:

  • FACTOR 1: image and labelling: 20 %

  • FACTOR 2: linguistic ability of the staff: 15%

  • FACTOR 3: criteria for use: 20%

  • FACTOR 4: external documentation: 15%

  • FACTOR 5: external communication: 15%

  • FACTOR 6: internal documentation and communication: 10%

From this diagnosis of degree of normalisation, IndexplÓ enables us, as we have said, to establish the typology of the object under evaluation.

According to the INL obtained, there could be:

  • Organisations that attain an INL of between 60 % and 80% (type R). These have a level of normalisation that fits them for attending to the users in the language the latter may choose.

  • Organisations that attain an INL above 80% (type P). These have adopted Valencian as the language they work in.

  • Organisations that have factors 1,4,5 (having to do with external elements: image and labelling, external documentation and internal documentation) at an index level of around 60 %.

3. Methodology, identification and characteristics of the organisation under study

The methods we have used in this study, in terms of fieldwork and data collection are direct observation, questionnaires and direct questions. All that was completed in period between February and March 1999.

The municipal offices of Sagunt Town Hall are decentralised in various buildings in two settlements, 5 kilometres from each other.

This territorial factor should be borne in mind. The town of Sagunt (henceforth Sagunt-City) with 20,945 inhabitants is the old historical centre; the port of Sagunt (Sagunt-Port) is the settlement that came into being at the beginning of the 20th century with the growth of the iron and steel industry, where there are 39,886 inhabitants on census.

Having said that, the field under study or defined universe for this work was limited to the administrative offices that Sagunt local council has at the Palau (Mansion) or Main Building, together with the offices close by, all in the old historic centre of Sagunt-City.

It was decided to do things in this way because the council offices located in the building in Sagunt-City are the more representative: it is here that the local government manages its main functions (Mayors office or Town Hall, Operations, Treasury, Secretariat, Tax office, urban planning, etc.). Thus, over the years Sagunt local council has built up a multiplicity of municipal services patterned according to its peculiar urban and geographical distribution.

We have focused on analysing the linguistic situation in the main building, bearing in mind, however, that some of the factors include Departments not found in this building but which are found in the nearby offices in the old centre of Sagunt.

This is the case, for example, with Personnel, with the Municipal Foundation for Culture and the Youth Information Centre. All three are at a distance of approximately 200 metres from the Main Building.

This physical proximity is very important when evaluating the effectiveness that actions intended to increase normalisation or recovery of Valencian might have.

The proximity of the translation service (currently housed in the Palau or Main Building) and the interconnectedness on the ground of the service means that there is greater fluidity and liaison between the administrators and the politicians.

4. Analysis of the data obtained

The following graph show the results obtained through investigation of the factors and indicators.

Figure 1. Sagunt Local Council

Figure 1. Sagunt Local Council

The first evaluation we arrived at, is that the Sagunt Local Council has an overall Index of Language Normalisation (INL) of 34 % (see graphs) and consequently does not fall into any of the established categories in the typology established above.

Since this result falls far short of reaching the established minimum levels that have been set, it cannot be included under the R-type heading nor under the P-type one. It will be recalled that type R reach an INL level of between 60 % and 80 % fitting them for attending to users in the language they may chose (Valencian or Spanish).

Type P have an INL greater than 80 %, such that they have adopted Valencian as the language they work in.

We will now look at the normalisation scores attained, beginning with the highest:



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