This dearth of research, probably, is
very much related to the absence of a co-ordinated language policy, co-ordinated by the
institutions of the Autonomous government (the Generalitat of Valencia) and by the
Indeed, in the
Valencian Country, it is not possible to overlook the fact that the linguistic conflict
has not yet been resolved.
Because of this
peculiar situation, the institutions are continually looking for individual and local
solutions to maintain the use of Valencian.
The situation of
the use of Valencian at the Sagunt Town Council according to the results of the Indexplà
analyses is still far from offering the minimum capacity for guaranteeing the normal
(co-official) use of the Valencian language by the employees and by the institution.
The upshot of the
results is incoherence and dispersion. Destructured and uncoordinated action by the local
politicians at the Sagunt Town Hall (the political will for normalisation) is
evident from the fact that the highest normalisation score is the factor of the staff's
linguistic competence. We would refer here to the period of time when there was a
Valencian Promotion Office organising Valencian classes for the Town Hall workers.
At all events what
has been done until now has proved insufficient and Sagunt Council has not been able to
reach minimum levels that would guarantee the full and free use of the two languages,
Valencian and Spanish.
It would not be
too exaggerated to say that the Sagunt Council, as an institution, is assisting the
process of language shift to Spanish.
If we compare the
Indexplà results with the results of the most recent sociolinguistic study (1998),
Ninyoles thesis is confirmed - that theoretical knowledge of Valencian is increasing
(reading and writing), but spoken use of the language is decreasing.
In Sagunt-City the
use of Valencian is decreasing according to the local census for the years 1986, 1991 and
the 1998 study. At the same time the use of Valencian in Sagunt-Port is increasing.
What is proposed
now is multisectorial sociolinguistic planning or intervention which would include both
action by the politicians and action carried out by the social movements seeking change in
language behaviour and ideas.
has a great effect on shaping overall social linguistic behaviour. The ideological
orientation of the centres of political power will have a transcendental impact on the
sort of measures that the institutions will adopt and the overall development of the
In the Valencian
Country sociolinguistic planning should now be initiated that would consciously seek to
change the situation of Valencian. In this way the ecology principle "think globally
and act locally" (10) would become a reality.
and local movements would do well to try to understand the complex interrelations of the
social dynamic behind changing behaviour, in this case linguistic behaviour.
of descriptive data will solve the problem of knowing which are the efficient techniques
that will bring about the desired change." (11)
Albert Bastardas i
Boada in the talk he gave at Alcoi during the III Jornades de Sociolingüística / III
Sociolinguistic Seminars, summed up very clearly the steps that have to be taken, and the
need to have the imagination to achieve success in the sociolinguistic planning needed by
the Valencian Country:
imagination and knowledge of the reality become essential to successful language planning:
ongoing observation, dispassionate and objective observation of situations, research into
causes and dynamics, the evaluation of real experience and the reformulation of strategies
and concepts are fundamental, ineluctable tasks that should be properly understood and
informed with theory".(12)
As we see it,
having obtained the analysis of the linguistic situation at Sagunt Council, the immediate
language policy to apply would be a Language Normalisation Plan (thinking globally and
We conclude this
article by pointing to the following challenges for the future:
In the Valencian
Country, the legal framework exists for the recovery of Valencian and for achieving a
situation of equilinguism (full and effective equality between the two official
languages, Valencian and Spanish).
for planning the different linguistic policies have to come from the institutions
and their political representatives elected by the people. They will play a fundamental
role in succeeding in making Valencian, the mother tongue and language habitually used by
large sections of the population, finally achieve the social status which it deserves so
that it becomes the prestige language in communication.
It should not be
forgotten that language is an element that provides cohesion for all of the
community, and is, therefore, a form of expression of the culture of a people; language is
our best cultural heritage.
All the social,
political and economic agents need to take on board the commitment to
continue and improve the work of recovery and promotion of Valencian in all ambits of the
Sagunta Council and indeed in all spheres of everyday life. The legal mechanisms to do so
are within reach of all via the objectives spelt out in the Pla municipal de
normalització lingüística (Municipal Plan for Language Normalisation) for the Sagunt
Local Council (13), in the future Reglament de
Normalització Lingüística (Language Normalisation ordinances) of the Municipality of
Sagunt, and finally in the Use and Teaching of Valencian Act.
This study, in
its application of the Indexplà methodology, could provide a model for proceeding to be
followed by other institutions; local government offices, deputations (local delegations
of central government), universities, etc. In fact, in the last few years, many Catalan
organisations (both public and private) have had the Indexplà diagnostic carried out,
before applying a Language Normalisation Plan.
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Lluïsa Pérez Castilla
Ajuntament de Sagunt (Sagunt Local Council)