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Vitality and use of Valencian at the Local Government offices of Sagunt. Results of the application of the Indexplà Information tecnology programme, by M. Lluïsa Pérez Castilla


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 Valencian Universities.

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.

Political power 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 sociolinguistic situation.

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.

Both governments 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.

"No quantity 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:

"Theoretical 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 acting locally).

We conclude this article by pointing to the following challenges for the future:

  1. 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).

  2. The initiatives 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

6. Bibliography

BASTARDAS, A.: "Persistència i canvi en el comportament lingüístic: la planificació sociolingüística". III Jornades de sociolingüística: normalització i planificació lingüístiques. Alcoi: Gabinet Municipal de Normalització Lingüística / Municipal Office of Language Normalisation, 1994, p. 11-25.

Ajuntament de Sagunt / Sagunt Local Council: El valencià al Camp de Morvedre, coneixement i ús social. Sagunt, 1998, (mimeo).

ABRIL, J.: "Els perfils lingüístics i la política de personal (I)". Llengua i Ús. [Barcelona], 1996, no. 5, p. 4-8.

ESCOLÀ, A. [et al.]: "Indexplà: programa de seguiment i avaluació de plans i acords de gestió lingüística per a les organitzacions". Llengua i Ús. [Barcelona], 1996, no. 5, p. 19-24.

LEPRÊTRE, M.: "El País Valencià. La situació sociolingüística als territoris de llengua catalana (IV)". Llengua i Ús. [Barcelona], 1996, no. 7, p. 62-67.

MOLLÀ, T. PALANCA, C.: Curs de sociolingüística 1. Alzira, Edicions Bromera, 1987.

MOLLÀ, T. VIANA, A.: Curs de sociolingüística 2. Alzira, Edicions Bromera, 1989.

MOLLÀ, T; VIANA, A.: Curs de sociolingüística 3. Alzira, Edicions Bromera, 1991.

MOLLÀ, T.: Política i planificació lingüístiques. Alzira: Edicions Bromera, 1997.

NINYOLES, R. L.: Conflicte lingüístic valencià. València: Tres i Quatre, 1969.

NINYOLES, R.L.: Idioma i prejudici. Palma: Edicions Moll, 1971.

NINYOLES, R.L.: Estructura social i política lingüística. Alzira: Edicions Bromera, 1989.

VALLVERDÚ, F.: Aproximació crítica a la sociolingüística catalana. Barcelona: Edicions 62, 1980.

VALLVERDÚ, F.: Velles i noves qüestions sociolingüístiques. Barcelona: Edicions 62, 1998.

M. Lluïsa Pérez Castilla
Ajuntament de Sagunt (Sagunt Local Council)

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