1. What is
a linguistic indicator?
Precedents and types of indicators in Catalonia
3. What is
the system of linguistic indicators?
basis for the system of linguistic indicators
Recommendations of the SIL commission
6. By way
bibliography on social and linguistic indicators
1. What is a linguistic indicator?
cultural indicator was introduced in 1969 by G. Gerbner, a researcher at the University of
Pennsylvania to assist in understanding the effect of the media on culture. In the mid
seventies, UNESCO began the study of cultural indicators.
define linguistic indicator (1) as a serial variable or
relationship between quantitative-type variables, whose measurement over a period of time
will provide relevant information on the linguistic situation of an organisation, of its
environment or of society in general, and assist in the taking of policy and technical
decisions in language planning.
have the following features, among others:
of definition: the concepts that are utilised have to be explicitly stated, without
any ambiguity or confusion.
of formulated objectives: the latter have to be explicitly related to the working
hypotheses of our approach to our work .
of variables: variables in question have to measure the most relevant aspects of what
it has to be possible to collect the data by means which are at our disposal or which can
be put at our disposal. The timetable and the place of data collection also have to be
agreed upon, among other aspects.
the data indicators have to constitute a series over time. The indicators have to be
arrived at by consensus, but once adopted cannot be submitted to discussion.
they have to be reliable, such that any change in the indicator will correspond to a
change in the variable which is measured.
they have to be comprehensive but not specialised, although the techniques involved in
processing them may be complex.
2. Precedents and types of linguistic indicators in Catalonia
different projects and tools involving linguistic indicators which have been developed in
Catalonia, we would particularly mention the following:
data on knowledge of Catalan provided by the censuses and voting
have been the first and often the most relevant of the linguistic
(Noves SL, Autumn 2000)
second point of reference, initially, was the Index of Linguistic Normalisation in
Catalonia (ILNIC), (4) a planned project, not carried out.
A presentation on the project was given at the II International Conference on Catalan
Language in 1986.
Between 1993 and 1997, the project on the Index of Use of Catalan (INUSCAT) (5) measuring the state of the language
by means of an objective indicator and a subjective indicator.
From 1995 onward a tool was developed and piloted throughout the territory: Indexplà (6).The latter had a double purpose, as
a battery of micro-indicators of the Catalan language in any given organisation, and as a
tool of the programme of language normalisation developed especially at the Consortium for
The indicators (7) of the General Language
Normalisation Plan, directly related to the key results (8) of the Plan in various sectors.
f) Ofercat, facility which measures the
presence or provision of the Catalan language in a given organisation.
projects and tools provided the theoretical and practical basis for much of the present
project, which we shall refer to, from now on, as the System of Linguistic Indicators
3. What is the System of Linguistic Indicators?
onward, in accordance with the normative framework, (9) the DGPL embarked on a project
known as the System of Linguistic Indicators (SLI) with a double purpose in mind:
collect and process the data on knowledge, provision and use of the Catalan language by
general population and by specific sectors.
b) Collect and
process the data relating to the results, in terms of sociolinguistic impact, of action
taken by Language Policy.
This project sets
out to systematise a multiplicity of data from different information sources and multiple
collection methods: linguistic census, official and non-official questionnaires,
observation, Indexplà, Ofercat and other projects and studies in series.
the other hand, it should also be remembered that since 1998 the
DGPL has been regularly compiling the Informe de Política Lingüística
(Language Policy Report) which is presented to the Catalan Parliament
and the Catalan Language Social Council. While it is true that a
part of the data contained in the Report are indicators, the SLI
project, as we have seen, is intended for a different purpose and
complements the Report. In 2001, a database of linguistic indicators
with three dimensions: situation (knowledge, supply and language
use), activity (language policies) and impact (result of these policies).
measures the conditions in which those in receipt of the actions and the environment in
which they take place(percentage of population who speak Catalan, the percentage of use of
Catalan in the municipal documentation, in the posters, in the signs, etc.). We see here
an example of a situation indicator in graph 1.
Change over time in population
able write Catalan and speak Catalan 1986-1996
The activity dimension
measures the volume of products and services (number of courses, students, agreements in
force, number of local corporations who have approved legislation promoting Catalan).
Below in graph 2 is an example of an activity indicator.
2. Legislation supporting the use of Catalan, passed by local corporations
The impact measures
the results achieved by the actions in favour of Catalan: number of inhabitants living in
local government areas with legislation on the use of Catalan, percentage of personnel
with sufficient knowledge, law courts and offices where Catalan can be used orally, number
of transmitters that broadcast more than 50% in Catalan, etc. Graph 3 shows an example of
an indicator of impact .
3. Accumulated population of inhabitants with local legislation on the use of Catalan
comprises, therefore, of a system of indicators which have to be simultaneously available,
and constitute indicators of the activity, impact and situation, supply and use of
In 2002 a
commission of experts and language policy managers wrote the report on the System of
Linguistic Indicators (SIL), centred principally on indicators of the Situation of the
language and also the Impact. See appendix
1: provisional list of Linguistic Indicators. (PDF 34 KB).
consisted of some twenty experts with backgrounds in such diverse fields as: statistics,
sociology, policy evaluation, sociolinguistics, psychology, language planning, law,
education and other professional activities. This commission was headed by Lluís Jou and
other members were: Josep Maria Aragay, Joaquim Arenas, Joaquim Capellades, Francesc
Domínguez, Albert Fabà, Jaume Farràs, Yvonne Griley, Marc Leprêtre, Marta Masats,
Josep Missé, Mònica Pereña, Miquel Pueyo, Enric Renau, Elvira Riera, Mercè Romagosa,
Joan Maria Romaní, Marta Rovira, Mercè Solé, Joan Subirats, Albert Valero, Francesc
Vallverdú, Àngels Viladot, Josep Maria Vilalta and Joan Solé Camardons who acted as
4. Basis for the System of Linguistic Indicators
These are the
outcome of oral and written observations by the commission of experts in many different
general and section meetings. The observations were reordered and put in context to
facilitate their comprehension.