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Pragmatics in Catalan (socio)linguistics, by Núria Alturo


As a result of the Barcelona conference, and the interests of different sorts that began to take shape over the course of the previous decade, groups were formed to organise exchange of experiences (for example the Grup d’Estudis de Pragmàtica, now defunct, coordinated by Lluís Payrató; or the discussion groups of research groups sharing interests more or less related to pragmatics: Xarxa temàtica La variació lingüística: dialectologia, sociolingüística i pragmàtica, in existence since 1995; Xarxa temàtica d’Estudis del Discurs, since 1997, Xarxa temàtica Coneixement, llenguatge i discurs especialitzat, since 1999). It resulted too, in the drive to create oral and written corpora (Corpus de Català Contemporani de la Universitat de Barcelona, (8) Corpus Textual informatitzat de la Llengua Catalana at the Institut d’Estudis Catalans), (9) and in the launching of projects financed by the public administration which has enabled various groups of researchers working from different perspectives to begin systematic investigation of the use of the Catalan language. Some of these projects seek, as their primary objective, to build written or oral corpora of the Catalan language, which will enable systematic description of the language, including those we have mentioned above and others which are not in the public domain. (10) Still others have specific research aims which we discuss in Alturo (forthcoming).

At the same time, the teaching of pragmatics as a university subject is increasing. There are the courses at first and second cycle level dealing specifically with this field (Pragmatics and Colloquial Catalan, at the University of Barcelona, Applied Catalan Pragmatics, at the University of Lleida, Pragmatics and Discourse Analysis applied to Catalan, at the University of Alacant), as well as the components within university subjects, the latter as diverse as Uses and Registers of Catalan, Catalan Semantics, Applied Catalan Linguistics, Catalan Language, Rhetoric, Seminars on the Philosophy of Language, Grammar of Discourse, and so forth. In third cycle studies (that is, postgraduate studies), we have such university courses as Dialectology and Pragmatics (University of the Balearic Islands), Pragmatics of Literature (University Jaume I), Semantics and Pragmatics (University Pompeu Fabra), Variation and Registers (University of Barcelona), etc. The outcome of this growing presence of pragmatics at university level, in the form of university courses, was the production, over the course of the nineties, of some thirty doctoral theses on pragmatics, (11) a total which was still less than what is found in other areas of Catalan language and literature.

The appearance on the scene at this time of a new, miscellaneous range of journals on Catalan language and literature (A Sol Post, Journal of Catalan Studies, Llengua i Ús, Articles de Didàctica de la Llengua i de la Literatura, Llengua i Literatura, Zeitschrift für Katalanistik) made it easier for an increasing number of articles to see the light of day on the subject of Catalan pragmatics. In particular, the issuing of a number of different monographic editions, of these and other journals with a longer tradition, indicated the growing interest that there was for studies of language use, particularly in relation to discourse. See, for example, the monographic issue on gramàtica textual of the journal COM Ensenyar als adults (Supplement no. 8, 1991), and three monographic editions of the Caplletra journal: one entitled fraseologia (no. 18, 1995), another entitled variació lingüística (no. 25, 1998) and, lastly, a monograph entitled pragmaestilística (no. 29, 2000). In some cases, the publication of articles and reports was in direct response to the interest in possible application of pragmatic findings on discourse in the field of language teaching. Publications of this kind included monographic editions of Articles de Didàctica de la Llengua i de la Literatura on La diversitat discursiva (no. 4, 1995), on La construcció del discurs escrit (no. 5, 1995), on La interacció verbal (Verbal interaction) (no. 6, 1995), on L’oral formal (Formal oral) (no. 12, 1997), on Els textos acadèmics (Academic texts) (no. 13, 1997), on La intertextualitat (Intertextuality) (no. 14, 1998) and on La narració (Narration) (no. 16, 1998).

At the same time, a number of different manuals, collections of essays and compilations of articles came out which contributed to the dissemination of (knowledge on) aspects of the pragmatic perspective. Among the most relevant were: Text i ensenyament. Una aproximació interdisciplinària (Camps et al. 1990), a collection of articles on text linguistics applied to teaching; De la frase al text. Teories de l’ús lingüístic (Castellà 1992), an overview of theories on language as an instrument which has become a reference manual in university studies; De retòrica. La comunicació persuasiva (Laborda 1993), which considers language as an instrument for control over others; the adaptation, to Catalan, of the book Elements de lingüística per al discurs literari (Maingueneau and Salvador 1995), a manual which indicates the bridges that there are between linguistic theory and the analysis of literary discourse; Anàlisi de la conversa (Tuson 1995), an introduction to the linguistic, sociocultural and cognitive mechanisms that come into play in oral communication; El significat textual (Artigas et al. 1995), in which different writers consider text as a meaningful product of a communicative act; Models textuals. Teoria i pràctica (Bassols and Torrent 1996), a theoretical presentation of text types orientated toward the practice of expressive skills; Raons relatives (Viana 1997), an essay on pragmatic thought with interesting notes on conversation, courtesy, the opposition between relativism and empiricism, enonciation and metaphor; Oralment. Estudis de variació funcional (Payrató ed. 1998), the first ensemble of studies on functional variation in Catalan based on an oral corpus; (12) Text i gramàtica. Teoria i pràctica de la competència discursiva (Conca et al. 1998), a manual for university-level teaching of the Catalan language which presents concepts of fundamental importance for the systematic analysis of discourse (mechanisms of reference, connection, coherence, appropriateness, etc.); Llengua catalana III. Anàlisi del discurs (Payrató 1999), (13) also a manual for university teaching; it looks at pragmatics from a broad perspective, one which is especially sensitive to the connections between linguistic research and text studies; Introducció a la fraseologia. Aplicació al valencià col·loquial (Sancho 1999) and El discurs prefabricat. Estudis de fraseologia teòrica i aplicada (Salvador and Piquer ed. 2000), two significant publications on the theoretical and applied study of phraseological units; and, lastly, Sobre l’escriptura (Toutain 2000), an essay on writing, with a worthwhile commentary on argumentation and the links that can be discerned between coherence and style.

A good indicator of the extent to which Catalan pragmatics expanded at the end of this stage were the large number of publications on Catalan presented at the conference of the International Pragmatics Association (IPrA) held in Budapest in the summer of 2000 (Bassols, Bladas and Payrató, Cuenca and Torres, Oller, Pérez, Ribas, Torras, Viana).

3.3 Consolidation?

2001 saw the beginning of a discernible new stage, still underway, which began symbolically with the production of a book by a Catalan author which explicitly states (in the title) that it is a "pragmatics" manual: Les claus de la pragmàtica (Bassols 2001). It remains to be seen if this is really a stage of consolidation for the field of Catalan pragmatics. Not being able to distance ourselves sufficiently, at the present time we can only note the trends for the future that appear to be emerging.

On the one hand, it would seem that a certain consolidation is occurring in the various general lines of research which had already emerged: in the first place there is pragmatic linguistics (or pragmalinguistics), represented in this stage by such publications as the manual by Bassols (2001) and by formal research on grammaticalisation, on utterance models, on information structure, etc., (14) which include, in differing proportions, aspects of the philosophical and linguistic traditions within of pragmatics, and new theoretical models such as constructions grammar and the theories arising out of cognitive linguistics; in second place, l’anàlisi del discurs, as a perspective which emphasises, in particular, the social and cultural aspects of communication (including work which adopts the critical discourse analysis model, and intercultural pragmatics studies); and, lastly, pragma-stylistics, (15) an approach which stands astride linguistics and literary disciplines and which includes research on terms like discourse markers, genres and text types, or other issues which link it with discourse analysis (such as the relationship between discourse and cultural models). The very necessary link between theoretical research in these fields and the need to resolve problems of communication in language use result in many of the studies along these lines adopting an applied perspective (especially with reference to formal language, translation, and the needs and demands of intercultural communication in such fields as education or healthcare, etc.).

On the other hand, there seems to be an increasing trend to studies of contrastive nature. This in turn may be the result of increasingly positive evaluation of multilingualism together with the effect of interculturality, favoured, at university level, by the definition of educational objectives in cross-disciplinary areas of competence within the context of the European educational system. Examples of this trend include the monographic issue no. 30 of Caplletra on contrastive analysis (2001), or the existence of research projects based on multilingual corpora, such as the Multilingual Specialised Text Corpus of Barcelona's University Pompeu Fabra (see note 12), or the audiovisual corpus of texts in Catalan, Spanish, English and German within the VARCOM project (Variation, multimodal communication and multilingualism: discourse styles and linguistic ideologies in oral texts), at the University of Barcelona (Payrató, Alturo and Juanhuix 2003).

4. Bibliography

ALTURO, N. (forthcoming). "La recerca pragmàtica sobre la llengua catalana".

ALTURO, N.; BLADAS, Ò; PAYÀ, M.; PAYRATÓ, L. (ed.) Corpus oral de registres. Materials de treball. Barcelona: Publicacions de la Universitat de Barcelona, 2004 [in press]. Book and CD-rom.

ALTURO, N.; BOIX, E.; PEREA, M. P. "Corpus de Català Contemporani de la Universitat de Barcelona (CUB). A general presentation". A: PUSCH, C. D. I W. RAIBLE (Hrsg.). Romanistische Korpuslinguistik-Korpora und Gesprochene Sprache, Script Oralia 126. Tübingen: Narr, p. 155-170, 2002.

ARACIL, L. V. "Remarques al projecte Manual de llengua catalana". Papers de sociolingüística. Barcelona: La Magrana, p. 229-247, 1982.

ARACIL, L. V. Dir la realitat. Barcelona: Països Catalans, 1983.

Articles de didàctica de la llengua i de la literatura, 4, 1995 (Discourse diversity); 5, 1995 (The construction of written discourse); 6, 1995 (Verbal interaction); 12, 1997 (Formal oral); 13, 1997 (Academic texts); 14, 1998 (Intertextuality); 16, 1998 (Narration).

ARTIGAS, R. et al. El significat textual. Barcelona: Generalitat of Catalonia, 1995.

ARTIGAS, R. (coord.) Habilitats comunicatives. Una reflexió sobre els usos lingüístics. Vic: Generalitat of Catalonia and Eumo, 1999.

BAR-HILLEL, Y. (ed.) Pragmatics of natural languages. Dordrecht: Reidel, 1971.

BASSOLS, M. M. Anàlisi pragmàtica de les endevinalles catalanes. Barcelona: Publicacions de l’Abadia de Montserrat, [1988] 1990.

BASSOLS, M. M. "Aportacions de la pragmàtica a l’anàlisi del discurs". Caplletra, 7, p. 33-49, 1990.

BASSOLS, M. M. "Cognition, information et télévision". 7th International Pragmatics Conference (Budapest), 2000.

BASSOLS, M. M. Les claus de la pragmàtica. Vic: Eumo, 2001.

BASSOLS, M. M.; TORRENT, A. M. Models textuals. Teoria i pràctica. Vic: Eumo, 1996.

BLADAS, Ò.; PAYRATÓ, L. "Conversational routines in colloquial Catalan". 7th International Pragmatics Conference (Budapest), 2000.

BOIX, E. "Els materials de llengua oral del corpus de català contemporani de la UB (CUB)". A: PAYRATÓ, L.; BOIX, E.; LLORET, M. R.; LORENTE, M. (ed.) Corpus Corpora, p. 93-114, 1996.

BOIX, E.; PAYRATÓ, L. "An overview of Catalan sociolinguistics and pragmatics". Catalan Review, 9, 2, p. 317-403, 1995.

CABRÉ, M. T. "L’anàlisi del discurs, entre la confusió i la polèmica". Llengües en contacte. Papers genera{dors/tius} de comunicació, 3, p. 34-50, 1984. Republished, Llengua i Literatura, 1, p. 281-304, 1986.

CALSAMIGLIA, H.; TUSÓN, A. "Ús i alternança de llengües en grups de joves d’un barri de Barcelona: Sant Andreu de Palomar". Treballs de Sociolingüística Catalana, 3, p. 11-82.

CALVERAS, J. La reconstrucció del llenguatge literari català. Estudi d’orientació. Barcelona, 1925.

CAMPS, A. et al. Text i ensenyament. Una aproximació interdisciplinària. Barcelona: Barcanova, 1990.

Caplletra, 7, 1990 (Discourse analysis); 18, 1995 (Phraseology); 25, 1998 (Language variation); 29, 2000 (Pragmastylistics); 30, 2001 (Contrastive analysis).

CARBÓ, F. "Estratègies discursives en la poesia de Joan Vinyoli". Caplletra, 7, p. 129-142, 1990.

CASTELLÀ, J. M. De la frase al text. Teories de l’ús lingüístic. Barcelona: Empúries, 1992.

COM Ensenyar català als adults, suplement 8, 1991 (Gramàtica textual).

CONCA, M. Paremiologia i teoria del text. Tesi de llicenciatura, Universitat de València, 1985.

CONCA, M. "Una aproximació pragmàtica als llibres proverbials catalans". Caplletra, 7, p. 117-128, 1990.

CONCA, M.; COSTA, A.; Cuenca, M. J.; Lluch, G. Text i gramàtica. Teoria i pràctica de la competència discursiva. Barcelona: Teide, 1998.

CORBERA, J. "Les archives audiovisuelles des dialectes catalans de Iles Baléares". A: PUSCH, C. D. I W. RAIBLE (Hrsg.) Romanistische Korpuslinguistik-Korpora und Gesprochene Sprache, Script Oralia 126. Tübingen: Narr, p. 181-190, 2002.

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