2. Description of the research
projects reviewed here
2.1 Interruption of
intergenerational transmission: the case of the city of Alacant
2.2 Language shift
at an advanced stage: the city of Valencia and its metropolitan area
towards the varieties in litigation
2.2.2 The figures
Intergenerational transmission, a debated question
Precarious maintenance: the county of Marina
An overall X-ray picture of the state of the language in the Valencian Country
3. Final observations
scholarly work of many Valencian sociolinguists contrasts with the flag-waving tone of the
Valencian Country's Autonomous regional government, eager to show the population's
increased ability to read and write their own language, as irrefutable proof of the
success of the official language policy that has been implemented. What the Valencian
sociolinguists have been doing often with sparse resources has been to carry
out a series of empirical studies with suitable critical rigour and independent criteria.
In the present article we shall be reviewing some of this research briefly, looking at
work done over the half decade 1998-2002, as a basis for venturing a reliable diagnosis of
the state of (Valencian) Catalan that seriously challenges the official view and once more
brings to the fore the dilemma between language loyalty and castilianisation (shift to
Spanish) so lucidly captured by Luís V. Aracil (1966) nearly four decades ago.
2. Description of the research reviewed here
2.1. Interruption of intergenerational transmission: the case of the city of
For some time
now, Brauli Montoya has been the most active investigator of the process of language shift
in the city of Alacant. The book Alacant: la llengua interrompuda (Alacant, the
interrupted language, Montoya, 1996), constitutes his most significant contribution on the
subject complemented by a subsequent study (Montoya, 2000) which looks at linguistic
aspects of the shift. This is fieldwork carried out between April 1993 and August 1994,
with a sample of 88 informants, representing 0.42% of the total universe under study, the
latter consisting of 20,856 inhabitants of Alacant over 30 and considered to be
"natural speakers" of Valencian having acquired it at home, or from their
neighbourhood. This sample was broken down by sex, age, language of the childhood home,
area where socialised and social status. The data was collected using quantitative means
(open and close questionnaires) as well as qualitative ones (interview), by the study
carried out by Ernest Querol (1990) in Ports county.
histories reconstructed by the writer enable us to determine the onset of the interruption
of intergenerational language transmission (transmission of Valencian from one generation
to the next) among the well-off neighbourhoods in the centre of the modern city during the
period 1865-1917. Subsequently, between 1910 and 1970, the process spread to the old
quarter of the city and the non-central urban districts, and finally between 1955 and
1980, reached the rural periphery.
The results of
the questionnaire indicate a virtual absence of Alacant-born subjects under the age of 50
who learned Catalan within the family. On the other hand, those who have Catalan as their
first language constitute less than one half of their group, such that they form 3.6% of
the total speech community of the city (9,263 of the inhabitants, in absolute numbers).
Transmission, then, is solely in the hands of the schools, and this is totally inadequate.
2.2 Language shift at an advanced stage: the city of Valencia and its
No one would
dispute the importance of the city of Valencia in relation to the overall Valencian
territory, given the city's demographic weight, geographic situation, political
importance, etc. This state of affairs is not unconnected with the interest and curiosity
which its sociolinguistic dynamics have aroused among scholars. The best proof we have of
this is the proliferation of monographs which focus on different facets of linguistic
contact at Cap i Casal (city of Valencia), three of which we have selected as being of
2.2.1 Attitudes towards the varieties in litigation
speakers towards varieties in praesentia have been the object of study by José R.
Gómez Molina in his book Actitudes lingüísticas en una comunidad bilingüe y
multilectal: área metropolitana de València (1998) (Language attitudes in a
bilingual community: the metropolitan area of Valencia), based on empirical research
carried out in 1996-1997 with a sample of 234 consultants aged over 18 (reliable to 95%),
selected according to the variables sex, age, socio-cultural level, mother tongue and
usual language, place of origin and place of residence. These were asked to classify four
speech modes recorded from bilingual speakers: standard Spanish (SS), Standard Valencian
(SV), non-standard Valencian, or Apitxat (NSV) and lastly non standard Spanish of
the Horta district (NSP).
collection was carried out via two procedures: an indirect technique, being an adaptation
of Lambert's matched guise technique with the application of scales using semantic
differential, and a direct technique, consisting of a questionnaire with both open and
closed questions, referring to the two languages in contact (Valencian/Spanish).
The result of
the study show there is a favourable attitude toward linguistic normalisation among the
speakers of the area, due to the social categorisation of SV and the corresponding
reduction suffered by SS, which nonetheless retains a clearly predominant position,
derived from its greater commonality.
status of SV has to do both with instrumental and integrative (social) values. With regard
to the latter, the considerable relational or social aspects accorded NSV should be
mentioned. Correlations between the two varieties indicate that we do not have to do with
a diglossic situation here, so much as contextual variation, which in fact arises out of
the deficient sociolinguistic consciousness of the speakers and the low level of
competence in SV (Gómez Molina, 2002). At the same time, the SS (Standard Spanish)
variety surpasses both NSV and SV in instrumental value and, among a segment of young
people, also in its integrative value that is to say, as a symbol of Valencian
identity, very much disassociated with the use of Valencian (64.1%).
sociolinguistic variables which best capture social characterisation of use are, in
descending order, socio-cultural level, sex, age, usual language and place of residence.
The mother tongue variable, in contrast, does not emerge as significant. The most
interesting inferences that can be made are:
sociocultural score, with very homogenous evaluatory criteria, favours use of SV and the
integrative value is stressed; a mid-level sociocultural score favours SS, NSV and SV,
while considering NSS as stereotyped; a low sociocultural score, lastly, favours NSV,
followed by SS.
2) Men favour
NSV, followed by SS and VS, while women, with more heterogeneous criteria, value SS in
first place, followed by SV and VNS. Significantly, a sector of the women rates SV as
"Catalanist" (i.e. promoting Catalonia to the detriment of Valencia), in
opposition to the "Valencianism" of NSV.
3) SV is
higher rated amongst young people than amongst those over 55, who also refer to
anti-Valencian associations .
To that we
have to add greater active tolerance of Spanish (91.4%) than of Valencian (72.2%), little
social pressure in favour of linguistic acculturalisation only 4.7% of Spanish
speakers in the sample have become bilingual and the fact that young people, when
they acquire Valencian and become bilingual, continue to be monocultural in Spanish. The
overall picture we derive is that SS (Standard Spanish) continues to be the predominant
language by a wide margin in intergroup communication.
2.2.2 The figures
As its title
suggests, El futur de la llengua entre els joves de València (The future of the
language among the young people of Valencia) (1998) by Ferran Colom, sets out to analyse
the situation of Catalan among students in the city, both in terms of knowledge of the
language and of behaviour and attitudes, by means of a questionnaire inspired by the
model used by Erill et al (1992) which he administered at the beginning of
1996 to a sample of 877 third-year BUP students and first-year FP students (second grade)
drawn from 29 schools and educational centres chosen to be representative.
Among the main
conclusions that the author arrives at, are:
1) The origin
and the geographic and linguistic make-up of the family determine the linguistic level and
competence of the students in the sample. The highest level of competence was found among
the children of "autochthonous" families (families of Valencian extraction) with
Catalan as mother tongue (11%). Some 14% of the students could not speak the language, and
the school system is far and away the setting where the subjects in the sample (50%) most
came into contact with the language, absent as it is from their daily lives.
2) The outlook
is still bleaker when we look at spontaneous and habitual use, reported by 5%, which in
itself confirms the thorough nativisation of Spanish among young people. If we restrict
ourselves to use in the family, the figure increases to 10%, with a further 10% who use
the two languages without distinction (!). Despite that, a certain stabilisation or
botoming out of intergenerational transmission seems detectable, around a minimum figure,
since of the 22% of the parents who use Catalan among themselves, 21% also do so with
their children, but this use is not always habitual.
3) As in the
case of Alacant, it was found that in Valencia too, place of residence was a determining
factor. Attitudes favourable to Catalan and its use outside the familiar increases moving
away from the centre of the city. Conversely, in the historic central districts of the
city and the Pla del Real, inhabited mostly by couples of local extraction, and with a
high socioeconomic and educational level, there is below average use of Valencian and
clear attitudes of rejection.
2.2.3 Intergenerational transmission: a debated question
In a recent
article, entitled "La transmission intergénérationnelle du valencien et son usage
comme langue seconde" (2002) in the journal Langage et sociéte, founded by
Malagan Pierre Achard, Raquel Casesnoves Ferrer contrasts the sociolinguistic situation of
Valencia with that of the rest of the Valencian Country.
If we take
into account the figures from the 1986 and 1991 censuses and in the case of the city
of Valencia, the Municipal Census of Inhabitants of 1996 as well as a survey carried
out by Casesnoves over the academic year 1997-1998 among 167 secondary pupils in three
schools in Valencia, selected on the basis of social class, percentage of newcomers from
other points of the Spanish state, whether public or private, linguistic competence of the
neighbourhood and the existence (or otherwise) of Catalan on the timetable. To complete
the survey there were a series of semi-directed interviews with representative subjects..
obtained allow us to sketch in certain observations of the situation of Catalan in the
1) Not detected
at all are the positive tendencies evinced by the official studies on levels throughout
the country. According to these studies, we have on the one hand an increase in the
ability to read and write the language (especially in young people aged between 15 and
19), resulting from the introduction the teaching of Catalan (Valencian) in the schools;
on the other, with regard to evolution and growth in the family setting, they revealed an
increase in the number of people who always or generally used Catalan. Expressed in
percentages, this was 40.9% in 1989, increasing to 44.3% in 1995, which suggests a change
of 3.4% in favour of Catalan, confirmed by a decrease of 2.0% observed for Spanish
over the same period..
in the city of Valencia a decrease in use was observed in no instance reaching more
than 15% in the family setting. The fact is especially serious, since being taught
in Catalan in school seems to be a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for it to be
used subsequently in other settings. Indeed, Catalan is not the predominant language of
the young people in even 10% of cases..