Logotip de la revista Noves SL





Language policy in multinational and public service companies in Catalonia, by Joan Solé Camardons, Jonatan Castaño and Agustí Díaz


5. Variables that affect language use

In this section we will look at, and reproduce in diagram form, the most important variables influencing the use of Catalan in the companies under scrutiny. To make comparison of the two types of companies easier we firstly carried out a process to make the measured variables as homogeneous as possible.(2) Analysis was carried out using the C&RT technique which divides the variable under scrutiny into two groups each time, taking the greatest difference between means, and seeking to have them as homogeneous as possible amongst themselves as the guiding principles. The intention here was to show which were the variables with most discriminatory power in indicating levels of Catalan use in firms.

As regards the segmentation trees (branching trees representing segmentation) what is missing here are the characteristics or typology of the companies (the equivalent of sociodemographic facts in individuals (3) since variables like the geographical situation of the company, whether a branch of a mother company or not, the percentage of sales in Catalonia, the number of workers, turnover, and the market sector /type of product or service, all give important information on the kinds of companies that use more or less Catalan. But one could hardly apply a governmental language policy programme to them directly, over the short or medium term, or at any rate this would not be easy.

5.1 Multinational companies

The previous ISC study on the use of Catalan in multinational companies, whose data we have already drawn upon in this article, correlates the  characteristics of the companies with their use of Catalan, thus showing what kinds of company  as defined by these characteristics most use and which least use Catalan.(4)

We developed an explicatory model analysing the relationship between the variables of performance and attitude of the big companies on the one hand with the use of the language on the other, since use can be explained not only by the characteristics of the companies but by  other variables too. Discernible from the ISC model are two groups of variables which have been measured but not related to use and which turn out to be not unimportant:

The performance variables of the company correlating with use of Catalan are:

  • “Proportion of staff training courses  (STC) in Catalan”

  • “Does the company avail itself of Catalan translation or correction services ?”

  •  “Does the company have its own in-house directives on the use of Catalan?”

  • “Is knowledge of Catalan taken into account when taking on staff?”

  • “Is knowledge Spanish taken into account when taking on staff?”

  •  “Does the company sponsor activities related to Catalonia’s cultural heritage”.

The variables evaluation and attitude vis-à-vis use of Catalan in companies are:

  • “Plans to organise Catalan classes”

  • “Plans to increase the use of Catalan in your company”

  • “Do you think there are advantages in using Catalan in the company?”

  • “Do you think there are disadvantages in using Catalan in the company?”

  • “What is your evaluation of use of  Catalan in your company”

  • “How  important is Catalan in your company?”

The technique employed here enables one to relate these two groups of variables with the use of Catalan, in order to be able to discern with more accuracy what influences language use in the international companies. In this way we will be able to pinpoint the companies using Catalan more or less, as defined by the variables mentioned above (those of performance and attitude).

In the first instance, to be able to see which variables in the two groups are significant, that is to say have appreciable impact on the use of Catalan, an analysis was carried out of the variance range of all the variables (5) in the said groups. The results of this process show that only four out of all the variables emerge as statistically significant to 95%. Thus it will be these four variables that we shall use to develop our explanatory model.

Significant variables  in the explanatory model

  • Proportion of in-house training schemes that the firm organises in Catalan

  • Knowledge of Catalan as a criterion when taking on new staff

  • Subjective importance of Catalan in the company

  • Value put on Catalan in the Company

Secondly, a segmentation tree was constructed using the C&RT technique, by means of which a graphic representation of an explanatory model was obtained, explaining use of Catalan and taking into account the variables from the two groups that we have said were significant. 

In every tree diagram, the mean Index of Catalan use in Companies (ICUC) is indicated, plus the number of companies in each group and the percentage that this figure represents over the total sample (300).  Thus following the branching we can see which variables are those that discriminate best and know the group of companies that make more or less intensive use of Catalan.

Diagram 1 shows graphically the segmentation tree of the big companies. To arrive at the group of companies that make greatest use of Catalan one simply has to follow the path marked in green and to arrive at the least or lowest use of Catalan the red path has to be followed.

In the second instance there are two paths, since the group of companies that use least Catalan comprises only 6 companies. and is not very significant, and so a second path has been marked to another group showing low use and consisting of more companies numerically (19 companies).

The firms with greatest use of Catalan (ICUC= 78.6) are therefore those where more than half of the in-house training courses are in Catalan (i.e. use Catalan as the medium), have knowledge of Catalan as a requirement when taking on new staff in Catalonia, obtain a score of more than 5 in the importance accorded to Catalan and more than 8.5 out of 10 in their positive evaluation of use of Catalan in the company. We see that these constitute a group of firms that use Catalan in almost all ambits and situations, in a way that goes beyond being  a purely functional response to the market.

Firms with low use (IU=12.1) are those that run less than half their in-house training courses in Catalan, require knowledge of Catalan when talking on new staff, and score less than 5 in the importance accorded Catalan. Thus, for these companies, Catalan is a consideration only when hiring staff, that is, it has a purely functional value, undoubtedly because of the type of service they offer, which makes linguistic contact necessary with the customer or client, and the Catalan market. 

The other path with companies with very low use of Catalan (ICUC=14.7) are those that run less than half their in-house training courses in Catalan as the medium, do not take Catalan into account when taking on new staff in Catalonia, and score less than 5 in the importance accorded use of Catalan.  These companies do not even accord a functional value to Catalan and make little use of the language in all ambits and situations. Nonetheless, their ICUC score emerges as higher than that of the companies referred to in the previous paragraph, perhaps because there are only 6 of them and so not completely representative.

Diagram 1: Segmentation tree showing the variables of performance and attitude toward / evaluation of Catalan in the big companies. (PDF 8 KB)
Source: Own elaboration, based in ISC data.

We see that the two variables with most discriminatory power are those of performance, followed by the two variables of performance and evaluation. In other words, the variables that significantly affect use of Catalan, the performance variables are more important than those of attitude or evaluation, and this is quite logical, since it is one thing to be politically correct, and seeing this as maybe the expedient thing to do where possible, and another putting it into practice, especially where the big companies are concerned motivated as they are by hard-nosed economics and demand.

Analysing the variables one by one we see that what best discriminates use of Catalan measured by the index of Catalan use in the company, is the percentage of training courses run by the company in Catalan. It can be seen that the ICUC=  28.7 if more than half the courses run by the company are in Catalan and the IUCE=51.1 if they run less than half the courses in Catalan.

The second most effective variable in discriminatory power on use of Catalan is whether the company has knowledge of Catalan as a requirement when taking on staff, and this is logical given that where incoming employees have to know Catalan, Catalan will obviously be used more than in companies where employees don't necessarily know the language. This variable is clearly explanatory and could be a very important point to consider in the language policy directed at the commercial world. 

In third place is the importance given to the use of Catalan within the company and lastly there is the subjective evaluation of Catalan use within the company. With these two variables, if there is a high perception of use, this will normally be because the use actually is high, even though there may be companies that tend to see use as insufficient while others see it as excessive despite equal use in practice for economic and ideological reasons..

5.2 Public service companies

When constructing the segmentation tree of the ICUC in public service companies it can be seen that there is only one significant variable with discriminatory power regarding use in this sort of company: The percentage of in-house training courses carried out in Catalan, echoing what we found in the case of multinational companies.

Diagram 2. Segmentation tree
Index of Catalan Use in Companies (ICUC)
Public service companies

a_sole_quadre2.jpg (8144 bytes)

Source: Own elaboration, based in ISC data.

We see then, that public service companies that have half the in-house training courses or more in Catalan have a ICUC OF 66.5 and those that have fewer than half score 37.27. It can be seen that these indices are higher than those in the groups separated off by the first branch of the tree in the case of the multinationals since the public service companies have a higher mean ICUC.

6. Language policy for the multinationals and public service companies

6.1. Justification of the policy

The corporate world is reluctant to accept linguistic obligations and plead economic reasons for not doing so, (6) but in any case it is (obviously enough) against almost any intervention by the administration in the market. Companies adopt the neoliberal maxim of no intervention in the economy, but just as the instances of economic bankruptcy are notorious, the market in turn also forces cultural bankruptcy, globalising the world and concentrating culture with culture just as it does with capital, and concentrating the majority languages (7) in international relations - with consequent massive loss of cultural richness. cultural. It is clear that, economically speaking, to have a common language in international relations increases productivity and global production, just as the greater the size of a language's territory the more useful this is for the new economy. Yet this fact produces a mechanism analogous to the negative external market forces. The main international language, English, and the associated increase in productivity, has as its downside the reduction of the cultural and linguistic heritage in all other communities.(8) For none of their fault, they are effected negatively. This goes against almost all notions of fairness (9) and clearly in a comparable situation with pollution from a factory -the outcome of increasing productivity but adversely affecting the rest of the community- the state or governmental body has to intervene. Thus, regulation or intervention by the administration in cultural and linguistic matters is, from this point of view, perfectly admissible, where this is to avoid the perversity of the market bringing about cultural and linguistic loss.

3 de 4