4. Do you think that in five years’ time Catalan will be used
more, equally or less than today?
Population aged between 15 and 29
* Population of 15 years and over
Source: Statistics of linguistic uses in Catalonia 2003. (n = 7,000)
Young people in Catalonia use one language or another
depending on the competence acquired in each of the languages, on
the social contexts in which they are found, on the rules of linguistic
use and on linguistic attitudes. Therefore it can be concluded that
these are the main factors that influence the uses reproduced in
the diagram on page 4.
Completely competent in Catalan
First of all we should look at the matter of complete competence
in both languages of young people in Catalunya. Linguistic competence
that is acquired at school and the competence necessary to be able
to use the language normally in everyday life do not correspond.
As could be seen in the discussion groups, the linguistic environment
of the person is a determinant factor in acquiring competence suitable
to express oneself confidently and fluently in a language.
The family appears as the first linguistic environment which determines,
to a great degree, the competence acquired after the adolescent
stage. This family environment is one of the main factors that explains
the habitual uses of young Catalan people. At the same time, this
influence is stronger in the case of Spanish-speaking homes as the
change between the use of the family language and the habitual language
is made more difficult. It can be seen, therefore, that there is
some difficulty in the transfer among some young people of Spanish-speaking
origin due to lack of expressive competence in Catalan. This is
why young Spanish speakers who almost never use Catalan say they
know this language because they have learnt it at school but they
do not use it because their family environment does not favour it.
The changes in linguistic uses occur more frequently among young
people whose family language is Catalan and Spanish equally or just
The family origin is the determining factor in the family language
and at the same time in the habitual use of language of young people.
It should be pointed out that the family origin that has been studied
at a quantitative level is determined by the parents' place of birth.
However, at a qualitative level, we could make out a tendency to
speak more of family origin in general. In this sense, there are
young people with parents born in Catalonia who speak Spanish with
them because the origin of the grandparents set this trend. In this
case, the parents maintain the linguistic transmission of the family
of origin. Quite surely, the historic context has enormously influenced
this fact, as a great part of the generation of the parents of today's
young people lived in a strongly Spanish-speaking linguistic context.
The linguistic contexts of young people are the set of areas in
which young people make use of the language or languages. As we
have seen in the case of a family environment, the contexts greatly
influence uses but also competence through the practice of the language
in any context.
Outside the family environment, in first place, we should highlight
the influence of the place of residence as, to a great degree, it
will define the linguistic environment of the young person. In second
place, with regard to the fact that young people who are currently
studying and those who have higher studies have a greater tendency
to use Catalan, we can deduce that the secondary school, university
and the work environment could be linguistic environments that are
favourable for Catalan. With regard to the working environment,
we should also mention that this can be the contrary. The studies
of linguistic uses in the labour world indicate that there are sectors
in which the use of Catalan is more frequent than in others.
In third place, it has been considered that the consumption of
leisure time and culture, membership of associations and ICT use,
would also give determined linguistic uses among young people. In
this case, the conclusions of the quantitative analysis indicate
that cultural consumption and ICT are associated to the level of
studies which is the variable that has the strongest influence on
Specifically, young people with higher levels of studies are more
likely to use ICTs (greater use of computers, the Internet, etc.)
and more intense cultural consumption (reading books, going to the
cinema and other activities). Therefore, what had been shown in
an initial exploratory analysis as an association between habitual
linguistic uses in Catalan and the use of ICTs and more intense
cultural consumption was, in fact, an influence of the young people's
level of studies.
Qualitatively speaking, the influence of the linguistic offer in
the areas related to the consumption of leisure and culture (music,
television, cinema among others) is notable. Specifically, with
regard to musical tastes we could see identity aspects which, in
the case of music sung in Catalan, are completely linked to the
language of identification (the one they consider to be their own
language) that is linked to a specific young person's style. At
the same time, it mentions the offer of cultural consumption, above
all musical, in diverse languages as one of the other factors that
influences when using one or another language in music and television.
In this case, they mention linguistic consumption in English, considered
to be a lingua franca and global language. Young people perceive
the effects of globalisation and take on the tastes of a global
society combining them with a taste for products from closer to
home, linked to identity and style or young people's fashion to
which they feel a bond.
Membership of associations is another of the factors that is part
of the quantitative model that determines the linguistic uses of
young Catalan people. Taking into account that in this practice
social networks are created, we need to see the implications of
this fact. It could be said that knowing people places people before
new rules of linguistic use, also that membership of associations
makes up a linguistic environment for the person which, in this
case, is favourable for using Catalan more often. Therefore, it
could also indicate an influence on competence in Catalan and could
even have an important influence on the linguistic attitudes of
Finally, we should not forget the global social contexts with which
young people live and that are found in any specific context. The
effects of globalisation: English as a language of international
communication, the new forms of relationships between people —both
with regard to new channels as well as relationships between different
countries and languages— the constant entry of foreign people
who live either temporarily or permanently in Catalonia, the linguistic
offer, the linguistic policies, among others factors that have a
great influence on the linguistic uses of young Catalan people.
As we have seen in the case of cultural consumption, young people
perceive the effects of globalisation in their linguistic uses.
The effects of globalisation go beyond languages and, as indicated
in the articles of Roger Martinez or Joe Gritxi and this report,
may have the effect of strengthening local traditions and customs.
Rules of linguistic use
With regard to the rules of use, we should distinguish between
rules of social use and rules of interpersonal use. On the one hand,
the rules of social or group use would be those that determine linguistic
uses for each occasion and context that is socially known and recognized.
These are the ones that mark certain behaviour classified by Catalan
society, such as rules of "politeness" or "respect"
towards speakers of one or another language. These rules determine,
to a great degree, the linguistic convergence of people who use
Catalan towards Spanish. Young people learn these rules of use in
the socialisation process, in the family and at school, among other
On the other hand, there are the rules of interpersonal use that
determine the linguistics uses of each specific relationship with
each of the members of the family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances.
Young people are not an exception in this case and declare that
when there are linguistic uses acquired with any person they know,
these are very difficult to change. It is very exceptional and it
is understood to be a "strange" thing that two people
who maintain a relationship in one language can change their uses
and starts to speak in another language in their relationship.
Finally, with regard to linguistic attitudes, we need to evaluate
their influence on linguistic uses. When we speak about the language
of identification, what one considers to be one's personal or own
language, this is an attitude in the face of a linguistic fact.
Identification places people, it shapes preferences and influences
the use of a language or not.
At the same time, linguistic attitudes are important for shaping
linguistic awareness with the preservation of languages. Young people
who identify with Catalan, despite not having permanent awareness
about the uses that are required for the preservation of the language,
show some awareness because of this. On the whole, they are young
people in favour of promoting the language and they say they try
to promote Catalan with their individual behaviour but they move
away from Catalan monolingual positions because they consider that
being bilingual is an advantage and an added value over those who
are not bilingual.
Therefore, individual contexts such as linguistic competence, group
contexts such as linguistic environment and social contexts such
as rules or the linguistic offer of the cultural industries are
factors which, beyond the characteristics of a specific young person,
influenced the linguistic uses of young people in Catalonia. The
possibility of changing them will come from the changes in each
factor without forgetting that each change will influence the rest
of the factors.
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