The material for the corpus of oral
communication in the mass media comes mainly from television programmes
on the channels TV3 (Una altra cosa, Jetlag, El cor de la ciutat),
Canal33 (manga and cartoon series, Super 3) and Flaix TV, recorded
between 20th of March and 10th of April 2003. In addition, the
corpus of 10 chapters of the series Plats bruts from 2001 was
included as when collecting data in the questionnaires, many adolescents
mentioned this series.
Summary of the results
Adolescents’ way of speaking
represented in the corpus is found in a field of tension. The
poles of this field are, on the one hand the Catalan language
and culture and, on the other hand, the forms of urban expression
of young people’s culture and an urban setting with a more
Hispanic influence than any other region in the country. Therefore,
it is not surprising that despite the fact that the present corpus
is relatively small, a tendency can be defined: adolescents use
more phenomena of Spanish greetings in the daily use of the language
than programmes of the mass media aimed at them.(4)
In the television programmes recorded,
one finds an attempt to approximate to the phenomena of the youth
culture. However the absence of some usual phenomena in young
people's language, such as the use of the discourse markers "vale"
(ok) or "bueno" (right) is noticeable. These markers
appear very rarely in mass media language or are used expressively
as style resources; on the other hand, the use of markers is one
of the most characteristic features in the way in which the young
informants speak. The mass media have a conflict with regard to
the use of pragmatic markers. As many authors, as well as standardised
grammar books, consider lexemes such as "bueno" to be
not just Spanish interference, but also -with negative connotations-
errors that should be avoided, the linguistic services of the
television channels are obliged not to use them if they wish to
maintain their status of "language guarantors" (cf.
Bassols et al. 1997).
The use of Spanish interference
shows that the mass media unconsciously distances itself from
young people's language. It avoids certain features, not because
they are typical of young people's language, as in the programmes
chosen for this work the proximity to young people's language
represents a positive factor and one that contributes to the success
of the programme, but because they do not adhere to the linguistic
standard. However, the valuation that the linguists of the channels
consulted make of their own programmes for young people with regards
to their proximity to young people's language is, in some areas,
far removed from reality. This occurs above all when the features
of young people's language coincide with "authentic"
or alleged Spanish interference. They are avoided by appealing
to linguistic purity (cf. Salvanyà 2003:28). Even in programmes
that are based on spontaneous, unplanned language, such as Una
altra cosa, relatively few phenomena of young people's language
appear and also fewer language greeting phenomena than is often
The careless use that adolescents
make of language is often considered to be a "decadence of
the language" and, when compared to the standard, it is valued
in a negative way. If we refer in particular to the standards
for written language, it is clear that divergences will appear.
And inversely, adolescents also unconsciously move away from the
young people's language of the mass media.
In the examples given, the conflict
between the standards and the individual creation of a language
and between Spanish and Catalan is evident. For young people,
when they communicate with each other, this conflict is relatively
unimportant. They use the features that diverged from the standard
in a natural way and do not pay much attention to Spanish borrowing.
The way in which the young Catalan informants speak is found in
a field of tension between the ongoing desire to break the rules
and the need to use these rules to make communication more fluent.
Nevertheless bilingualism is an interesting component. The fact
that young people break the linguistic standards by borrowing
Spanish features does not prevent communication, even though the
presence of these features in the Catalan may be very heavy. Intelligibility
by all the bilingual participants of the conversation -the informants
of the corpus- is guaranteed at all times. Therefore, adolescents
have a communicative freedom that means that, in the purely linguistic
area -and not in the political or cultural area-the above-mentioned
field of tension is for them a source for extending their linguistic
However, because of this, the mass
media aimed at young people faces real and, in part, problematic
tensions: as we have explained, they feel committed both to the
public and to taking care of the language. Now, more than ever,
they are facing the task of finding a linguistic form of expression
that satisfies various demands: on the one hand, it must obey
the principles of linguistic policy but, on the other hand, it
must reflect the use that adolescent speakers make of the language.
Essential aspects for a "normal" survival of Catalan
are not just the influence and the unarguably important effects
that the mass media has on young people with regards to taking
care of the language in the areas marked by the forms of informal
speech. Guiding the mass media to the linguistic transformations
that occur specifically in these areas is just as important. We
need to try and find a standard for young people's language, particularly
spoken and -as a next step-for general language, that respects
the linguistic reality of the young people -and therefore of the
adults they will later be-and that is accepted as a source of
linguistic innovation and creativity.
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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin