CATALAN IN EASTERN ARAGON (SPAIN)
 
http://www.uoc.es/euromosaic/web/document/catala/an/e19/e19.html
Institut de Sociolingüística Catalana

 

Catalan in Eastern Aragon (Spain)

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

This language use survey was undertaken in 1994 in that part of Catalan-speaking Aragon which borders on Catalonia proper. While the language in question is Catalan, it is not an official language in Aragon, and in this area it is the victim of a subjective reidentification, being referred to variously as chapurreau, fragatí, etc. which are references to local differences. As in other cases 300 inter­views were completed, divided by age, gender and location. As a prerequisite, all were Catalan-speakers. As will become obvious, economically the area in perspective is pri­marily agricultural, with little growth in the other economic sectors. In this respect it is important to recognise that while the agricultural sector is one in which the local population controls the means of production, it is also a sector that is under threat from the restructuring within Europe. Thus the situation surveyed must be seen within this politico-economic context.

 

LANGUAGE ABILITY:

 

The language ability of the population surveyed is evident from the following table:

 

Table 1a: ABILITY OF VARIOUS FAMILY

MEMBERS IN CATALAN AND SPANISH

 

C A T A L A N                                             S P A N I S H

 

          

Very good

Quite good

Little

None

NA

 

Very good

Quite good

Little

None

NA

Maternal GPs

41%

34%

2%

22%

 

 

30%

57%

6%

7%

 

Paternal GPs

44%

36%

2%

17%

 

 

30%

56%

9%

6%

 

Father

50%

38%

4%

8%

 

 

44%

54%

2%

 

 

Mother

50%

36%

6%

8%

 

 

43%

54%

3%

 

 

Brother

36%

30%

1%

 

33%

 

33%

38%

1%

 

28%

Sister

26%

24%

1%

 

48%

 

26%

31%

 

 

43%

Partner

32%

31%

6%

3%

28%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The intergenerational trends are more clearly observable if the data refer only to those respondents that have brothers and sisters and partners (table 1a below). Among the respondents it is clear that the grandparents (“GPs”) of a certain proportion, about one fifth, know or knew no Catalan, probably signalling that they were from outside the area. A smaller, but similar effect can be detected as regards Spanish, about one in seven of whom are reported as knowing little or no Spanish. In this case they are or were presumably local people.

 

Table 1b: ABILITY OF VARIOUS FAMILY

MEMBERS IN CATALAN AND SPANISH (data corrected)

 

C A T A L A N                                      S P A N I S H

 

Very good

Quite good

Little

None

   

Very good

Quite good

Little

None

Maternal GPs

41%

34%

2%

22%

 

30%

57%

6%

7%

Paternal GPs

44%

36%

2%

17%

 

30%

56%

9%

6%

Father

50%

38%

4%

8%

 

44%

54%

2%

0%

Mother

50%

36%

6%

8%

 

43%

54%

3%

0%

Brother

54%

45%

1%

0%

 

46%

53%

1%

0%

Sister

50%

46%

2%

0%

 

46%

54%

0%

0%

Partner

44%

43%

8%

4%

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above tables clearly show the inter-generational tendency for integration into bilingualism and away from Catalan (and Spanish) monolingual­ism. On the other hand there is a strong tendency for the reten­tion of Catalan. Indeed the informants had a subjective evaluation of their parents' ability in Catalan that was superior to their evaluation of the same ability for their grandparents. It is unclear whether this is an evaluation in terms of proximity to a standard, to degree of use, or to some 0other measure. However, we must evaluate the data for sibling ability by reference to the internal data available which indicates that almost all of their brothers and sisters knew the language to the same degree as that of their parents. The other factor associated with this inter-generational sketch is that the grandparents are attributed a significantly lower command of Spanish than does the parental generation.

 

Table 2: ABILITY LEVELS IN CATALAN AND CASTILIAN

 

 

Understand Catalan

Speak Catalan

Read Catalan

Write Catalan

Understand Spanish

Speak Spanish

Read Spanish

Write Spanish

Very good

67%

66%

13%

8%

59%

59%

49%

46%

Quite good

32%

31%

14%

7%

40%

39%

42%

42%

Little

1%

2%

26%

11%

0%

0%

6%

8%

None

0%

2%

47%

74%

1%

2%

3%

4%

 

These observations have to be qualified by the above figures which clearly demonstrate that the main ability refers to oral competences, with figures for passive and active oral competence being almost identical in Catalan, and also in Spanish. This means that nearly all of those who understand the language can also speak it. On the other hand when we move to reading and writing ability, that is, to literacy, it is clear that the ability diminishes significantly by reference to Catalan, while it is retained by reference to Spanish. The reasons for this discrepancy will become clear in what follows. It is important in the sense that literacy has a profound impact upon the practicality of use. As we shall see, this also relates to the role of other agencies and institutions in the reproduction and production processes. Indeed it appears, even from this preliminary data, that the family is a fundamental agency of reproduction.

 

FAMILY USE:

 

This high degree of inter-generational retention is reflected in the levels of intra-familial use:

 

Table 3: LANGUAGE USED WITH VARIOUS RELATIVES

(when the respondent was a child)

 

 

Catalan

Catalan & Spanish

Spanish

Other

N/A

Mat GPs

74% (80%)

17% (18%)

1% (2%)

 

8%

Pat GPs

79% (83%)

15% (16%)

1% (1%)

 

5%

Father

83%

13%

3%

0%

1%

Mother

83%

14%

3%

0%

1%

Brother

60% (84%)

8% (11%)

3% (5%)

 

29%

Sister

47% (81%)

8% (14%)

3% (5%)

 

42%

(In brackets, percentages recalculated once non-appropriate cases are discounted)

 

Evidently the vast majority of respondents used Catalan with their parents and, given the number of non-responses, with their siblings. It is striking that with reference to inter-generational use there has been little change over three genera­tions. However we must recognise that we are simply talking about respondents who were interviewed as Catalan-speakers and that there will be non-speakers for whom the situation and histo­ry will have been quite different.

 

Unsurprisingly the experience of the partner as reported by the respondents is little different:

 

Table 4: LANGUAGE USE OF PARTNER

 

 

Catalan

Catalan & Spanish

Spanish

Other

N/A

Father

60% (87%)

0%

9% (13%)

0%

31%

Mother

59% (85%)

1% (1%)

10% (14%)

0%

31%

Brother

55% (86%)

4% (6%)

5% (8%)

0%

36%

Sister

52% (87%)

7% (10%)

9% (13%)

0%

33%

(In brackets, percentages recalculated once non-appropriate cases are discounted)

 

Most used Catalan with their parents, other relatives and with their children.

 

Table 5: LANGUAGE OF CHILDREN TOGETHER

 

Always Catalan

31%

Catalan > Spanish

16%

Cast=Catalan

2%

Spanish > Catalan

3%

Always Spanish

3%

NA

45%

 

Similarly the children in the family retain the tendency to use Catalan togeth­er, with over five-sixths of them using only or mainly Catalan together. So it is not surprising that Catalan is claimed to be the main language used in most of the households both at specific times such as at meals as well as between the different household members:

 

Table 6: LANGUAGE OF HOUSEHOLD (currently)

 

 

Catalan

Catalan & Spanish

Spanish

N/A

At meals

79%

10%

10%

1%

With mother

82%

1%

15%

2%

With father

80%

2%

15%

3%

With partner

59% (82%)

7% (9%)

7% (9%)

27%

With children

54% (83%)

7% (11%)

4% (6%)

35%

With other relatives

55% (82%)

2% (3%)

10% (15%)

33%

(In brackets, percentages recalculated once non-appropriate cases are discounted)

 

 

COMMUNITY USE:

 

The situation changes somewhat by reference to community use:

 

Table 7: FREQUENCY EVALUATION OF USE OF CATALAN IN THE COMMUNITY

 

 

Streets, as child

Streets, now

 

Shops, as child

Shops, now

 

Church, as child

Church, now

 

Clubs, as child

Clubs, now

Often    

90%

98%

 

91%

98%

 

7%

4%

 

55%

66%

Sometimes  

3%

2%

 

2%

1%

 

9%

15%

 

8%

10%

Rarely   

0%

0%

 

0%

0%

 

28%

27%

 

10%

5%

Never    

7%

1%

 

7%

1%

 

55%

55%

 

27%

19%

 

It would appear that in most cases there has been an increase in the community use of Catalan. It is important to stress that this is a subjective evaluation which, in all likelihood, relates to the changing economic climate and the increased status of Catalan in the post-Franco period. It is the Church that stands out as the negative factor, showing little use of Catalan by this measure.

 

Let us now turn to a consideration of the various facets of language use within the community by beginning with a considera­tion of the role of language in the activities that pertain to child socialisation.

 

The following table makes it clear that the number of re­spondents who produced relevant information are few but that Catalan does appear to be widely used in the activities undertak­en by children:

 

Table 8: LANGUAGE USE OF CHILDREN IN VARIOUS ACTIVITIES

 

 

Catalan

Spanish

Catalan & Spanish

NA

Football

17%

0%

2%

81%

Gymnastics

2%

0%

1%

97%

Swimming

2%

0%

0%

98%

Theatre

0%

0%

0%

100%

Esplai” (playgroups)

6%

0%

1%

93%

 

Turning to the adults we find the following expression of the subjective evaluation of context and language ability:

 

Table 9: PERCENTAGE ABILITY OF CONTACTS BY CONTEXT

 

Ability

Friends

Shops

Sports

Cultural

Neighbours

90%+   

73%

82%

43%

43%

45%

80-90%   

15%

10%

29%

29%

28%

70-80%   

8%

7%

17%

19%

17%

60-70%   

4%

0%

9%

7%

8%

50-60%   

0%

0%

2%

2%

2%

<50%    

0%

0%

1%

1%

0%

NA       

13

14

192

139

16

 

Percentages calculated on valid answers.

 

Again it is evident that when it comes to social networks and contact with the retail sector the vast majority of the interloc­utors are able to speak Catalan. While the other three contexts show less of a tendency, the overall impression is one of a strongly Catalan-speaking environment. It is particularly inter­esting to note the difference between the data for 'friends' and 'neighbours', the higher ability for the former indicates the extent to which language structures social networks.

 

The actual language used in relation to these categories is demonstrated in the following table:

 

Table 10: LANGUAGE USED IN THESE CONTEXTS

 

Language

Friends

Shops

Sports

Cultural

Neighbours

Catalan

134

195

19

26

87

Catalan>Spanish

142

85

62

96

167

Catalan=Spanish

16

7

25

32

36

Spanish>Catalan

3

2

6

9

7

Spanish

2

1

1

5

1

NA

3

10

187

132

2

 

Language

 Friends 

 Shops 

 Sports 

 Cultural 

Neighbours

Catalan

45%

67%

17%

15%

29%

Catalan>Spanish

48%

29%

55%

57%

56%

Catalan=Spanish

5%

2%

22%

19%

12%

Spanish>Catalan 

1%

1%

5%

5%

2%

Spanish

1%

0%

1%

3%

0%

NA

3

10

187

132

2

 

Percentages calculated on valid answers.

 

Again Catalan dominates even though some degree of Castilian enters into all activities. What was said above about the role of language in structuring social relationships is even more evident in the above table. Had we sought to undertake a proper­ly constructed and contextualised network analysis we feel that this element would have been even more evident. Evidently those who use more Castilian than Catalan in their local life are limited in number but that there is a somewhat greater tendency for Castilian to enter sports and cultural activities than social relationships and shopping. The following affords more informa­tion along these lines. It refers to language use in 11 of 13 specific situations (only items with more than 20 respondents have been retained).

 

Table 11: LANGUAGE USED IN DIFFERENT ACTIVITIES/CONTEXTS

 

 

Catalan> Spanish

Catalan= Spanish

Spanish> Catalan

N/A

Unorganised sport

100%

0%

0%

272

Bars/cafe

90%

9%

1%

96

Buy theatre tickets

89%

7%

4%

272

Visit friends

88%

11%

1%

72

Young farmers assoc.

82%

14%

4%

227

Organised sport

81%

15%

4%

233

Other

79%

11%

9%

247

Voluntary associations

70%

19%

11%

273

Eating out

69%

28%

3%

90

Parents’ association

17%

61%

22%

277

Church

8%

2%

90%

199

 

The clear exception in the above table is religious activities and we shall return to this factor shortly. Perhaps, unsur­prisingly, the parent teacher's association of the local schools also shows a tendency to favour Castilian. Considering informal social activities such as visiting bars and cafes, or visiting friends, it is clear that those who offer much of a role for Castilian in such activities amount to no more than about 10%. Voluntary activities including sport also reflect the same tendency, especially where these activities are unorganised.

 

When we consider the various institutions and actors which members of any society come into contact with in their daily life we get a clearer picture of language use:

 

 

Table 12: LANGUAGE ABILITY AND USE BY CONTEXT

    

 

I can't and don't use Catalan

I can and do use Catalan

I can but don’t use Catalan

N/A

Family doctor

89%

6%

4%

1%

Dentist

60%

4%

1%

35%

Petrol

2%

52%

3%

42%

Newspaper

1%

68%

5%

25%

Bar

2%

79%

3%

15%

Theatre ticket

5%

30%

3%

62%

Car repair

2%

53%

3%

43%

Hairdresser

4%

87%

5%

5%

Sport

1%

23%

2%

74%

Library

5%

22%

3%

70%

Teacher

10%

10%

4%

77%

Restaurant

3%

60%

4%

32%

Town council

4%

66%

7%

24%

Shop

2%

78%

4%

17%

Driving Instructor

10%

10%

1%

79%

Lawyer

22%

12%

2%

65%

Bank manager

41%

21%

9%

29%

Washing-machine

11%

44%

2%

44%

Water board

8%

48%

2%

42%

Social security

63%

5%

1%

31%

Hi-Fi shop

8%

40%

1%

51%

Travel office

14%

18%

3%

65%

Optician 

29%

22%

4%

44%

Social worker

30%

5%

4%

61%

Parish priest

15%

25%

25%

34%

Housing 

60%

6%

3%

31%

Electrician

38%

16%

10%

36%

Ask a stranger the time 

16%

19%

36%

29%

Telephone company

55%

7%

2%

36%

Gas board 

21%

52%

2%

25%

Post office

63%

20%

3%

14%

Taxi 

8%

32%

5%

54%

 

[Graph 1]

 

Evidently the number who choose not to use Catalan when it is possible is small. It is also clear that there are some contexts in which it is not possible to use the language. Thus the more professional contexts involving the doctor and dentist and the official con­texts involving state officials are weak in this respect. On the other hand the language is widely used in local contexts, espe­cially in the retail sector. Two situations in which Catalan is claimed to be useable but, by many, not actually used, are asking a stranger the time and speaking to the parish priest.

              

This brings us to a consideration of the relationship of the Church to the Catalan language:

 

Table 13: LANGUAGE OF RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES

 

 

Spanish

Span> Cat

Span+ Cat

Catal> Span

Catalan

Other

N/A

Mass 

218

6

2

1

2

 

71

Communion 

224

2

1

0

1

 

72

Wedding

224

2

2

 

 

 

72

Christening  

224

2

1

 

 

 

73

Catechism

220

3

1

1

1

3

66

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spanish

Span> Cat

Span+ Cat

Catal> Span

Catalan

Other

N/A

Mass 

95%

3%

1%

0%

1%

0%

71

Communion 

98%

1%

0%

0%

0%

0%

72

Wedding

98%

1%

1%

0%

0%

0%

72

Christening  

99%

1%

0%

0%

0%

0%

73

Catechism

96%

1%

0%

0%

0%

1%

66

 

In some of the 18 language groups in which we have undertaken a lan­guage use survey it has been evident that religion has played a central role in redressing the inequality involved in language use. This is not the case by reference to Catalan in Aragon. On the contrary, it is evident that Catalan plays virtually no role in religious activities. When we recog­nise the importance of the family in reproducing the language it is surprising, and telling, that even the ceremony that consecrates that institution is not available in Catalan.

 

EDUCATION:

 

It is evident from the following table that there is virtually no educational provision in the Catalan language in the region. The table speaks for itself in demonstrating the domination of Spanish in the local educational context at all educational levels:

 

Table 14: LANGUAGE OF SIBLING'S EDUCATION (by age-groups)

 

 

Infant

8-13

14-18

19+

Spanish

331

305

122

23

Catalan + Spanish

6

5

10

12

Catalan

1

1

1

2

NA

560

560

766

861

 

 

 

 

 

 

Infant

8-13

14-18

19+

Spanish

98%

98%

92%

62%

Catalan + Spanish

2%

2%

8%

32%

Catalan

0%

0%

1%

5%

NA

560

560

766

861

 

This is confirmed when we look at the language of the various features of education. We even encounter the absurdity of the teaching of a language through the medium of another language, even when that language is the mother tongue. This is not to deny that a minimum concession is made by reference to the teach­ing of Catalan but it would be expected, given everything that academics have said about the value of language teaching methods, that the tendency to teach one language through the medium of another would have been abandoned.

 

Table 15: LANGUAGE OF CHILDREN'S EDUCATION BY SUBJECT

 

 

Catalan

Spanish

N/A

 

Catalan

Spanish

Catalan

55

24

220

 

70%

30%

History

5

150

145

 

3%

97%

Geography

4

155

141

 

3%

97%

Gymnastics

3

149

148

 

2%

98%

Biology

3

156

141

 

2%

98%

Religion

3

156

141

 

2%

98%

Art

2

145

153

 

1%

99%

Modern languages

2

147

151

 

1%

99%

Mathematics

2

155

143

 

1%

99%

 

THE WORLD OF WORK:

 

As we indicated in the introduction, the local economy is dominated by agricultural activity and a small scale service sector. It is hardly surprising therefore that almost two thirds of the respondents were engaged in agricultural activities. A further 7% worked in commerce and sales. Of the 20% or so who worked for firms, the vast majority worked for local firms em­ploying a small workforce that were owned by Catalan speakers. This information colours the following discussion.

 

Of those employed by firms, 44 worked in establishments having 2-4 employees, 10 in firms with 5-24 employees, and only 8 in larger firms. Most of these worked for firms which were also locally-owned by Catalan-speakers. Most of those working for these firms spoke Catalan. Only one worked for a company with a total language policy, for most had none, and few claimed that firms employed any workers because of their knowledge of the Catalan lan­guage.

 

It is interesting that while the following indicates that for most respondents Catalan was, in their opinion, of relevance for their work, only one person stated that the firm they worked for had a complete language policy as regards Catalan. Most firms had no such policy and language does not appear to be relevant for hiring practices.

 

Table 16: IMPORTANCE OF SPANISH AND CATALAN FOR WORK

Catalan:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

understand

speak

Read

write

 

understand

speak

read

write

Necessary

15

5

8

38

 

23%

8%

12%

58%

Useful

43

16

6

26

 

66%

25%

9%

40%

Irrelevant

7

44

51

1

 

11%

68%

78%

2%

 

65

65

65

65

 

100%

100%

100%

100%

Spanish:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

understand

speak

read

write

 

understand

speak

read

write

Necessary

38

36

33

2

 

58%

55%

51%

1%

Useful

25

18

19

48

 

38%

28%

29%

16%

Irrelevant

2

11

13

242

 

3%

17%

20%

83%

 

65

65

65

292

 

100%

100%

100%

100%

 

Having said so much it is difficult to imagine that a non-Castilian-speaking worker would find obtaining employment easy.

 

MEDIA:

 

In this border region it is possible to obtain both radio and television transmission from Catalonia. Thus the following figures are unsurprising:

 

Table 17: EXTENT OF LISTENING/WATCHING BROADCASTING MEDIA

 

No. hours 

Radio

Radio

Television

Television

 

Castilian

Catalan

Castilian

Catalan

0

89 (30%)

73 (24%)

27 (9%)

34 (11%)

1

125 (42%)

104 (35%)

117 (39%)

84 (28%)

2/3

78 (26%)

99 (33%)

146 (49%)

168 (56%)

>3

8 (3%)

24 (8%)

10 (3%)

14 (5%)

total

(100%)

(100%)

(100%)

(100%)

(In brackets, percentages recalculated once non-appropriate cases are discounted)

 

Evidently the respondents tend to listen and watch the broadcast­ing media in both languages but with a greater tendency to listen to more of it in Catalan than in Castilian.

 

Given what we have said above about the ability to read and write in Catalan as opposed to Castilian, which is mainly an effect of the absence of Catalan in the educational system, the following figures offer no surprises:

 

Table 18: READERSHIP OF BOOKS AND NEWSPAPERS

 

 

Catalan

Catalan

Spanish

Spanish

 

Catalan

Catalan

Spanish

Spanish

 

Books

Newspapers

Books

Newspapers

 

Books

Newspapers

Books

Newspapers

Often

4

3

15

22

 

1%

1%

5%

7%

Sometimes   

13

9

49

73

 

4%

3%

16%

24%

Occasionally  

24

52

115

143

 

8%

17%

38%

48%

Never

259

236

121

62

 

86%

79%

40%

21%

Total

300

300

300

300

 

 

 

 

 

 

Readership in Catalan is low (86% never read books in Catalan, 79% never read newspapers in this language) while that in Castilian is relatively high although the number who do not read at all is quite high.

 

IDENTITY AND ATTITUDES:

 

Given the strength of Catalan as a family and community medium it might be expected that this would either be a manifestation of a high Catalan self-identity, or that it was a product of such an identity. The following figures suggest that this is not the case, for only 19% claim a Catalan identity:

 

Table 19: PERCEIVED IDENTITY

 

 

Yes

No

N/A

 

Yes

No

N/A

Aragonese 

238

60

2

 

79%

20%

1%

Catalan 

57

243

0

 

19%

81%

0%

Spanish

227

73

0

 

76%

24%

0%

European

180

118

2

 

60%

39%

1%

 

It might be thought that the Catalan identity is encompassed in the Aragonese identity. However, the high figures for both Aragon and Spanish identity argue against this sugges­tion. Rather it would appear that language use is not a self-conscious act, but instead, being a feature of normative social practice, it is institutionalised to the extent that it is unquestioned as behaviour. Having said so much, we have already noted that a minority of almost 20% do claim a Catalan identity.

 

Perhaps it is the institutionalised nature of Catalan language behaviour that serves to explain some of the surprises in the following attitudinal data:

 

Table 20: ATTITUDE SCORES

 

 

Orientation

Total

 

 

 

Total

Average

N/A or

Disagree

Agree

Don’t know

Negative statements:

 

1

2

3

4

5

 

 

9 The Catalan language cannot be made suitable for business and science

-ive

115

46

85

8

2

1,97

44

11 Most people view things associated with Catalan as too old-fashioned

-ive

99

65

45

21

2

1,97

68

7 Catalan has no place in the modern world

-ive

110

88

80

14

2

2,01

6

5 You are considered a lower class person if you speak Catalan

-ive

94

83

50

33

3

2,12

37

3 Catalan is a dying language

-ive

94

74

98

15

1

2,13

18

1 To get on, there are more valuable languages to learn than Catalan

-ive

32

70

133

47

3

2,72

15

Positive statements:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 It is essential that children in the area learn Catalan

+ive

8

36

115

88

52

3,47

1

4 The "Franja" would not really be what it is without Catalan-speaking people

+ive

12

72

80

83

18

3,09

35

6 In order to work in the public sector in the area, one should be able to speak Catalan

+ive

21

53

126

83

13

3,05

4

10 Speaking Catalan helps people get promotion in their jobs

+ive

10

104

130

44

0

2,72

12

2 It seems to me a good idea that some councils in the area use only Catalan in their administration

+ive

81

87

95

26

6

2,28

5

 

What is surprising about the above table is the closeness of the average scores, which range from a low of 2·0 to a high of 3·5. This indicates that the consensus tends to revolve around the middle which is also evident from the actual figures. On the other hand when we consider the positive and negative statements vis-à-vis Catalan it is striking that apart from state­ment no. 1, all the others have scores of 2·0 or 2·1. There is less of a consistency with reference to the positive statements. This would suggest that there is more of a tendency to deny any rejec­tion of Catalan than there is to affirm it.

 

When we turn to a consideration of the actual statements we notice that the only negative statement to receive any sizeable support is “To get on, there are more valuable languages to learn than Catalan” which nevertheless is rejected by more than half the respondents. Three such statements are clearly rejected: “The Catalan language cannot be made suitable for business and science”, “Most people view things associated with Catalan as too old-fashioned”, and “Catalan has no place in the modern world”.

 

One of the positive statements is supported by a clear majority: “It is essential that children in the area learn Catalan”, while two positive statements are rejected by more than half the respondents: “Speaking Catalan helps people get promotion in their jobs”, and especially “It seems to me a good idea that some councils in the area use only Catalan in their administration”.

 

The data concerning the perceived interest of different institutions and actors concerning Catalan (on a scale of 1 to 7) is quite illuminating when placed at the end of the preceding discussion:

 

Table 21: PERCEIVED INTEREST OF VARIOUS

INSTITUTIONS AND GROUPS IN CATALAN

 

Myself

3,42

My friends

3,33

My family

3,20

Local council

2,83

In-migrants

2,04

Catholic Church

1,77

Private companies

1,74

Spanish government

1,68

Regional Council

1,69

Other public authorities

1,60

 

Given that this area does not have a high incidence of large private companies, nor of in-migrants, the high number of non-re­sponses to these items is not surprising. This, together with the other data, indicates that many respondents have only re­sponded to what they are familiar with. Four of the items pertain to various levels of public authorities and it is clear that neither the central government nor the regional government are seen to have much interest in Catalan. The situation is a little different with respect to the local government. Given what we have said above it is hardly surprising that the Catholic Church is evaluated in as negative a light vis-à-vis Catalan as are the public authorities. Indeed, the only positive evaluation pertains to the close social network constructed out of the respondent's relationship with his/her family and friends, with the self, family and friends all being seen as having posi­tive orientations towards Catalan.

 

CONCLUSION

 

It would appear that this particular language group has to be treated quite separately from Catalan speakers in Catalonia. While there is a high incidence of language use in the family, the community and social networks, and while the work context does not involve the entry of external agencies that could serve to undermine the language, and while there is a tendency to resort to the use of the external Catalan language broadcasting media, there must be concern about the absence of any broader support context. The Church and the official authorities tend to be regarded as important institutions which at best can be said to be indifferent to Catalan. Now it cannot be claimed that these are central agencies, somehow irrelevant to the language group. They are central agencies in the lives of virtually all of the Catalan speakers in the area.

 

Reproduction is strong because of the limited extent of lan­guage group exogamy and in-migration. Similarly the community plays its role in reproduction. What engenders less confidence is the issue of language production since, apart from the commu­nity, there is no agency such as the Church or the educational system that can serves as agencies of language production for the person who does not come from a Catalan background. Thus it is perhaps fortunate for those interested in sustaining the lan­guage, that the language is highly institutionalised by reference to two of the key agencies of reproduction: the family and the community. It is less institutionalised by reference to work, apart from the fact that, as the main language of intra-familial interaction, it automatically becomes the language of work for family enterprises. It is certainly not legitimised in any context by being a feature of any form of policy, whether it relates to the firm, the Church or the state in its various guises. On the contrary, the responses to the questionnaire indicate, at best, a sense of indifference from these directions, while one suspects that open antagonism may also be detectable. At the ideological level the existence of the broadcasting media, and its wide use by Catalan-speakers offers a positive orientation. However this comes from outside of the local community and may be in danger of being treated as such. There is nothing in the identity re­sponses which indicates that there is a self-conscious awareness of the linking of language to any kind of Catalan identity. Rather it would appear to be incorporated as one of several forms of Aragonese identity.

©Euromosaic