Linguistics & Politics Y1
Dr Elisenda Marcer
Session 1
• Historical perspective
- Origins of Catalan Language
- Catalan Golden Age
- ‘Decadència’
- Modern times
- 20th century
What is Catalan?
What is Catalan? Is it a dialect?
Is it a minority language? Is it
worth learning…?
Origins of Catalan
• 10th century. First written document
in Catalan is found
• 10th – 15th century. Expansion of
Catalan territories and language
towards Valencia, Balearic Islands
and across the Mediterranean to
Sicily, Sardinia and Greece
• Catalan literature flourished during
these years:
– Ramon Llull (c1232-1315)
– Ausiàs March (c1397-1459)
– Joanot Martorell (c1414-1468)
• Spanish Succession
(1705-1715) the use of
Catalan was actively
discouraged by an
increasingly centralised
Spanish state
• 1714 – The king Felip V
abolished all Catalan
institutions and prohibited
the use of Catalan by
imposing Spanish
Modern times
• 18th century. Restoration of Catalan language
which was considered as an element of
collective identity
• 19th century. Social and economic growth of
• Linguistic and cultural gains were consummated
in the modernisme movement
The beginning of 20th century
• Noucentisme: standardisation and
modernisation of Catalan
– Catalan grammar by Pompeu Fabra
– Institut d’Estudis Catalans (1907);
one of the institutional pillars of the
new Catalanism
– Mancomunitat of Catalonia (19141925) the ancestor of the present
Generalitat (Catalan autonomous
Catalan language under
• Primo de Rivera coup (1923)
• II Republic (1931-1933) Generalitat
promoted the use of Catalan for education,
administration, communications and
• 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War. Repression
of Catalan language and culture
Repression of Catalan language
since 18th century
• 1716 prohibition of the use of Catalan in the
administration of justice
• 1768 prohibition of the use of Catalan in public education
• 1772 prohibition of the use of Catalan in theatrical
• 1801 prohibition of the use of Catalan in documents
drawn up by notaries
• 1896 prohibition of the use of Catalan in telephone
• 1923 prohibition of the teaching of Catalan as an
optional subject
Session 2
• Linguistic perspective
- Diglossia
- Principle of Language accommodation
- Language Rights and Duties
- Linguistic policy
- Linguistic campaigns
Linguistic perspective
‘It is vital to make a serious
assessment of the impact of the
Franco regime on the Catalan cultural
tradition because it remains at the
root of the greatest problems we face’
(Joan Manuel Tresserras 1999:712)
Diglossia: a situation of conflict
between languages which coexist where the decision to opt for
one language rather than other is
made on the basis of sociocultural prestige.
Principle of language
• There is a tendency for Catalans to
respond in Castilian when addressed by a
person speaking Catalan with a nonCatalan accent.
• Such response was termed by Miquel
Strubell ‘ethnolinguistic accommodation’
(Strubell: 23)
Language Rights and Duties
• In order to achieve full equality between the
two languages, in Catalonia everyone has
the right:
– to know both official languages
– to express themselves in either of the two
– to receive attention in either of the official
Does equality between the two
languages exist?
An important note from these definitions:
while knowledge and use of both Spanish
and Catalan are rights, only knowledge of
Spanish is a duty.
Linguistic Policy
• According to the Catalan Statute of
Autonomy (1979), the Generalitat will
guarantee the normal and official use of
both languages and it will take steps to
achieve full equality between them.
• The Law for the Linguistic Normalization of
Catalan (Law 7/ 1983, of 18 April 1983)
• The Law of Linguistic Policy (Law 1/1998,
of 7 January 1998)
La Norma
• Norma es un homenaje a miles de niños de toda Cataluña que
ya han podido aprender el catalán en la escuela y que, haciendo
de “Norma” cada día, hacen que nos demos cuenta de que no
conocemos suficientemente nuestra lengua y, nos enseñan a
• Esta nueva generación de catalanes, que nos corrige y nos motiva
a hablar mejor, ha despertado ya nuestra conciencia colectiva.
• Este sentimiento se da en las casas, en la calle, en las tiendas, en
el trabajo... En todas partes hay una “Norma” o alguien que parte
• de una “Norma” nos recordará que “El catalán es cosa de todos”
y nos dará la oportunidad de explicarnos mejor y de recuperar, al
mismo tiempo, una parte de nuestra propia identidad.
Slogans (1980-2008)
• 1980 – ‘El català és cosa de tots’
(Catalan is everyone’s business)
• 1990 – ‘Treu la llengua’
(Stick out your tongue)
• 2006 – ‘El català va amb tu’
(Catalan suits you)
• 2008 – ‘El català, llengua d’acollida’
(Catalan is a welcoming language)
Linguistic campaigns
• BALCELLS, A. (1996) Catalan Nationalism. Past and Present.
London, Macmillan Press.
• BASTARDAS, J. (2007) Multilingualism, Language Ecology, and
Language Sustainability. University of Barcelona. Available online:,languageec
• HALL J. (1990) Knowledge of Catalan languae (1975-1986).
Barcelona, Generalitat de Catalunya, Departament de Cultura.
• ________ (2001) Convivència In Catalonia: Languages Living
Together. Barcelona: Fundació Jaume Bofill.
• HOFFMAN, C. (2006), Balancing Language Planning and Language
Rights. Catalonia’s uneasy juggling act, University of Salford, UK,
(available online:
• WEBBER, J. and STRUBELL, M (1991) The Catalan Language
Progress Towards Normalisation, núm. 7. Sheffield: The AngloCatalan Society Occasional Publications, [pdf copy on:]
Internet resources
Revista de sociolingüíscia (with articles in English available online:
http:// (Catalan autonomous government) (Institute Ramon Llull from la Generalitat)
http:// (Catalan Culture)
http://www.idescat (Catalan Institute of Statistics) (Institute of Catalan Studies) (Consortium of Linguistic Normalization)
Television and radio (Catalan public television –TV3-Canal 33) (Barcelona local television) (Catalan public radio-Catalunya Ràdio) (Catalan public municipal radio network)

Linguistics & Politics Y1