Re-thinking balanced bilingualism
The impact of globalization in Catalonia
Traditionally, Catalonia is seen as a successful example of language revitalization, through the achievement and maintenance of a fairly stable Castilian/Catalan bilingualism for the last thirty years or so. Recently, however, Catalonia has experienced significant immigration in the context of globalization. The autonomous government is now supporting an agenda in which Catalan alone is presented as the national language, the language of convergence, while Castilian, despite its long historical presence in the region, is portrayed as one of three hundred languages spoken there today. We examine how this policy interacts with everyday linguistic realities and with a preservationist agenda. Catalan speakers are divided between those who feel liberated from the imposition of Spanish identity and culture and those who fear an exclusivist nationalism which they feel would be anachronistic in the globalized world of today. Spanish speakers, in turn, feel threatened and targeted. New immigrants, coming from all corners of the world, are caught in a climate in which official language policies hardly reflect their own needs. Linguistic policies have to be re-thought to tend to the needs of immigrants while also ensuring the survival of Catalan.
Keywords: language policy, bilingualism, Catalan, globalization, Spanish, migration, linguistic attitudes, language contact, minority languages, language shift, education
Published online: 27 April 2009
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