Tackling Language Problems via Language Planning and Language Policy? Viability and Challenges using the Example of Catalonia

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2019

23 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Definitions of Language Policy and Language Planning
2.1 Language Policy
2.2 Language Planning

3. Different Branches of Language Policy and Language Planning
3.1 Corpus Planning
3.2 Status Planning
3.3 Acquisition Planning
3.4 Usage Planning
3.5 Prestige Planning
3.6 Discourse Planning

4. Reasons for Language Policy and Language Planning

5. Goals of Language Policy and Language Planning

6. Language Policy and Language Planning: How is it implemented?
6.1 Corpus Planning in Catalonia
6.2 Status Planning in Catalonia
6.3 Acquisition Planning in Catalonia

7. Criticism

8. Problems and Results

9. Discussion

10. Conclusion

11. Bibliography

1. Introduction

Language Planning and Language Policy (LPLP) is an established process to manage and regulate the relationships and functions of languages within one national territory and saving endangered languages that becomes more and more important in a globalized community. Due to economic developments, the migration that goes along with, cultural exchange and other recent developments, indigenous languages are more endangered than ever before. According to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues of the United Nations Economic and Social Council

[...] estimates suggest that more than half of the world's languages will become extinct by 2100 [...]. At present, 96 per cent of the world's approximately 6,700 languages are spoken by only 3 per cent of the world's population (Source: United Nations 2016)

Saving indigenous languages and managing and regulating their function within society is of utmost importance, since indigenous languages

[...] are not only methods of communication but also extensive and complex systems of knowledge that have developed over millenniums. They are central to the identity of indigenous peoples, the preservation of their cultures, worldviews and visions and an expression of self-determination. Indigenous languages are critical markers of the cultural health of indigenous peoples. When indigenous languages are under threat, so too are indigenous peoples themselves (United Nations 2016)

Having this in mind it is safe to say that saving indigenous languages and solving associated language problems is one of the main challenges globalization and the development of modern societies pose for social oriented linguistics. LPLP is one of the possible solutions to this problem. However, although LPLP is an established process it does pose certain problems in its implementation and may lead to cultural segregation. There are examples of successful implementations of LPLP, such as Canada's handling of the language problems concerning the use of French in Quebec. There facilitating the framework for the coexistence of both French and English in Canada has helped to mitigate the language problems. Even in Canada the process is not without issues though. However, LPLP helped to overcome the violent conflicts of the past and has ultimately led to the Québécois nation motion in 2006 that recognized "[...] that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada” (Source: 39th Parliament). There are still considerable discussions over the status of Quebec and the exact meaning of this symbolic act, however the separatist movement has lost a lot of support from their high in the 1990s (MacDonald 2002: 321-322). As a counterexample to the achievements in Quebec serves the situation in Catalonia where LPLP has not yet achieved a solution for the looming language problems that have haunted Spain for a long time. Catalonia and central Spain seem more estranged from each other than ever and the tensions between the different factions have even led to diplomatic backlashes in the European Union. The separatist movement is broadly supported in Catalonia even though the central Spanish government threatens its spearheads legally (Source: El Pais).

Consequently, language seems to have a crucial meaning and status to people, regions and countries. Evidently, language has a huge impact on, even if this sounds solemnly, the question of peace and war. Therefore, the subsequent question has to be: How did /does it come to peace or war in regards of languages? How can peace be achieved and established and war prevented? In a first step the concepts of Language Policy and Language Planning (LPLP) will be defined in order to understand its implications and the reasons and goals which Language Policy and Language Planning aim to achieve. Then a look at the different branches of Language Policy and Language Planning, such as corpus, status and acquisition planning, will be taken before the different methods of implementation will be presented and the connected challenges and criticism before we can reach a conclusion on the viability of LPLP as a tool for tackling language problems and what has to be considered in a possible implementation scenario. To exemplify these theories, I will examine how they stand the test of reality by looking at the situation of language problem in Catalonia.

2. Definitions of Language Policy and Language Planning

The following paragraph deals with definitions of Language Policy and Language Planning. The short overview over this broad linguistic field should be the basis for the subsequent thematically examined topic.

2.1 Language Policy

Language Policy in general is the determination of how languages in a certain nation or country are used. It is a set of rules and provisions established by the respective governments or official administrations in order to set guidelines or rules for the structural use and the acquisition of language, which can be either specified in official documents explicitly, or implicitly understood by society (Tollefson 1991: 16). As Ager states it, “Language Policy is used in the sense of explicitly stated motives for and goals of action on language as opposed to customary laissez-faire practice” (Coulmas 2013: 205). On the surface, Language Policy “describes the underlying political and sociolinguistic goals that are implied in the activities and measures of language planners” (Deumert in Mesthrie 2001: 644). It is a theoretical field that “refers to the more general linguistic, political and social goals underlying the actual language planning process” (Mesthrie et al. 2000: 384). Hence, Language Policy is a governmental field, where decisions are made through legislation in order to either save, protect and maintain certain languages, endangered regional, indigenous or ethnic languages for example, or to implement an official language, all of which are viable goals in regards to the topic at hand.

2.2 Language Planning

The term Language Planning was mentioned for the first time by the American linguist Einar Haugen in the late 1950s. Following Haugen, Language Planning “refers to all conscious efforts that aim at changing the linguistic behavior of a speech community” and can include anything “from proposing a new word to a new language” (Haugen 1987: 627). This means that Language Planning refers to the process, through which a beforehand elaborated Language Policy is implemented. This in turn implies that Language Policy and Language Planning cannot be seen separately, but these two concepts are closely linked. To summarize these two concepts in short, one could say that Language Planning is the process of decision- making and alteration, while Language Policy is establishing the rules and goals to implement Language Planning. Language Planning takes place on a governmental level, for example by official governmental planning agencies or Language Planning can be conducted by leaders of countries in order to change societal use of language by denying language rights or regulating by laws (Antia 2000: 3).

This denial of basic language rights, for instance, happened during the Franco era in Spain to (among others) the Catalan language. The aims of Francisco Franco's repressive politics was the expulsion of Catalan language and culture which he deemed responsible for separative movements. Catalan was banned from the streets by removing street signs and replacing them with Castilian ones. Street and place names were Hispanicized. Books, newspapers or other printed media were being destroyed and libraries were being closed. Moreover, in official documents the Catalan citizens names were being changed into Castilian (Source: Uni Frankfurt). Franco's dictatorship

was so extreme that even ordinary conversational use of the language among ordinary folk could prove to be dangerous, if overheard[...]All public use of Catalan was prohibited; Catalan names and toponyms were banned and replaced by Spanish counterparts; Catalan publications, street signs and advertisements or notices were not only discontinued but any disobedience with respect to these prohibitions was punishable (and punished!) by fine, dismissal, arrest and the closing of offending publications, institutions or agencies (Fishman, 1991, p. 297)

Teachers that taught Catalan at school were dismissed and teachers for Castilian were brought to Catalonia in order to teach Castilian Spanish. Thereby many Catalan people grew up and lived in a society where using the actual mother tongue, the language of their ancestors, the traditional language of Catalonia was strictly prohibited (Source: Uni Frankfurt). This restriction means a strong incision to the freedom of the use of language. Such restrictions are part of the reasons for languages to die.

After the recovery from the fascist regime and the return of democratic structures a Language Policy was introduced that was meant to revitalize the Catalan language and to strengthen and support the use of it. In 1978 a Royal Decree permits the people to speak and use Catalan and legitimizes it as an official language of Catalonia (Münch 2006: 25). Until then Castilian was the only official language and Catalan was only rarely used due to the restrictions made by the regulative regime (Vallverdu 1995: 61). The implementation of a Language Policy aimed at the recovery of Catalan. Propellent for the recovery and important factors were the cultural identity and the longing for a political change. The desideratum of the Catalan people to live out their cultural identity and the freedom and the official permission to do so led to a language and cultural revival (Münch 2006: 23). A drawback for this was that after many years of oppression and hence not using the language officially only few people were capable of speaking Catalan fluently. Especially the writing severely suffered from the long enduring time of oppression due to the Catalans being out of practice.

Furthermore, Catalan is not only reintroduced in private domains and for everyday use and societal purpose but now also is used in political discourse (Münch 2006: 24). This additionally had a strong symbolic meaning for the Catalan people as the language now also is used in political discourse. Politicians now use Catalan officially. The reason for that, besides revitalizing the language, is also to gain more votes in order to have the majority for their parties (Münch 2006: 24-25). Thus, the freedom of using the traditional language which also functions as a facet of cultural identification strengthens the Catalan identity which recently was revealed by the strong efforts to gain independence by significant parts of the Catalan people in 2017/18 (Source: BBC).

3. Different Branches of Language Policy and Language Planning

In the research field of Language Planning different branches can be recognized. The probably two most-known and most regarded branches are corpus planning and status planning. These two different types, “the social and linguistic aspects of language, are bound together and must be pursued in close coordination” (Coulmas 2013, 215).

Corpus planning deals with norm selection and codification, as in the writing of grammars and the standardization of spelling; status planning deals with initial choice of language, including attitudes toward alternative languages and the political implications of various choices (Bright, 1992, p. 311)

Additionally, Acquisition Planning will also be presented in this term paper as it plays an important role for Language Planning on an educational scale. Alongside these three branches Usage Planning, Prestige Planning and Discourse Planning will be presented in short. Afterwards, an explanation of how the three branches of Corpus, Status and Acquisition Planning can be applied to the Catalan language will be presented.

3.1 Corpus Planning

Corpus Planning is the field in which the structure of a language is affected. Constituent parts of Corpus Planning are various approaches like “standardization, by the development of terminology and vocabulary, graphization, purification, internationalization and modernization” (Mesthrie 2011: 359). The goal of Corpus Planning is the development of a language or a variation of a language and usually is undertaken by language experts (Ferguson 2006: 17). Through standardization, regularization and codification a certain language is said to be defined and thereby differentiated from other languages. Corpus Planning can also help to overcome communicative inefficiencies. Another goal of Corpus Planning are political aims in terms of modification to the lexis and discourse patterns of language - for example for reasons of political correctness (Lo Bianco 2004: 4). It is also used “by elites and counterelites as a tool for the acquisition and maintenance of power” (Cooper 1989: 155). The results that develop from Corpus Planning, and referring to and underlining this quote from Coulmas, involve dictionaries, grammars, pronunciation and writing style guides and literacy manuals - so, the outcome of Corpus Planning is manifold and can be described as the development of prescriptive ‘tools'. The field of Corpus Planning reaches wide and happens also on the lowest level which means that every single aspect that is open to the individual language choice can be an object of corpus planning. That refers to the everyday language that is spoken by every person. Another political reason for corpus planning is making a particular language or variety of language an official language or national language (Coulmas 2013: 205).

Here, the distinction between official languages and national languages is inevitable. The information on official and national languages is taken from the Cambridge Dictionary. A country's official language is the language of the government and has the state's official recognition. It is taught in schools and is used for official purposes like in the courts. It is patronized by a nation's administration and is used widely. A national language, on the other hand, is the one mostly spoken by the majority of the society. It reflects the national identity of a country and can also be recognized as official as such. Thus, a national language is in most cases an official language, but it does not necessarily work out vice versa (Source: Cambridge Dictionary). A quote from Daoust taken from and according to Grimes and Leclerc's works underlines this: “Today, although there are some 185 recorded languages within Europe's 40 states, only 35 of these have official status” (Daoust 1998, 4).


Excerpt out of 23 pages


Tackling Language Problems via Language Planning and Language Policy? Viability and Challenges using the Example of Catalonia
University of Cologne  (Englisches Seminar I)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
LPLP, Language Policy, Language Planning, Linguistics, Catalonia, English Studies, Anglistik, Language Problems
Quote paper
Daniel Jung (Author), 2019, Tackling Language Problems via Language Planning and Language Policy? Viability and Challenges using the Example of Catalonia, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/509681


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