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Jornadas Ibéricas: Ideologies and Identities in Iberian Languages

The second event on Iberian Languages, to be held at Freie Universität Berlin from July 11 to 12, 2024. This is a joint event organized by the Freie Universität Berlin, Institut Ramon Llull, the Xunta de Galicia and the Etxepare Euskal Institutua. The general aim of the conference is to discuss the social reality of Iberian multilingualism. The language of the conference is English.

The Miraculous Resurrection of a Doomed. A Brief Contemporary History of the Basque Language.

Ludger Mees

When? 11.07, 15:00-16:00

Where? L116

After his two visits to the Basque region in 1799 and 1801, and after several years dedicated to the study of the Basque language, writing about the Basques, Wilhelm von Humboldt predicted, not without a touch of melancholy “nearly with certainty the decay of their nationality and their language within a short time”.

More than two centuries later, history has proven him wrong. The Basque language, Euskara, is now fluently spoken by more than a third of the society in the Basque Autonomous Region; moreover, it has its own television and radio stations, it is the teaching language within most of the school system and it is the language of choice for many PhD thesis defended at Basque Universities.

This is an astonishing and extraordinary resurrection, almost unparalleled in the world. The talk aims to shed light on the main drivers that triggered and fueled this process throughout history, as well as on the obstacles and political errors that tended to jeopardize the recovery of the Basque language. In this context, Basque nationalism deserves special attention due to its contradictory impact on the language. Although, beginning at the late 19th century, nationalism was the first powerful political actor with remarkable efforts to restore the prestige of Euskara, a language considered by many as poor, outdated and only useful for peasants, the subordination of language to race in the nationalist discourse gave Euskara an excluding partisan flavor. Hence, for a long time many non-nationalist Basques were pushed to consider Euskara as a nationalist issue instead of embracing it as their own and folding it into their everyday lives.

The standardization of Galician from the speakers' perspective: linguistic ideologies and social identities

Henrique Monteagudo

When? 11.07, 16:15-17:15

Where? L116

Until 1980, Galician was a minority language, excluded from the educational system, the public sphere and the media, and lacking normative standards, although in the previous decades an oral and written koine had developed, used by a minority of activists. Since 1981, with the approval of the Statute of Autonomy of Galicia and the establishment of a government, a parliament and other autonomous institutions, Galician has been recognized as a co-official language in Galicia and linguistic policies have been implemented to promote its use in the educational system, public administrations, cultural activities and the media. At the same time, the codification of the linguistic norm and the cultivation and dissemination of a standard variety of the language have been further advanced.

This process has led to a reconfiguration of the linguistic-communicative space of Galicia, of the competences, practices and attitudes of the speakers, which has led to the emergence of new social identities and linguistic ideologies. In my text, I address this issue by drawing on two recent research projects, one on the linguistic attitudes of Galician youth, carried out under my direction by the Sociolinguistics Seminar of the Royal Galician Academy, and another, of whose research team I am a member, on the perceptions of speakers of different language varieties and the standard language variety in Galicia, the Basque Country, Catalonia and Castilian-speaking Spain.

Parlar bleda in the Balearic Islands: Contact-induced change or a matter of sounding less peripheral?

Maria del Mar Vanrell

When? 11.07, 17:15-18:15

Where? L116

In recent decades, the Balearic Islands have witnessed a significant increase in immigrant diversity, primarily fueled by the job opportunities afforded by mass tourism. While the labor market initially attracted mostly Spanish-speakers from various regions of Spain during the first tourism boom, recent years have seen the arrival of immigrants from more diverse locations. Since the 1970s, the population of the islands has nearly tripled, with immigration playing a pivotal role. While in 1970 the non-native-born population comprised 18% of the total, by 2014 this figure had increased to 41.25% (EULIB2014). This change has also affected the proportion of the population born in Catalan-speaking households, which has declined over the same period from 82% to 58%. Seasonal tourism on a mass scale is a permanent feature of life in the Balearics, with over 16 million visiting the islands in 2022 from all around the world. The complex linguistic situation resulting from this special combination of factors—a phenomenon that has been labelled superdiversity (Vertovec 2007)—has had profound linguistic and social consequences which are still underexplored.

In the talk I will examine one of the linguistic consequences of this superdiversity in the Balearic Islands, an informal variety of spoken Catalan known locally as parlar bleda. This language variety, or set of varieties, apparently emerging from a process of structural leveling between Catalan and Spanish, was initially used by urban youth in Mallorca (Bibiloni 2015, 2023). However, several of its features currently also seem to be present in Menorca (Pons-Borràs 2016) and Eivissa (according to my observations). While various studies have attempted to describe the defining features of parlar bleda, its socio-indexical significance remains poorly understood. Through this presentation, I aim to challenge the notion that insular spaces represent conservatism, backwardness, or stagnation, and instead, demonstrate that the islands’ geographic isolation has by no means limited their exposure to social and linguistic diversity, and as a result the variety of Catalan spoken there, far from being stagnant, is in fact characterized by dynamic change.


Linguistic authority and speakerness in contemporary Barcelona: the changing terrain of youth language ideologies

Avel·lí Flors-Mas

When? 12.07, 09:30-10:30

Where? 0.2051

Catalonia and its capital city, Barcelona, are interesting sites for the exploration of the language ideologies and practices of the youth, as the position of Catalan in this context is quite singular among other linguistic minorities in Europe. In Catalonia, Catalan is at once a minoritized language and a language with high prestige and a strong institutional support, due to the long-term implementation of a language policy agenda promoting the use of Catalan in different settings (Woolard 2016). Particularly, establishing a single model of schooling in Catalan for all the school population has been instrumental to remove the ethnolinguistic and social class barriers that limited access to Catalan in the 1980s, and to facilitate the appropriation of the language among non-native speakers, as argued by Woolard (2016: 211–256) and other researchers (Flors-Mas 2017; Pujolar & Gonzàlez 2013; Trenchs-Parera & Newman 2015). However, their analyses reflect only partially the current situation, as they rely on data gathered around 2010, not covering recent changes brought by large-scale immigration, the increased impacts of globalization, technological transformations, and political tensions around the 2017 self-determination referendum (cf. Bradley 2020; Byrne et al. 2022).

This talk aims to move forward the debate on youth language practices and identities in contemporary Barcelona through the analytical lens of the ideologies of linguistic authority (Woolard 2016) and the notions of subjectivity and speakerness (Pujolar & O’Rourke 2019). Comparing data generated in focus groups in 2011 and 2022 in the Barcelona Metropolitan Area, I will address the issue of who can be considered a legitimate speaker of Catalan, what is the relationship between L1 and linguistic authority, and what (if any) changes can be observed a decade after. Results show that the re-framing of Catalan as a public, anonymous language in youth discourses may be more restricted than previously argued in literature. The implications of the results for language policies aiming to enhance speakers’ agency and their ability to access a socially legitimated Catalan-speaking identity will be discussed.

What Insights Can Pre-Service Teachers' Attitudes and Language Learning Experiences Offer in the Basque Country?

Mikel Gartziarena

When? 12.07, 10:30-11:30

Where? 0.2051

In recent academic discourse, there has been a notable increase of research dedicated to investigating the beliefs and attitudes of educators, their potential implications for their instructional roles and the ability to mold their multilingual identity (Lundberg, 2019; Orcasitas-Vicandi & Perales-Fernández-de-Gamboa, 2022; Vikøy & Haukås, 2021). This study diverges from conventional approaches by adopting a unique perspective, focusing on multilingualism through the prism of pre-service teachers as language learners in the South of the Basque Country. The education setting integrates the teaching and learning of Basque (minoritized language), Spanish (lingua franca), English (first foreign language and international language), and French (the second foreign language) within the curriculum.

This investigation seeks to depict how multilingual pre-service teachers conceptualize their identities, both as current multilingual individuals and as future multilingual educators. Concurrently, the research delves into the intricate relationship between learners' previous language learning experiences and the emotional components, specially scrutinizing the emotional and cognitive conflicts that may manifest in future language acquisition processes. The study employs a mixed methods approach, combining an online questionnaire centered on attitudes about multilingualism, the use and learning of the beforementioned curricular languages, with the collection of language biographies (N = 76). The aim of this methodological approach intends to provide a more comprehensive understanding of pre-service teachers' language attitudes and their historical language learning trajectories. The findings underscore the pivotal role played by pre-service teachers' prior experiences and emotional responses in either facilitating or impeding language acquisition and usage. Moreover, the research sheds light on the enduring impact of desired or undesired emotions stemming from past events, highlighting their intricate nature and the ability to mold future language learning processes and subsequent language use.

Sociolinguistics in the south of the Basque country: a linguistic and educational perspective

Artzai Gaspar

When? 12.07, 11:30-12:30

Where? 0.2051

The sociolinguistic situation in the southern Basque Country is complex. In this region, two languages coexist: Basque (a regional minority language) and Spanish (the majority language). Additionally, English is widely studied as a foreign language in education, resulting in a significant portion of the population having some knowledge of it. Legally, the sociolinguistic status of Basque is not uniform across the whole territory. Currently, there is a state of diglossia between the minority and majority languages, which is reflected on the proficiency levels and use of each language, as well as in societal attitudes and ideologies towards them (Gartziarena & Villabona, 2022). Education plays a crucial role in the teaching, preservation, and normalization of the minority language (Cenoz, 2009). In recent decades, numerous institutional and extra-institutional initiatives have been launched to promote the learning and normalization of Basque in society. These initiatives include awareness-raising activities, campaigns to encourage its use and sociolinguistic plans.

The main objective of this presentation is to offer an overview on the sociolinguistic and historical situation of the southern region of the Basque Country in recent decades, particularly concerning the knowledge, use, and social value of the minority language, as well as its diglossic situation. To do so, updated sociolinguistic data and information will be provided. Secondly, the presentation will examine the status of Basque in education, offering a general overview of educational models in history, pedagogical approaches, and the main challenges for the future. Finally, to complement this historical and current sociolinguistic overview, the presentation will highlight the most significant recent sociolinguistic initiatives aimed at promoting the minority language, with special focus on education and institutional language policies.