Language change among Catalan young people
- Catalan Youth Observatory Barcelona, Spain
Catalonia is a complex multilingual society, traditionally divided into Catalan and Spanish speakers who constantly negotiate their position. In the last decade the arrival of an important number of foreign population (up to 25% of young people in Catalonia are born outside Spain) has changed the linguistic framework and adds complexity to this situation. Young people are especially sensitive with regard to linguistic issues, as it is during the youth phase when people define their identities and their social position. It is considered that the different transitions that form the youth phase (studying, working, leaving home and family formation) are key moments in the shaping of language use decisions.
The paper presents the main results of a specific statistical exploitation on language issues of the Catalan Youth Survey from 2007. Firstly, it is described the linguistic distribution of Catalan young people (characterized by a polarized equilibrium) and its evolution since 2002 (increase in the number of bilingual youngsters). Secondly, the paper focuses in the changes in the linguistic choice according to the context (family, friends, school, work, unknown people): passing from one?s origin family to a wider social context implies an increase of the use of the second language. Also, the more formal is the context the most speakers Catalan language gains. Thirdly, it is offered data on ?linguistic mobility?, i.e., the percentage of young people that have Catalan language as their family (of origin) language and have changed into Spanish as their usual language, and the opposite way. Results show a clearly different ?change rate? (that benefits Catalan language) and a strong influence of the ?linguistic environment? (the percentage of each language speakers in each territory) in the probability of linguistic mobility to happen.