LINGUIST List 14.3186

Thu Nov 20 2003

Disc: Introducci�n a la ling��stica hisp�nica

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  1. Celso Alvarez C�ccamo, Galizan and _Introducci�n a la ling��stica hisp�nica_

Message 1: Galizan and _Introducci�n a la ling��stica hisp�nica_

Date: Sun, 16 Nov 2003 00:51:32 +0100
From: Celso Alvarez C�ccamo <>
Subject: Galizan and _Introducci�n a la ling��stica hisp�nica_

In Linguist 14.2779, Gabriel Rei-Doval reviews: Hualde, Jos� Ignacio,
Antxon Olarrea and Anna Mar�a Escobar (2001) Introducci�n a la
ling��stica hisp�nica, Cambridge University Press.

Regarding the authors' characterization of Galizan (Galician) as a
Portuguese variety, Rei-Doval says:

>Regarding its status, the book argues that ''Galician is a linguistic
>variety closely related to Portuguese, to that extent that specialists
>consider Galician as a variety or dialect of the Portuguese language.
>However, in Galicia there is a debate as to whether Galician is a
>variety of the Portuguese language or a separate language. Obviously,
>emotive criteria as well as purely linguistic criteria are at play in
>this evaluation''. According to this view, it would seem that there
>are only linguists defending the notion that Galician is a dialect of
>Portuguese and that those who have a different opinion are only local
>enthusiasts, nationalists or Galician patriots. On the contrary, most
>of the Galician Philology and Linguistics, and many romance
>philologists and linguists both inside and outside Spain support the
>opposite view.

Rei-Doval's conclusion about the relations of nationalism or
patriotism to language identification does not follow from the
authors' words. The authors assert that, in the social and academic
debate in Galiza, "emotive criteria" are also at play "in this
evaluation" about the status of Galizan, that is, within both
positions or social fields. Undoubtedly, language is an "emotional"
issue. But sharp emotions also arise from political positions. And in
fact, contrary to Rei-Doval's suggestion that it is only Galizan
nationalists who defend language separateness, a large segment of
Galizan nationalism and independentism defends Galizan-Portuguese
linguistic unity, while many Spanish nationalists defend the
separateness of Galizan vis a vis Portuguese.

As for "specialists", the truth is that, fortunately, no censuses have
been taken among "Galician Philology and Linguistics" specialists and
scholars (including, of course, those who are not affiliated with any
of the three universities) so that we might uncontroversially assert
how "most" of them view the issue. I will try to offer some data:

In the universities, the administrative area of knowledge that gathers
Galizan specialists is called "Galizan and Portuguese Philologies"
("Filologias Galega e Portuguesa"). After the split of the old major
in Galizan-Portuguese Philology into two majors, Galizan Philology and
Portuguese Philology, only the University of Santiago de Compostela
now offers both specializations, while Vigo and Corunha only offer
Galizan Philology. But this fact, per se, tells us little about how
the more numerous specialists focusing on Galizan studies view the
status of Galizan within Ibero-Romance. Nowadays, autonomous
institutions support the separateness of Galizan, but that, again, is
a contigent political fact. Further, much of linguistic and
sociolinguistic work on Galizan is done by scholars administratively
adscribed to other areas of knowlege, such as General Linguistics,
Romance Linguistics, and Spanish Language. These are, too, language

In my experience of twelve years in the Galizan academic world, I
think the consensus view among these and other scholars is that, if
the same strictly structural criteria that are applied to the
delimitation of large linguistic constructs such as "Spanish" or
"English" are applied to the varieties within the old Western
Ibero-Romance block, then Galizan belongs to this system (which, as it
happens, is conventionally known as "the Portuguese language").
Differences in the academic and social fields arise as to whether it
is (relative) unity or (relative) divergence what should be emphasized
for language standardization and identity-based social language
awareness. Nevertheless, neither position is sufficient in itself to
guarantee the reversal of accelerated language loss in Galiza.

In short, several views on what "language" is or should be are at play
in Galiza's language debate. Clearly, it is a complex issue, one that
touches directly on the cultural, political and historical
relationships between two Iberian states --Spain and Portugal--
representing the "heart and soul" of the two most widely used Romance
languages, as well as on underlying class interests in the promotion
of a given theory of linguistic "facts" and in its popularization.
Since scientific research and knowledge are mediated by the political
(rather, they are political in nature), even the most strict
characterization of the structural distances between Portugal, Brasil,
and Galiza Portuguese varieties cannot be politically neutral either.

On the issue, I recommend:

Herrero Valeiro, M�rio J. 2000. _Glotopol�tica y genealog�a del poder:
El proceso de institucionalizaci�n del _gallego_ desde la perspectiva
de una (macro)pol�tica de la lengua_. Ph.D. Dissertation. Departamento
de Galego-Portugu�s, Franc�s e Lingu�stica, Universidade da
Corunha.(Author's email:

Celso Alvarez C�ccamo
Lingu�stica Geral, Fac. de Filologia
Universidade da Corunha
15071 A Corunha, Galiza (Espanha)
Tel. +34 981 167000 ext. 1888
FAX +34 981 167151
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