By Sari Pietikäinen, Alexandra Jaffe, Helen Kelly-Holmes, Nik Coupland
Sociolinguistics from the Periphery "presents a fascinating book about change: shifting political, economic and cultural conditions; ephemeral, sometimes even seasonal, multilingualism; and altered imaginaries for minority and indigenous languages and their users"
Turell, M. Teresa, ed. (2001) Multilingualism in Spain, Multilingual Matters Ltd., hardback, xv+389 pp.
Reviewed by Margaret Simmons, Nagano University.
The book describes multilingualism in Spain through an introductory chapter and sixteen articles each of which addresses the sociolinguistic situation of a particular community present in Spain. After the introduction the book is divided into four parts (described below). Notes and references are found at the end of each chapter. There is no index.
In chapter one, Spain's multilingual make-up, Turell explains the background of the book as the final product of a project which began in 1993 called Sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic aspects of linguistic minority groups in Spain (SPALIMG), and she outlines the approach to understanding and analyzing language contact. The groups are classified as larger established minorities (Catalan, Basque and Galician speech communities), smaller established minorities (Occitan, Asturian and Sign Language communities), other established communities (Gitano and Jewish communities) and new migrant minorities (Brazilian, Cape Verdean, Chinese, Italian, Maghrebi, Portuguese, UK and US American speech communities).
The situation of each group is addressed in terms of three main aspects: language, migration and discrimination. The sociolinguistic aspect includes education, patterns of language use, learning and communication strategies and code change processes. Migration considers migration and settlement patterns, and demographic, social and attitudinal aspects of the migratory process. Discrimination regards institutional support in light of both European and Spanish policy and legislation. The sociolinguistic research method is explained.
Part 1: The Larger Established Minorities. Chapter 2, The Catalan-speaking communities, by Miquel Angel Pradilla, addresses the situation of Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic and Pitius Islands. A brief history of the Catalan language, Catalan language proficiency of the population in Catalan, statistics regarding knowledge of Catalan, its institutional support and use in education in each of the areas and some examples of code-switching between Spanish and Catalan are given. A map and several data tables are included. The area of Catalonia shows the most activity and progress in recuperating the regional language compared with the other areas, and the reasons are discussed. Indications of passive vs. active bilingualism are also mentioned.
Chapter 3, The Basque-speaking communities, contributed by Jasone Cenoz and Josu Perales, presents data from several different sources. Bilingualism, domains, changes in proficiency, Basque language requirements for civil servants, educational models for use of Basque and Spanish (or Basque and French)and examples of code switching and borrowing are addressed. The chapter includes a map, tables concerning domains and other information as well as numerous graphics.
Chapter 4, The Galician speech community by Carme Hermida, gives a rather extensive description and history of Galician from the 9th to 20th century, including social and institutional uses, political support literature, linguistic scholarly work and social attitudes. The present variations, their distributions and language contact factors are described. Present proficiency and uses are presented with data from several sources. There is a short section addressing language shift, code switching and interference. A desire for prestige is considered a motivation for speaking Spanish rather than Galician. The conclusion is not optimistic about the future of the language due to the desire for prestige, lack of effective activity on the part of the local administration and lack of pro-Galician consciousness and participation in normalization of the language on the part of large sectors of the population. There is a comparative description of phonetic, morphological and syntactic structures in Galician, Spanish and Portuguese in Appendix 1 and two additional texts showing contact language interference in Appendix 2.
Part 2: The Smaller Established Minorities. Chapter 5, The Occitan speech community of the Aran Valley, contributed by Jordi Suils and Angel Huguet, gives a well rounded overview of the language contact situation in the Aran Valley situated in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and the province of Lleida (Lerida) in northern Catalonia. Significant historical events which have contributed to the rather independent status of the Aran Valley are summarized. Characteristic features of Aranese as a Gascon variety of Occitan, Occitan features and the presence of non-consonantal plural markers as a feature of noun morphology are illustrated; verb morphology is not shown but references are given. Legislation for normalization of Aranese does require the language to be used in schools. Data regarding proficiency is given. Language contact with French and varieties of Catalan and Spanish are discussed as well as changes from the traditional economy based on sheep to the present economy largely based on tourism. Language attitudes and identity, interlocutor based code switching, code switching to accommodate non-Aranese speakers and some examples of language contact elements in speech are given. Models for incorporating the necessary languages into the school system are covered and also recent initiatives in defense of Aranese. The contact situation for Aranese is a trilingual (or perhaps quadrilingual) one in a small population of about 3000 speakers. Though Aranese has survived for centuries and there is present consciousness and maintenance efforts, other languages are important for most young speakers who do not see their future limited to the Aran valley. A map and graphics are included.
Chapter 6, The Asturian speech community, is written by Roberto Gonzales-Quevedo. The historical background explains that Asturian Romance documents were found up to the 16th century but from then on was gradually replaced by Spanish with a few exceptions but did have a known presence as an active language in Spain until the turn of the 20th century when the upper class abandoned the local language. However, since 1974, initiatives to revitalize Asturian, also called Bable, have been developing. Factors of the lower prestige of Bable, contact language mixing, a variety of bilingual abilities and diglossia with Spanish create an interesting and problematic situation for recuperation efforts. Language awareness related to pro-Asturian movements ranges from almost no awareness on the part of traditional speakers to militant attitudes for pure linguistic forms and using Bable for serious literature as well as organizing other initiatives. Though language contact effects can be seen in both directions, there is more influence from Spanish on Bable. Finally, brief sociolinguistic profiles of four different speakers, representing different attitudes, are given.
Chapter 7, The Sign Language Community, contributed by Rosa Vallverdu, gives a brief history of sign language in Spain, noting that it has been used since the 16th century for teaching the deaf and mute to speak and write, but was abandoned at the end of the 18th century by an association of teachers in favor of insisting on oral language use. However, sign language survived because the deaf themselves maintained it. Characteristics of sign language and how signs may be created are explained, including a graphic of nine productive hand signs in Catalan Sign Language (but I could not find the meanings of the illustrated signs in the article). The article explains associations, education and mass media for deaf persons in a fair amount of detail. The comments from consultants presented indicate that sign language allows much more intellectual development of concepts; oral language is also important, especially for communicating with the non-deaf, but only oral training seems to result in the appearance of speech but not necessarily sophisticated understanding of spoken language. As an associated result of lack of effective education, deaf persons have often not pursued secondary or university level education and frequently have jobs with low skill requirements. Some of the associations are making appeals for recognition of sign language as a language and to make changes in education, services and media which allow deaf persons to participate more fully. There are several appendices including a list of deaf associations in Spain and two manifestos.
Part 3: The Other Established Minorities. Chapter 8, entitled The Gitano communities by Angel Marzo and M. Teresa Turell, gives a brief history of gypsy migrations from India through Europe and their arrival and presence in Spain. Social organization and cultural strategies are discussed, and profiles of types of modern day Spanish Gitanos are outlined. Spanish Gitanos are somewhat more settled compared to some other countries in Europe and have adopted the language of their host country whereas gypsy groups who continue with a more nomadic lifestyle have better maintenance of their language. Some features of Calo, the language of the Spanish Gitanos, are described. Language contact has had influence in both directions, and Calo uses some archaisms from Spanish. School is a relatively new element in Gitano culture; some Gitanos do attend school, but there is a high drop out rate and issues concerning cultural identity as well as the marginal status of Gitanos in the larger society.
Chapter 9, the Jewish communities, contributed by Barbara Vigil, gives background information on languages used by the Jewish community in general and a history of the Sepharadic Jews in Spain from Phoenician times until the expulsion subsequent to the edict of 1492 and the return during the 19th and 20th centuries. Social institutions and associations are described. There is a short section regarding Jaketia, a discussion of language contact between Hebrew and Spanish in the Israeli community in Spain and some examples of intrasentential lexical code switching.
Part 4: The New Migrant Minorities. Chapter 10 by M. Teresa Turell and Neiva Lavratti is entitled The Brazilian Community. This group tends to be fairly young and fairly well educated and members are located in various areas in Spain but especially in Madrid and Catalonia. There are a range of attitudes toward Spanish culture and language: some groups which are not very positive towards the host culture and think that Portuguese is adequate for managing communication and others who are more interested in remaining in Spain for a long time. Contact between Spanish and Portuguese has resulted in two intermediary types of bilingual speech modes: Portunhol and Espanolgues, and there is a short description of each of these regarding phonology, morphology and syntax.
Chapter 11, by Lorenzo Lopez Trigal, is entitled The Cape Verdean Community. In this community, Portuguese and a Creole called Kriolu, are involved. Additionally, each of the Cape Verdean Islands has its own local variation of Kriolu. Many members of this community are earning money and sending it to their families in the country of origin. Overall there is not a great deal of integration, yet in some areas, such as mining areas, there is more than in large cities. There is only one linguistic example of a song, but there are several short biographic profiles of individuals.
Chapter 12, The Chinese Community, is written by Joaquin Beltran and Crescen Garcia. Although this group has established a community in the host country, there is relatively little integration. The Chinese have established businesses and for the most part seem to have economic goals so that host country language learning is largely for utilitarian purposes rather than integration. Chinese is maintained. Associated with preference for their own culture and also perhaps with structural differences between Chinese and Spanish, there is little language contact phenomenon. The chapter does not include specific examples of language use, but rather elaborates details of immigration, community structure and attitudes towards the cultures and languages of their own and the host country. Tables of social information are included.
Chapter 13, The Italian community, contributed by Rosa M. Torrens, describes this group as a kind of elitist immigrants who have decided to reside in Spain for personal rather than economic reasons. The historical presence of Italians in Spain is not elaborated. The sociolinguistic description is based on a sample of eleven consultants. The multilingual situation of the Italian community often involves standard Italian, a regional language of Italy, Spanish and one of the other official languages in Spain. Numerous examples of language use are given.
Chapter 14, by Belen Gari, The Maghrebi communities concerns mainly Islamic Africans. Language use involves French, Arabic and Berber, and cultural lifestyles are often in contrast to values and models offered by Spanish schools. Domains for the numerous languages are described. There is a short description of Arabic and also of features found in the language of speakers who are acquiring Spanish. Tables concerning the distribution of these communities in Spain are included.
Chapter 15, The Portuguese community by Loreno Lopez Trigal, describes the recent immigration situation and social characteristics of the community. Integration is described as positive for some subgroups but not all. The chapter comments briefly on language use, but does not include linguistic examples. Tables with data regarding immigration and residence in Spain are given.
Chapter 16, The UK community, is written by M. Teresa Turell and Cristina Corcoll. The profile of this English speaking community includes older persons who retire in Spain and younger people seeking personal experience or immigrating for professional reasons. The chapter describes demographic and social characteristics of the community, attitudes, language behaviors and uses and language contact phenomena. Charts and tables are included.
Chapter 17, also by Turell and Corcoll, concerns The US American community. They describe the social profile of the community, patterns of language behavior and domains for English, Spanish and other languages involved. There are examples of code switching, borrowing and calques. Charts, tables and graphics are included.
After reading the first chapter, I had the impression that the articles would be rather uniform in their structure and data sources; however, there is quite a variation in the way that each chapter treats the particular community it concerns and data comes from many different sources. Some chapters are more developed than others, especially those articles concerning the indigenous languages as compared to groups whose presence in Spain is more recent. Some articles are more sociocultural while others are more sociolinguistic. This does not detract from the effectiveness of the book and each chapter address the elements of language, migration and discrimination.
The collection of articles shows the influences of both the indigenous and immigrant groups. Language maintenance and shift concerns are especially important with the indigenous and long term minority groups. Attitudes towards and acquisition of the languages of Spain are a common theme in the chapters addressing the newer immigrant groups.
The inclusion of historical information of each group's language(s) in the home country as well as in Spain is especially important in illustrating how involved language and culture contact is. Most of the groups have come from a multilingual situation in the home country with a previous history of language contact and bring that history with them to Spain which is also a multilingual environment. Many of the articles include brief profiles of several members of the particular minority group and these often provide additional details that illustrate various aspect of cultures as well as languages in contact.
Language contact phenomena is addressed in terms of each language impacting on the other, not only concerning the effect of Spanish on the minority languages.
It is very significant that the sign language community is included in this volume and that this group is treated as a community with a language as well as a culture.
The book presents an extensive overview of multilingualism in Spain, including both macro level and micro level perspectives and is an impressive collection of articles accessible to a range of readers interested in sociolinguistics, multilingualism, migration and minority communities as well as Spain and Spanish culture. For researchers working on specific languages in Spain or sociolinguistic situations concerning languages in other areas, this collection offers contextual background. And the book contributes to the understanding of international society from a sociolinguistic point of view.
Margaret Simmons is Associate Professor of English at Nagano University in Japan. Her research focuses on language maintenance and shift, especially that of Catalan and Spanish, and other minority language issues.