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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Identities of 'La Penya': Voices and struggles of young working-class people in Barcelona Add Dissertation
Author: Joan Pujolar Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Lancaster University, BA programmes in Language and Linguistics
Completed in: 1995
Linguistic Subfield(s): Sociolinguistics;
Subject Language(s): Catalan-Valencian-Balear
Director(s): Mari Jones

Abstract: My study is based on an ethnography of two groups of young people from working-class neighbourhoods in Barcelona. I was interested in researching the impact of Catalan language policies on the identities of young people of Spanish-speaking immigrant families. I sought to go beyond the constraints of traditional structuralist approaches in Sociolinguistics in order to make my analysis relevant to people working for gender equality, the promotion of the Catalan language, or other social causes. I combine ideas from Bakhtin, Bourdieu, Fairclough, Foucault and Goffman to build a dialectical, historical, process-centred perspective that conceptualises practices in terms of social and political struggles.

I analyse young people's peer-group activities in terms of their significance for the construction of gender identities. I propose a variety of forms of masculinity and femininity according to the various ways in which members organised their gender displays in face-to-face interaction.

I also show how their use of argot and dialectal Spanish was part of the processes whereby members defined their relationships, constructed particular subject positions in interaction and struggled to legitimate their own values.

I explore the meanings constructed through Catalan and Spanish by looking into the code-switching practices of my participants. I analysed their talk in terms of narratives that present particular sequential dramatisations of events for conversational audiences. These narratives follow the expressive intention of the author, and are populated with multiple voices of animated characters. I argue that, in the groups I studied, Catalan was generally not used to animate the voices that were central to the identities of the peer-group, and particularly to masculine identities.

In order to contextualise these practices within the wider society, I also look into the processes of language choice in face-to-face encounters. I argue that existing conventions made it difficult for people to find opportunities to speak Catalan. I also pointed to the difficulties that my participants had to find employment, which were particularly acute amongst the more politically aware individuals. I conclude that these young working-class people had little possibilities of investing in more egalitarian forms of identity given their lack of resources and opportunities to develop their identities in other social spaces, such as the workplace.