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Review of  Multilingualism in Spain

Reviewer: Silvia Rodriguez
Book Title: Multilingualism in Spain
Book Author: Sorry, No Book Author Data Available!
Publisher: Multilingual Matters
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Issue Number: 12.1066

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M. Teresa Turell, ed. (2001) Multilingualism in Spain: Sociolinguistic
and psycholinguistic aspects of linguistic minority groups. Clevedon, UK:
Multilingual Matters Ltd., hardback, xv, 389 pp., Multilingual Matters

Silvia Rodriguez, College of Charleston.


This book contains a collection of articles on linguistic diversity in
Spain. It describes Spain's multilingual make-up including the larger
established communities such as Catalan, Basque, and Galician, but also
smaller established communities, and new migrant communities. It is
well-organized and very readable.

Multilingualism in Spain presents the topics from an interdisciplinary
approach. The editor and the contributors come from different fields of
study such as Applied Linguistics, Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology, and

The book is organized as follows:

Chapter 1 written by M. Teresa Turell, the editor, is a clear introduction
of the book and it gives background of the sociolinguistic and
psycholinguistic aspects of established and new migrant minority groups
within the context of Spain and the European community. It also examines
the methodology employed to investigate each community, explains the role
of education, introduces language contact phenomena, explores migration
patterns, and explains discrimination and racism in Spain.

After the introductory chapter, the book is divided into four parts:

Part I looks at the larger established minority groups such as the
Catalan-speaking communities (Chapter 2, Miquel Angel Pradilla); the
Basque-speaking communities (Chapter 3, Jasone Cenoz and Josu Perales);
and the Galician speech community (Chapter 3, Carme Hermida).

The Catalan-speaking communities chapter presents the geographical and
regional distribution of the Catalan varieties, and a brief history of the
Catalan language. This chapter also addresses some sociolinguistic
characteristics of Catalan such as the role of institutional support in
Catalonia and education. It also describes language behavior and use
patterns such as loans words, codeswitching, and syntactic and semantic
calques from Spanish and vice versa.

The Basque-speaking communities chapter presents the geographical location
of Basque, an overview of the language today, its history, and the fact
that it is a unique language in Western Europe because of being non
Indoeuropean. It also addresses the distribution and use of the language,
the high numbers of bilinguals, the three different models of language
schools depending on the native language of the child, and examples of
codeswitching and borrowings.

The Galician speech community chapter starts with a description of Galicia
and its peoples, its geographic location, and its history. It is followed
by an overview of the current situation of Galician in today's society
including its distribution and use. The chapter also examines the role of
Galician in education and language contact phenomena such as interference
between Galician and Spanish.

Part II explores the smaller established minorities such as the Occitan
speech community of the Aran Valley (Chapter 5, Jordi Suils and Angel
Huguet); the Asturian speech community (Chapter 6, Roberto
Gonzalez-Quevedo); and the sign language communities (Chapter 7, Rosa

The chapter about the Occitan speech community of the Aran Valley starts
with the geographic location, linguistic traits, and legislation about
language planning of Aranese. It also examines the language in contact
with Spanish, Catalan, and French, the interference between Catalan and
Spanish, as well as the importance of Aranese as an identity language. In
addition, it explores the role of education and the three models of

The Asturian speech community chapter describes the complex diglossic
situation in Asturias where Asturian is the minority status language. It
also explores the role of education, the pro-Asturian movement, the
creation of a written literature, and bilingualism and language contact
patterns in Asturias.

The sign language communities chapter addresses the history of sign
language in Spain, its status today, its characteristics, and domains. It
also explores the controversy about the education of deaf children, and the
difficulties and challenges in everyday life including the lack of
sensitivity and understanding by mainstream society. The chapter finishes
with a description of patterns of language use and behavior.

Part III examines the other established minorities such as the Gitano
communities (Chapter 8, Angel Marzo and M. Teresa Turell); and the Jewish
communities (Chapter 9, Barbara Vigil).

The chapter dealing with the Gitano communities starts with a historical
and linguistic overview followed by historical, social, and cultural
background about their situation in Spain. It also describes the
sociodemographic profile of present-day Spanish gitanos and their
sociolinguistic patterns of language use and language contact with Spanish.
There is also a description of the main features of Calo, the language of
the Gitanos, and the problems with education that this minority suffers.

The Jewish communities chapter gives an overview of the historical and
linguistic background including the different Jewish populations and
languages related to Judaism. It also addresses the history of the Jewish
community in Spain and its social organizations and institutional support.
The chapter finishes with an examination of language use patterns by the
Ashkenazim and the Sephardim communities, and within the Israeli community
in Spain. These patterns include codeswitching of lexical items denoting
modern Spanish life, and the fact that they favor the languages of the
communities where they have settled.

Part IV deals with the new migrant minorities such as the Brazilian
community (Chapter 10, M. Teresa Turell and Neiva Lavratti); the Cape
Verdean community (Chapter 11, Lorenzo Lopez Trigal); the Chinese community
(Chapter 12, Joaquin Beltran and Cresen Garcia); the Italian community
(Chapter 13, Rosa M. Torrens); the Maghrebi communities (Chapter 14, Belen
Gari); the Portuguese community (Chapter 15, Lorenzo Lopez Trigal); the UK
community (Chapter 16, M. Teresa Turell and Cristina Corcoll); and the US
American speech community (Chapter 17, M. Teresa Turell and Cristina

The Brazilian community chapter describes Brazilian migration, settlement
and integration patterns, as well as its rich social organization in Spain.
It examines the domains of language use and codeswitching practices such as
Espanogues and Portuhnol which are seen as varieties of a continuum from
Portuguese to Spanish.

The Cape Verdean community chapter starts by giving an overview of the
nature and distribution of the Cape Verdean community in Spain. It
continues with a description of its migration patterns, its cultural and
linguistic background where two languages coexist, Portuguese and Kriolu,
and the examination of the difficult process of integration because of
cultural differences and discrimination.

The chapter about the Chinese community explores the diversity of origins
of the so-called Chinese community, migration patterns, work, and
geographical distribution. It also examines the complex and varied language
situation in China, the role of education, and Chinese culture. It
explores the isolation from mainstream Spanish society and the fact that
everyday life is Chinese for the members of this community. They only
learn Spanish for practical reasons and they maintain a strong Chinese
identity. Unlike the situation with other migrant groups, there are no
interferences between Chinese and Spanish since they keep both languages

The Italian community chapter describes the nature and geographic
distribution of this group in Spain such as the changing nature of its
migration patterns, the high level of integration, and the difficulty when
in Catalonia to distinguish between Spanish and Catalan. It also examines
language use and language contact patterns such as quoting in Spanish when
speaking Italian.

The Maghrebi communities chapter describes the nature and distribution of
the Maghrebi communities, their languages and culture, the role of sexist
education in their culture, the complex linguistic situation in their
countries of origin where French, Arabic, and Berber coexist. It explores
the different language domains such as the family, the cultural center,
work, the mosque, friendships, education, and institutions. The chapter
also explains the different language learning strategies they use.

The Portuguese community chapter starts with a description of the
Portuguese migration patterns to Spain and the characteristics of this
community. It also describes the level of integration, and the
institutional support in the form of various programs in the language and
culture of Portugal in Spain.

The UK community chapter describes the three profiles of the UK immigrant
in Spain, one young and adventurous, one professional, and one retired. It
also addresses their attitudes towards Spanish and its culture, and their
British social life. The first two groups may use up to three languages
(English, Spanish, and any of the other three community languages), while
the last one uses mostly English. The chapter finishes with examples of
language contact phenomena among these speakers.

The chapter about the US American speech community describes the nature and
distribution of this open community including their motivation for
migrating to Spain, and their social profiles such as young people looking
for adventure, middle-aged professionals, and Army personnel. The
middle-aged group often settles in Spain and forms a family there. The
chapter continues with a description of the attitudes towards Spanish and
the culture, the role of education, their social life, and their patterns
of language behavior, language contact patterns, and domains of language


This book is an important contribution to the literature about linguistic
diversity in Spain and multilingualism in general. It includes linguistic
communities such as the sign language community and the Maghrebi
communities, which are not usually included in books examining the
linguistic make-up of Spain. It also introduces non-Spanish-speaking
audiences to the topic.

The division of the book into four sections emphasizes the different types
of communities, not only the languages. However, in the case of the
Brazilian, Cape Verdean, and the Portuguese communities, all speakers of
Portuguese, or the UK and US communities, all speakers of English, it would
be interesting to know how they interact and what patterns they have in

The discussion and description is not only linguistic in nature but there
is also an excellent relationship between anthropology, psychology,
history, culture, society, economics, and geography. This approach makes
this book a true interdisciplinary work trying to offer a picture of a
complex phenomenon such as multilingualism, its origins, causes, patterns,
and reasons.

Each chapter includes background information about each linguistic group
such as the history, geography, culture, linguistic characteristics and
status, and migration and settlement patterns. Each chapter also describes
the role that the minority language has in education, language planning
policies, language behavior and use, manifestations of language contact
phenomena such as borrowing, codeswitching and calques, and language
attitudes. In addition, there are plenty of maps, tables, informant data,
references and appendices at the end of each chapter.

Another point worth mentioning involves the presentation of data.
Especially useful are the informant data which enable the reader to have
rich examples of language behavior and language contact phenomena but also
a global picture of these communities and not only the languages.

Because it is clearly written in a language accessible to a wide
readership, it can be used as a textbook in a Spanish Sociolinguistics
course or in a Bilingualism and Languages in Contact course. In addition,
because of the panoramic informative descriptions of the linguistic
communities, the illustrative data, and the extensive references for
further reading, it can also be a great reference for language planners,
researchers and educators.

In conclusion, Multilingualism in Spain is an excellent book where the
reader will gain a basic knowledge of the complex linguistic picture of
Spain and its linguistic communities. Readers will also gain an idea of
where to look for more detailed information on these communities, and they
will learn something about language contact phenomena.


Silvia Rodriguez is an Assistant Professor of Spanish at the College of
Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina. Her research interests include
interlanguage and cross cultural pragmatics, bilingualism and
multilingualism issues in Spain, and foreign language curriculum and

Silvia Rodr�guez, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Spanish
Department of Hispanic Studies
College of Charleston
66 George Street
Charleston, SC 29424-0001


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