Building Social Cohesion in a Plurilingual Setting? a Longitudinal View to the Sociolinguistic Evolution of Adolescents in Catalonia

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:30
Location: Hörsaal 24 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
F.Xavier VILA, University of Barcelona, Spain
Vanessa BRETXA, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
Josep UBALDE BUENAFUENTE, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Spain
Adolescence is a crucial period in the development of individuals, the phase in which family-dependent children reconstruct their personalities, also in linguistic terms, in their transition towards young adulthood. Sociolinguistic changes during this period of life are salient in monolingual societies, where teenagers have often been reported to lead language change (Tagliamonte and D’Arcy 2009), but they are more remarkable in multilingual societies, where adolescents are identified as key agents of language shift (e.g., Cenoz 2008, DEPLC & SK 2014, Pauwels 2005, Veltman 1983).

In our  presentation we will discuss the main results of a longitudinal, pure panel research that followed a sample of more than 1,000 schoolchildren from a variety of localities in Catalonia, a highly plurilingual social environment with a significant percentages of alloglot recent immigration. Questionnaires were administered to informants several times since the end of their primary education to the end of their compulsory education, in order to follow their individual and collective sociolinguistic evolution in respect to three bundles of sociolinguistic variables: language practices (LP) in a variety of domains (home, friends and classmates, school, and entertainment), language confidence (LC), and language attitudes (LA) towards Catalan and Castilian.

 Results show that, whereas deep transformations can be detected in some of the variables analysed, especially LP, other —especially LC— remain much more stable in the course of the years. L1 reveals as a powerful predictor of LP, LC and LA, but in very different magnitudes. The position of adolescents vis-a-vis the different L1 is also very different, and a distinction appears between the two highly regarded official languages, and the non-official languages, which show clear signs of language shift. Finally, in spite of increased exposure to English, this language seems to be only relevant in some specific domains closely connected with the consumption of imported entertainment.