Latin American Migrants in Bilingual Cities: A Comparison Between Barcelona and Brussels

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 9:15 AM
Room: Booth 62
Oral Presentation
Luis GARZÓN GUILLÉN , Sociology, Universitat Autonòma Barcelona, Spain
This paper analyzes comparatively the language use of Latin American migrants in two bilingual cities: Barcelona (Spain) and Brussels (Belgium). Both cities share some similarities but also have some differences. Bilingualism in Barcelona is based on two coofical languages Spanish and Catalan. While Spanish is the official language for all Spain, Catalan it is only the official language in Catalonia (the region). Latin American migrants from most countries (with the notable exception of Brazl) are already Spanish speakers and thefore have little incentives to learn Catalan. However, nationalistic policies in Catalonia and Barcelona encourage use of Catalan and give preference to those who can speak Catalan in the labour market. On the other hand, Brussels is the capital city of a country strongly divided amongst linguistic lines. In Belgium only Brussels is bilingual while the regions of Wallonie (French) and Flanders (Dutch) are monolingual. Migration policies depend on municipality, meaning that in Flemish speaking municipalities Dutch prevails while French is dominant in the French speaking. Latin American migrants in Brussels, native speakers of Spanish or Portuguese (brazilians) do not speak any of the two as mother tongue and have to learn. Choice of language learnt is related to area of settlement and social networks. The paper concludes with a reflection on the features of Latin Americans and the likely outcome of the migrant integration in the two cities.