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(Université Sorbonne Nouvelle ? Paris III; Queen Mary, University of London)
The contemporary sociolinguistic situation in Barcelona is characterised by extensive language contact between Catalan and Castilian (Spanish), as well as by recent developments in language policy and planning which favour the use of Catalan in many official domains. By and large, the relevant literature chooses to focus on one or the other of these characteristics. However, my current research examines both policy and contact in equal measure in order to offer an accurate portrayal of the sociolinguistic reality for bilingual Catalan-Castilian language users in Barcelona.
One of the aims of my research is to see whether policy and contact exert rival pressures on a given sociolinguistic situation, i.e. do they result in linguistic phenomena that are in some way in competition? This is to be tested using an innovative model, in which sociolinguistic phenomena will be categorised along three bifurcating axes, based on existing literature. I will show that language policy and language contact occupy the two maximally distinct extremes of the model, and shall be deemed to be key components of what will be termed top-down phenomena and bottom-up phenomena respectively.
Studying a linguistic community characterised by two maximally distinct phenomena (such as policy and contact in Barcelona) should prove a good testing ground for the model. When these two phenomena co-exist, what are the consequences for the model? Using data from recent fieldwork in Barcelona, I will show how this model of sociolinguistic phenomena can be applied to a real-life situation. This may help researchers gain a clearer insight into the complexities which characterise a situation such as Barcelona.
Cornwallis North West,
The University of Kent,