Language use survey

While nationalist politicians continue to exaggerate hugely the number of Catalan speakers (think: lobbying, EU official languages), the new Idescat figures (Idescat is the notoriously unreliable Catalan government stats bureau) on social use suggest that the vast sums spent by the Catalan government over the past couple of decades on persuading and forcing people to hop from one Latin dialect have actually been resulting in the conversion of some 18% of native Spanish speakers into predominantly Catalan-speaking or bilingual bunnies:

language catalan spanish both other
first 2,213,100 2,929,100 152,000 177,000
“own” 2,670,100 2,424,700 283,200 93,300
habitual 2,742,600 2,410,300 255,100 62,600
habitual less first 529,500 -518,800 103,100 -114,400

I find them slightly bizarre for a couple of reasons:

  1. The numbers given were presumably extrapolated by Idescat up from the 7,267 sample. If you add up each row you’ll notice that Idescat is positing a different total population for the region on each occasion.
  2. For me the salient statistic is that the various measures taken seem to have been successful in destroying the allegiance of almost half the speakers from small language communities (the other column) to their mother tongue (177,000 => 93,300). I’m curious how that fits in with the theme of Forum 2004 (Barcelona, capital of cultural diversity). This is what language activists would (correctly) call cultural genocide were it to be happening to Catalan. Or is social engineering like imperialism: it’s only bad when the Americans do it?

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  1. Don’t be rediculous. With the due respect, it is not posible to teach someone in the Berber language because there are no books and it is not a usefull language to know in Europe

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