Overwhelming enthusiasts and nagging onlookers. 50 years of German researchers studying Catalan

Thematic Section: Biases in research: Who counts as ‘authentic’ bilingual speaker – and how can we tell?

monolingual bias, research practice, bi-/multilingualism research, language ideology, self-reflexivity

Konstanze Jungbluth, European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder)

Obviously it makes a difference to study Catalan as an important minority language in the early 1970s when during Franco’s time its use was driven out of the public domain. «Up to this point, it had been spoken primarily, although not exclusively, by those who had acquired it throuh intergenerational transmission, i.e. by native speakers.» (Pujolar/Puigdevall 2015, 168). Fortunately, times changed dramatically: the efforts taken by the uprising Catalan Generalitat, the regional government, priviledged linguistics to become an important discipline of reference for the implementation of revitalisation policies (Strubell/Boix-Fuster 2011). Today new speakers of Catalan are dominant in the younger generation (age 16 to 35) and many of them pretend to transmit Catalan to their children.
Indeed, the way of Catalonia to become a «medium-sized language communit[y]» (Boix-Fuster/Paradís 2019) where the percentage of immigrant population is enormous (Pradilla i Cardona et al. 2013), may be regarded as a success story. The collaboration between German and Catalan linguists did not start from scratch in the 1980s. However, taking part in a success story became more and more attractive for linguists (Jungbluth/Nogue 2020; Jungbluth 1996; Jungbluth 1984; Schlieben-Lange 1973; 1985; Neu-Altenheimer .1992)
In my talk I want to sketch the different stances taken by German linguists during this trajectory of roughly two generations. Did our enthusiasm for the minority language speakers representing linguistic diversity of Europe silence our data or part of it? Did it help to encourage migrants to learn Catalan as we did? How to deal with the implications for our research rooted in our own monolingual or at best bilingual dialect-standard language acquisition experience? We had little or no contact with societies using naturally multilingual repertoires. Involvement is inevitably part of research. Which lessons can we learn from the biases determining our research? Boix-Fuster, Emili/Paradís, Anna. 2019. New Speakers’ Ideologies and Trajectories in Bilingual Families in Catalonia. In: Emili Boix-Fuster, Albert Bastardas-Boada, Rosa Maria Torrens (edd.), Family Multilingualism in Medium-Sized Language Communities, Bern/Berlin: Peter Lang, 193-223. Jungbluth, Konstanze. 1996. Die Tradition der Familienbücher. Das Katalanische während der Decadència, Tübingen: Niemeyer. Jungbluth, Konstanze/Nogue, Neus. 2020, Tractaments, salutacions i noms: el canvi en les pràctiques socials i l’ús de les formes de tractament en català. In Christoph Gabriel; Andrea Pešková, Maria Selig (edd.), Contact, variation and change in Romance and beyond, Berlin: Erich Schmid. Neu-Altenheimer, Irmela. 1992. Sprach- und Nationalbewußtsein in Katalonien während der Renaixença ; (1833 – 1891), Barcelona: Inst. d’Estudis Catalans. Pradilla i Cardona, Miquel Àngel et al. 2013. Report on the situation of the Catalan language http://blogs.iec.cat/ cruscat/publicacions/informe Pujolar, Joan/Puigdevall, Maite. 2015. Linguistic mudes. How to become a new speaker in Catalonia. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 231, 167-187. Schlieben-Lange, Brigitte. 1973. Okzitanisch und Katalanisch. Ein Beitrag zur Soziolinguistik zweier romanischer Sprachen. Okzitanische und katalanische Verbprobleme, Tübingen: Spangenberg. Schlieben-Lange, Brigitte. 1985. Wie kann man eine Geschichte der (Minderheiten-)Sprachen schreiben? : Ueberlegungen zu 'Decadence' und 'Renaissance' des Okzitanischen und des Katalanischen. In: Epochenschwellen und Epochenstrukturen im Diskurs der Literatur- und Sprachhistorie, 324-340. Strubell, Miquel / Boix-Fuster, Emili. 2011. Democratic Policies for Language Revitalisation: the Case of Catalan, Basingstoke: Palgrave.