Catalonia covers an area of 31km in the extreme north-east of the Iberian Peninsula. It has four mountains ranges, of which the Pyrenees are the largest. It has a population of 6 059(1991), accounting for 15.5% of Spain's total population. Demographic distribution is very unequal: the areas around Barcelona have a high density (over 1100 inhabitants per km), especially the metropolitan area of Barcelona (16inhabitants per km).
Catalonia's population has grown throughout the 20th century following successive waves of migration from other regions of Spain, chiefly in the 1920s and between 1940 and 1970 (between 1961 and 1970 alone, there was net immigration of 720 people). Consequently, people born outside Catalonia and their children currently account for 41% of the total population. The population is chiefly urban since in 1991 over 3 500people lived in towns of over 50inhabitants, whereas only 6% lived in villages of less than 2000 inhabitants. Barcelona (1 681inhabitants), Hospitalet de Llobregat (273 000), Badalona (218 000), Sabadell (189 000) and Terrassa (157 000) are the most densely populated towns.
Catalonia's economy is typical of an industrial society. In 1990 agriculture provided work for only 4% of the active population, whereas the industrial sector employed 34% of the total, construction 9%, and the service sector (in which tourism has an important place) accounted for 53% of the total. The four Catalan provinces have a GDP which is higher than the national mean.
From the point of view of language demography, data from the 1991 census show that 5 577people aged over two understand Catalan (94% of the total), 4 065can speak it (68%), 4 019can read it (68%) and 2 376can write it (40%). Proficiency in Catalan is closely linked to cultural origins. In places where the number of people born outside Catalonia is very low, the percentage of people who say that they can speak Catalan is almost 100%. Even in regions inhabited chiefly by people born outside Catalonia, however, proficiency is always above 60% (except in the one case of Baix Llobregat, where it is slightly lower).
Proficiency has increased rapidly since 1975. Comprehension increased from 81% in 1981 to 94% in 1991, spoken ability from 64% (1986) to 68% (1991), reading ability from 61% to 68% and writing ability from 32% to 40%. Levels of language proficiency are, moreover, highest among young people aged between 10 and 19. According to a recent study, 74% of adults can speak Catalan, 65% can read it and 41% can write it. Catalan is the main language of 50% of those surveyed, whereas Spanish is the main language of 49%. Some 10% of the people who can currently speak Catalan spoke Spanish as their habitual language in infancy, but have subsequently adopted Catalan as their language of habitual use. Most Catalan speakers use the language in all daily situations. According to another source, 54% of adults use Catalan at home, 11% use Catalan and Spanish and 34% use Spanish.
Catalonia's history began around the year 800 AD with the conquest by Charlemagne of the southern Pyrenean area which had been occupied by the Saracens. The oldest text written entirely in Catalan is a fragment of a translation of the Forum iudicum (c. 1131), a Visigoth legal code. From its original area on both sides of the Pyrenees, Catalan extended South, following conquests by the Crown of Catalonia and Aragon. The Country of Valencia (1232-45) and the islands of Majorca and Ibiza (1229-35) came under the name Catalunya Nova (1148-53). The island of Menorca (1287) and the town of Alghero in Sardinia which was repopulated by Catalans in 1372 and is still Catalan- speaking today subsequently became part of the Catalan kingdom. Sicily, Naples, Corsica and even Athens - which was a Duchy under the influence of the Crown of Catalonia and Aragon for almost 70 years - were conquered by the Catalans. Barcelona then became the major commercial port of the western Mediterranean and established trading posts in most towns in northern Africa and the Middle East. The first code of maritime law, "El Llibre del Consolat del Mar", written in Barcelona, laid the foundations for trade between all the Mediterranean countries.
The Kingdom of Catalonia and Aragon was an embryonic constitutional monarchy from the 12th century. Sovereigns had to swear allegiance to the Usatges i Constitucions de Catalunya (Customs and Constitutions of Catalonia) which placed some limits on their powers. The Corts (made up, in equal proportions, of the Church, the trading nobility and craftsmen) were set up as bodies exerting some control over the actions of sovereigns. The Generalitat de Catalunya was created during the 14th century and operated as an executive body between sittings of the Corts. Throughout the Middle Ages, Catalan was the normal language of the subjects of the King of Aragon in the Principality of Catalonia and the Kingdoms of Majorca and Valencia. In 1469, Ferdinand of Aragon married Isabel of Castile and their two kingdoms were united. From then on, the history of Catalonia was linked to the history of Spain. When the Crowns of Aragon and Castile were united (1516), the Catalan language started to decline to some extent as a vehicle for literary output, although it continued to enjoy the status of official language up to the end of the Habsbourg dynasty.
Following the Spanish War of Succession (1705-1715), Philip V of the Bourbon dynasty occupied Barcelona (1714), abolished all the government institutions still in existence in Catalonia and applied Castilian laws. Spanish became the sole official language of public administration, even though its use was far from widespread among the population. The introduction of Spanish into the fields of commerce, public education and notarial practice then confined Catalan to oral communication and popular literature. Nevertheless, the period known as the Renaixença (Renaissance) began shortly after this. From an economic point of view, Catalonia rapidly became part of the process of European industrialisation. The Catalan language was revived as a medium for literary and scientific culture.
Conflicts of interest between the Catalan middle classes and the traditional ruling classes from the remainder of Spain gave birth to the Catalan political movement, whose aim was to introduce the language issue into its claims for independence. The Catalan middle classes began to control the provincial councils and, as a result of the Mancomunitat, a campaign for the technical and administrative modernisation of Catalonia and the promotion of the Catalan language was set in motion and led in 1907 to the Institut d'Estudis Catalans (IEC) which carried out works to codify Catalan (publication of authoritative spelling standards, dictionaries and a grammar between 1913 and 1918).
The Mancomunitat was abolished under the dictatorship of General Primo de Rivera (1923-1930). The proclamation of the Second Republic (1931), however, enabled Catalan to recover the status of official language that it had lost in the 18th century. The Generalitat de Catalunya was re-established with considerable powers. The Spanish Civil War (1936-39) and the victory of General Franco brought independence to an end and was followed by harsh repression. Francoism (1939-1975) ended the process of language standardisation that the Generalitat had undertaken from the point of view of the official and public use of Catalan and its introduction into education, the mass media, the publishing world, etc.
Once democracy had been re-established, Catalonian nationality was constitutionally recognised and the Generalitat was re-established by Royal Decree (1977) making it possible to revive the public use of Catalan; language standardisation had started. This process provoked some dissension, as a result of which the cultural and civil associations of Catalonia founded the Crida a la Solidaritat en Defensa de la Llengua, la Nació i la Cultura Catalanes, an organisation which was very active during the 1980s but ceased to exist in 1993. Subsequent controversies (on the quality of the spoken language, the language model of the media, school immersion programmes) failed to have a real impact on Catalan society and its compromise with language standardisation.
Following the demand from the Parliaments of the Balearic Islands (1987) and Catalonia (1988) for Catalan to be recognised as an official language of the institutions of the European Community, the European Parliament approved, on 11 December 1990, the "Resolution on the situation of languages in the Community and on the Catalan language". It was proposed to the Council and the Commission that the treaties and basic texts of the Community should be published in Catalan, that information on European institutions aimed at citizens should be made available in Catalan, that Catalan should be included in the Commission's language learning programmes, and that Catalan should be used in dealings with the public in the Commission's Offices in the Autonomous Communities concerned. Since 1986 the Commission has provided some help in promoting Catalan in Catalonia.
The Spanish Constitution of 1978 made Spanish the official language of the State and stipulated that all Spanish citizens should know it and be entitled to use it, that the other languages of Spain should also have official status in the various Autonomous Communities in accordance with their autonomous statutes, and that the wealth of the various languages of Spain is a cultural heritage worthy of particular protection and respect.
In addition to other State regulations which include provisions on language in, for instance, the educational, administrative and social fields, Catalonia has its own legislation. The Autonomous Statute of Catalonia (1979) states that "the language of Catalonia shall be Catalan, that the Catalan language shall be the official language of Catalonia alongside Spanish which is the official language of the Spanish State, that the Generalitat shall guarantee the normal and official use of both languages, shall adopt measures to ensure their knowledge and shall create conditions under which they can achieve full equality as regards the rights and duties of citizens of Catalonia, and that the language of the Val d'Aran shall be taught and shall receive particular protection and respect".
Law 7/1983 on Language Standardisation in Catalonia was passed unanimously in the Catalan Parliament and steps up the process of consolidation of the Catalan language, in particular in education, the public administration and the media. In 1993, the Conseller de Cultura announced the government's wish to update it in the medium term.
In order to carry out the tasks set out in this law, the Generalitat established (1980) a body responsible for coordinating the various measures undertaken: the General Directorate for Language Policy. Through joint work with the Consell Social de la Llengua Catalana (1991), this body drew up an initial General Plan for Language Policy with two main objectives: the habitual use of Catalonia's own language by public and private institutions for all public aspects of their activities, under conditions in which it is not subordinate, and the full respect of the language rights of every citizen of Catalonia as regards the development of all public, professional, social or leisure activities, since the public authorities must protect the exercise of these rights without violating the collective right of the language community to use the area's own language.
Under the State's language policy, the award of official status to other languages has been rather slow and timid. Apart from some concrete exceptions (tax return form or some institutional campaigns), the general impression is that State institutions are still lagging behind as regards the habitual use of other languages. Some judgments given by the Constitutional Court have strengthened the status of Catalan, in particular the judgement authorising the Catalan government to require candidates to have a knowledge of Catalan during selection tests for public office.
Since 1979, the Generalitat has had full powers over education, and the Law on Language Standardisation in Catalonia (1983) states that Catalan is the language of education at all levels of education, that children are entitled to receive primary education in their language of habitual use, whether this is Catalan or Spanish, that it is compulsory to teach both languages at all levels of non-university education, and that all children in Catalonia should be able to use Catalan and Spanish normally and correctly by the end of primary education. Pupils cannot be placed in different school institutions on the basis of their mother tongue and the Catalan language is to be progressively used as pupils become proficient in it.
The law states that teachers must know both official languages and that teacher training curricula must ensure that students acquire sufficient mastery of Catalan and Spanish. In higher education institutions, teachers and students are entitled to express themselves in any situation, orally or in writing, in the official language of their choice.
The Generalitat, which in 1978 created a Servei d'Ensenyament de Catalá, has followed a policy in keeping with the spirit of the law and has promoted the Catalanisation of schools (although this depends ultimately on the decision of the School Council of each educational establishment).
In pre-primary education, 87% of pupils were taught mainly in Catalan (1992-93). As regards the breakdown of pupils of classes with an adequate percentage of Spanish-speaking pupils to be able to apply immersion programmes, 82% of the pupils of public-sector schools and 53% of private schools attended these programmes. Catalan is the main teaching language in most primary schools and is a compulsory subject in all schools. In the 1992-1993 academic year, 69% of pupils were taught mainly in Catalan. Almost all other pupils were taught partly in Catalan.
In secondary education, Catalan is the main teaching language for 73% of pupils in public-sector schools and 74% of pupils in private schools. It is a compulsory subject in all schools. The use of Catalan has increased substantially in recent years along with the range of textbooks in Catalan for each age group and subject.
In technical education, Catalan is the main teaching language for 31% of pupils. Almost all other pupils were taught partly in Catalan. All pupils take Catalan as a subject.
In higher education, 83% of the students of the Universitat de Barcelona and 93% of the students of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona could speak Catalan in 1991-1992. At the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, the percentage for the previous year was 68%. Over the last three years, increasing use has been made of Catalan for university entrance tests (from 52% in 1990-91 to 59% in 1992-93).
51% of lecturers at the UB teach all their classes in Catalan, 60% of lecturers at the UPC teach always or predominantly in Catalan; at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, 68% of subjects are taught in Catalan and at the UAB 67% of lecturers teach their courses always or predominantly in Catalan. Most ERASMUS students (except for some students of Roman philology) arriving in Catalonia are not proficient enough in Catalan to be able to attend classes in Catalan, causing them some problems of adaptation.
The number of university textbooks in Catalan is, however, very limited. Most of the books used are in Spanish or in English depending on the subject involved.
Adult education is an important aspect of education in Catalonia and is the responsibility of the Generalitat de Catalunya. Catalan and Spanish teaching is a compulsory part of adult continuing training programmes.
The Consorci per a la Normalització Lingüistica, established in 1988, coordinates measures to promote the knowledge and use of Catalan throughout the area. It is assisted by the Generalitat and over 100 local corporations. It offers permanent services for the population as a whole: Catalan teaching for adults, language consultation and assistance and activities to promote the social use of Catalan. In 1991-92, the Consorci ran 1274 Catalan classes for 25students.
The Junta Permanent de Catalá, answerable to the Direcció General de Politica Lingüistica, devises and organises examinations for the award of general certificates of proficiency in Catalan (at four levels) and specific certificates of proficiency. The number of candidates registering for the various examinations increased from 10 372 in 1991 to36 621 in 1994.
The culture and history of Catalonia, as well as the history of the language, are taught at all levels of compulsory education.
Teacher training is the responsibility of the Escoles Universitàries de Formació del Professorat (teacher training colleges), in which Catalan is the habitual language of teaching.
School inspection, which is the responsibility of the government of the Generalitat de Catalunya, monitors the Catalan language situation in primary and secondary schools.
Catalan is taught in 110 universities throughout the world, 57 of which receive assistance from the Generalitat de Catalunya. In 1993-94, the Generalitat promoted the creation or consolidation of 40 lecturing posts and 17 lectorships, including 2 in Great Britain, 18 in Germany, 6 in France and 9 in the other EU Member States. There are also several international associations: Anglo-Catalan Society, Associació Internacional de Llengua i Literatura Catalanes, Associazione Italiana di Studi Catalani, North American Catalan Society, Deutsche-Katalanische Gesellschaft. The Generalitat, co-founder of the Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE), has devised an International Certificate in Catalan for foreign students. For teaching/learning of Catalan as a foreign language there are ten methods in Catalan (including the multimedia course Digui, digui...), 13 methods in other languages and 7 supplementary books or methods.
The popular movement, which began in the 1960s following action by Catalan movements demanding a return to Catalan at school, has now faded away following the gradual re-introduction of Catalan into all schools. Ómnium Cultural, a private cultural organisation responsible for Catalan classes during the final years of the Franco regime up to 1978, continues to assist teachers. Several Escoles d'Estiu (summer refresher training schools) are organised every year, the best known of which has been running for over 20 years.
The legal status of Catalan in the courts of Catalonia is set out in Organic Law 6/1985 on Judicial Powers, which allows its use, and by the Language Standardisation Law of 1983 which states that citizens may use the official language of their choice in their dealings with the legal authorities without needing to supply a translation and that documents in Catalan submitted before courts and judges sitting in Catalonia, and judicial reports drawn up in Catalan, are fully valid and admissible.
In general, Catalan is still in a minority position, with the exception of some courts outside Barcelona. 44% of informal or private dealings between judicial authority staff or between these authorities and citizens take place in Catalan. In formal oral contexts, the use of Catalan decreases to 15% and only 5% of oral hearings are held in Catalan. Catalan is used for only 7% of the various written documents (whether internal or addressed to citizens).
If all the parties understand Catalan and so agree, counsel may use Catalan. If not, defence and prosecution counsel must use Spanish. In general, oral interpreting is carried out free of charge by court officers. Legal briefs and witness statements, whether written or oral, in Catalan are often rejected by the judicial authorities, even though there is a free translation service for legal documents.
The fact that the number of Catalan-speaking judges is fairly small and that judges stay in Catalonia only temporarily and do not therefore have much motivation to invest time in learning Catalan goes some way towards explaining this situation.
The Language Standardisation Law states that Catalan is the specific language of the Catalan government and local authorities, and that citizens may use the official language of their choice in their dealings with the authorities. The Catalan government has enacted many decrees leading to the almost complete Catalanisation of personnel attached to the Generalitat, as well as the documents produced by its various departments. Official documents are published in both Catalan and Spanish. The Parliament of Catalonia also uses Catalan almost exclusively for oral and written communications.
Local authorities must abide by the decrees of the Catalan government and at present the Catalan language is used for most communications between officials, between officials and citizens and for the production of documents. Minutes of meetings, etc., are drafted in Catalan or, infrequently, in a bilingual version. Catalan is spoken at almost all municipal meetings (except in some Communes of the metropolitan area of Barcelona).
Proficiency in Catalan is a prerequisite for candidates entering the tests for entry into the public service in the region, in keeping with Law 17/1985 on Public Offices of the Administration of the Generalitat.
In State administrative offices in Catalonia, very little use is made of oral and written Catalan in dealings between these offices and citizens, although it is admissible. Since 1990, however, Catalan has been a prerequisite for entry into some posts.
Catalan is used substantially in the public services: signs in public hospitals, telephone invoices and bills, telephone directories, post office information, etc., are generally bilingual. It is possible to choose the language of communication with the telephone and electricity companies and in post and tax offices. However, almost all the information and notices in police stations are in Spanish.
As regards placenames, the Language Standardisation Law states that their only official form (with the exception of placenames in the Val d'Aran) is the Catalan form laid down by the Catalan government.
In the case of forenames and family names, a 1977 law states that the names of newborn children must be registered in one of the official Spanish languages and also sets out the steps to be taken to translate forenames and names. The Catalanisation of names has been widely accepted by society.
The situation as regards public and road signs has changed completely since 1975. Under Royal Order 334/1982 road, airport, railway, bus and port signs have to be bilingual as well as signs for public services of general interest run by the central authorities.
Catalan is widely used for signs in the public buildings of regional and local authorities and for public facilities such as municipal swimming pools, hospitals, sport complexes, etc.
Following the Language Standardisation Law, the Generalitat has enacted many measures to promote and regulate the use of Catalan in the media for which it is responsible and has stated that Catalan is the normal language medium. It is also authorised to subsidise periodical publications published entirely or partly in Catalan and to help to promote Catalan in radio stations. The Generalitat also awards financial assistance to the Catalan written press, to periodical publications, to projects likely to extend Catalan to the press and to the use of the Catalan press as a vehicle for promoting and disseminating Catalan culture.
Seven daily newspapers are published entirely in Catalan: Avui (founded in 1976) has a print-run of 35 000 copies, El Punt (founded in 1979 in Gerona), 16 000 copies, Regió 7 (founded in 1977 at Manresa), 8100 copies, Diari de Girona (published six times a week), 7500 copies, and Nou Diari de Reus and Nou Diari de Tarragona which are relatively recent initiatives (print-runs of 5000 to 6000 copies). Although Catalan is used by the majority of the local press, the Catalan dailies of the large towns are still in the minority (and account for 10% of total newspaper circulation).
The most important periodicals include El Temps, published in Valencia, which is a weekly general information magazine (some 26 000 copies), Presència (Sunday supplement of the newspaper El Punt, 55 000 copies), Serra d'Or (monthly cultural journal, 8000 copies), and Cavall Fort (bimonthly magazine for children, 25 000 copies). Local periodicals include El 9 Nou-Osona (two editions per week, 9800 copies), Diari de Vilanova and El 3 de Vuit (weeklies, 5600 and 5000 copies respectively).
Five public radio stations broadcast round the clock entirely in Catalan: Ràdio Quatre, general information; Catalunya Ràdio, general information; Ràdio Associació de Catalunya, modern and pop music; Catalunya Mùsica, classical music, and Catalunya Informació. There are also 192 municipal radio stations, some 80% of whose broadcasts are in Catalan. Some private radio stations broadcast in Catalan including Cadena Nova (7 local stations, 50% of whose programmes are in Catalan); Antena 3 (30% of programmes in Catalan), Cadena M80 (10%), SER (15%), Cadena Flash (100%) and Onda Cero (30%).
In television, four public channels broadcast throughout Catalonian territory: the two Televisió de Catalunya channels (TV3, founded in 1983, broadcasting a variety of programmes, and Canal 33, specialising more in cultural programmes and sport broadcasts). They broadcast exclusively in Catalan. Some 80 to 85% of advertising is in Catalan. The budget of the two channels was approximately ECU 190 million in 1992, 50% of which came from advertising and 16% from grants. Televisión Española is broadcast in Catalonia on two channels (TVE1 and TVE2) which broadcast chiefly in Spanish. In 1992, TVE in Catalonia broadcast 37 hours of programmes per week in Catalan.
Since 1989 there have also been three private channels with offices in Madrid: Antena 3 TV broadcasts only some local news programmes in Catalan (15 minutes per day), Tele-5 hardly ever broadcasts in Catalan, apart from a local news programme (15 minutes per day), although since March 1994, it has started to broadcast some programmes in Catalan using the dual system. Canal Plus (founded in 1990) is the only pay channel. It broadcasts only some local news programmes (15 minutes per day). There are also 50 local TV channels. Their programmes are mainly in Catalan, with the exception of films and video clips.
Audience figures for the various channels are as follows: (a) Catalan channels: TV3 broadcasts are watched by 42% of the audience and Canal 33 broadcasts by 14%; (b) Spanish public channels: 54% for TVE1 and 22% for TVE2. Audience figures for the private channels were 34% for Tele-5, 25% for Antena 3 and 5% for Canal Plus.
Finally, Catalan is represented in the computing world by five operating systems (including Windows 3.1, MS-DOS 5.0 and Macintosh 7.1). The Catalan version of MS-DOS 5.0 was produced as a joint venture by UNISYS, Siemens-Nixdorf, Olivetti, Investrònica, Quars, IBM, ICL España, Hewlett-Packard, Fujitsu España, Data General Bull and AOD-Microteam. There are also some spell-checkers for Catalan: ADHOC (developed by the Programma d'Informàtica Educativa of the Generalitat's Education Department), IBM (cooperation between the Catalan government and the University of Barcelona) and Microsoft Word. At least 177 software packages, produced by the various enterprises active in the Catalan market, were available in Catalan in 1993. The publishing house Enciclopèdia Catalana has also published a Catalan-Spanish-English dictionary (Hiperdiccionari) on CD-ROM (1993).
The number of books published in Catalan has proliferated since the death of General Franco. In 1993, 5905 titles were published in Catalan (12% of total publishing output in Spain), 4582 in Catalonia and the remainder in Valencia and the Balearic Islands. By genre, the data for 1992 were as follows: text and school books (24%), literary works (19%) and history books (8%). Close on 20% of the books published in Catalan are translations, chiefly from English, Spanish and French. There are also many literary meetings (Setmana del Llibre en Català Setmana del Llibre Infantil; Fira del Llibre de Barcelona). There has long been a Pen Club Català.
For the last five years or so, Catalan disc output has taken off as a result of the emergence and social and commercial impact of rock groups singing in Catalan (Sau, Sopa de Cabra, Els Pets, Sangtraït). In addition, some members of the authors and composers movement set up in the 1960s - the Nova Cançó Catalana - are continuing their careers with a great deal of success.
Catalan theatre (very prestigious and traditional) is of high quality. A large number of professional groups perform entirely (or almost) in Catalan: Els Comediants, La Compagnie Flotats, La Cubana, Dagoll-Davom, Els Joglars, Teatre Lliure, La Companya Nacional de Teatre, La Fura dels Baus, El Tricicle, Vol Ras, etc. Over 483people attended theatre performances in Catalan in Barcelona during the 1989-90 season.
In the cinema world, the grants awarded by the State for the production of films do not take account of language. To be eligible for the official grants awarded by the Generalitat, films presented in Catalonia must be exclusively in Catalan. 44 Catalan films were made between 1990 and 1993.
Almost all foreign films are dubbed in Spanish. Since 1991, the Culture Department of the Catalan government has been awarding financial grants to distribution enterprises to dub, subtitle and promote Catalan versions. The 1993 budget for dubbing and subtitling grants was some ECU 850 000. Following the new Spanish law on the cinema industry (1994), however, there has been an increase in the number of distribution enterprises dubbing in Catalan, but not in receipt of grants from the Catalan government.
Many cultural festivals are held every year, including the Nit de Santa Llúcia during which twelve or so literary prizes are awarded and the Premi d'Honor de les Lletres Catalanes, awarded to an intellectual by Ómnium Cultural, as well as the 5000 or so local cultural meetings organised by the various associations of Catalan popular culture.
Lastly, terminological work is carried out by Termcat, set up in 1987 by the Department of Culture of the Generalitat and the Institut d'Estudis Catalans and responsible for terminological research in all scientific and technological fields, as well as the publication of glossaries and vocabularies (including the glossary of olympic sports for the Olympic Games in 1992).
Catalan is widely used in the working world. In the private sector, for instance, knowledge of the Catalan language is an advantage for entry into many jobs (especially posts involving contact with the public), with the result that the population considers that jobs are more difficult to find without a good mastery of Catalan.
In the advertising world, Catalan is used everywhere (audiovisual media, press, magazines) although most advertising on public highways is in Spanish, with the exception of institutional advertising which is mostly in Catalan.
The State and Catalan governments have enacted a great deal of legislation on consumer information and the use of Catalan on labels and for instructions. A decree of the Generalitat establishes language freedom as regards the labelling of products marketed in Catalonia, while the State government states that "compulsory information on product labels (...) must be given in at least one official language of the Spanish State".
Law 3/1993 of the Generalitat de Catalunya establishing a Consumers' Charter, states that consumers are entitled to receive information relating to products and services and contractual documents in Catalan and to be heard in the official language of their choice. Since 1975, there has been a slow but constant upward trend in the use of Catalan in this area, chiefly for the following products: wines and spirits, patisserie and bakery products, dairy products, meat and sausages, oils and local craft products.
In the trade union world, the two main union confederations (IGT and CC.OO) and some employers' associations have set up language services.
In the commercial sector, 58% of establishments use Catalan for posters and notices and 85% of traders prefer to use Catalan in their dealings with customers.
In the banking sector, customers can communicate in the language of their choice with all the saving banks (which dominate this sector in Catalonia), while services such as credit cards, cheque books, etc., are bilingual.
In enterprises, some 90% of the managers of major enterprises having their offices in Catalonia understand, read and speak Catalan correctly (although only 40% can write it correctly), and oral use is also very high. 66% of personnel dealing with the public speak Catalan predominantly (78% among administrative personnel). Oral proficiency in Catalan is a selection criterion for personnel in 47% of cases (written proficiency in 30% of cases). A number of variables have an impact on the language practices of enterprises: the importance of the Catalan, Spanish or international market for the enterprise's products, the geographical and cultural origins of owners and the origins of senior management staff.
In the area of popular initiatives to increase the use of Catalan in business and commerce, the Crida a la Solidaritat has in the past organised many popular campaigns to raise people's awareness. The Associació en Defensa de l'Etiquetatge en Català (ADEC) has organised exhibitions of products labelled in Catalan in recent years.
Finally, the Department of Catalan Culture has entered into cooperation agreements with several enterprises and organisations in the economic sector for the creation of language services in their organisations, with the support of the Consorci per la Normalització Lingüistica. The Department of Industry awards grants for the Catalanisation of the various industrial sectors.
As mentioned above, the number of people whose language of habitual use is now Catalan is greater than the number of people whose habitual language in childhood was Spanish. Catalan is therefore the language of habitual use of slightly over half the population of Catalonia (and almost all of the population of Catalan origin) as a result of the trend towards bilingualism among Spanish speakers. Social (and to a smaller extent family) use of Catalan has therefore increased since 1975.
Among young people, Catalan is the most widely used family language. A growing number of families use both Catalan and Spanish. Spanish is the family language of over one third of young people. There has been a slow but constant improvement in the language skills of each new generation as a result of the increased use of Catalan in schools from 1980 onwards.
In addition to the fact that Catalan speakers are seen as having a higher social standing than other people, the use of Catalan is also considered to be a key factor in defining the social identity of Catalans. The substantial Spanish-speaking immigration which took place between 1950 and 1970 also helped to strengthen the social standing of Catalan speakers, as the economic and social marginalisation to which these immigrants were subject under Francoism made them perceive proficiency in Catalan as one of the main factors in social advancement.
Although religious practice has declined substantially over the last 20 years, the Catholic church has close links with the language, not only because Catalan is used for religious celebrations, but also because of the resistance work of the Abbey of Montserrat and the Catholic youth movements in the 1960s and 1970s.
Inside Spain, real exchanges between the governments of Catalonia and Valencia have until recently been very limited, despite technical contacts between leaders. Relations with the government of the Balearic Islands are wider-ranging, but the major socio-linguistic differences between these two areas have made the signature of bilateral agreements difficult.
In the case of relationships with Catalan communities outside Spain, there are no agreements between the Spanish and French governments to encourage and assist the survival of Catalan culture in northern Catalonia.
In contrast, there have been substantial contacts with Andorra for over ten years. The recognition of Catalan by some international organisations is due to the fact that Catalan has been the only official language of Andorra for seven centuries.
In recent years, exchanges between the two sides of the Pyrenees and between the Generalitat, the Universitat de Girona, the Chamber of Commerce of Girona, the towns of Figueres, Port-Bou, Girona, etc., and their counterparts in northern Catalonia, have increased. The universities of Girona and Perpignan run common education programmes and teaching materials (for Catalan teaching as well as for other subjects taught in Catalan) have been exchanged by many organisations and university institutes.
In 1992, an agreement signed by the Generalitat and the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the request of foreign universities made it possible for Spanish lectors to teach Catalan as well (this agreement was implemented in Denmark in 1993).
While preparing this report we were told by a number of our sources that the situation of Catalan in Catalonia (and to a smaller extent in Valencia and the Balearic Islands) cannot be compared with the situation of the languages covered by the works of EBLUL or the European Charter on Regional or Minority Languages. Catalan is obviously in a very different situation in the eastern region of Aragon, in northern Catalonia or even in Sardinia and shows a picture which is unfortunately very typical of Europe at present. This is also true, for instance, of Dutch and German, both official languages of the European Union, in France.
Among the cases studied, Catalonia is at the threshold of what Catalans call the standardisation of the use of their language, which makes it difficult for them to understand why it is not one of the official languages of the EU. The situation of Catalan (spoken by some seven million people) is misunderstood at two levels. In Europe, and in Spain, public opinion is not very aware of the vitality of Catalan. Catalonia does not always, however, have the resources to tackle this situation, although the celebration of the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, for instance, made it possible to make the situation better known. The result of this is that the revival of the social use of Catalan is erroneously seen as a kind of miracle. Language policy has been managed by democratic institutions and, therefore, with the majority support of the population, which makes the population of Catalonia very sensitive to questions connected with their language in all fields of daily life.
Catalonia is one of the most integrated European regions from the economic point of view, with a very high percentage of workers whose cultural origins are not Catalan. The language and cultural integration of this population is indispensable if Catalan is to continue to be the language medium of a modern, industrial and urban culture. Francoism, however, placed many obstacles in the way of the integration of Spanish speakers with the result that the descendants of these immigrants can nowadays say "We are Catalan" but cannot say it in Catalan. The objective of language integration would be far easier to achieve if Catalan managed to recover its position as a regional language. Its practical use goes together with its social prestige and with the prestige of Catalan speakers which has always been high.
When citizens have to use another language when they have to deal with some (central and European) authorities, a distance is created between these authorities and citizens. While this is true in all the cases studied in our report, in the case of Catalan, which is widely used for all communication functions in society, this kind of "administrative discrimination" is in stark contrast with the current socio-linguistic position of Catalan.