linguistic policy and legislation

linguistic policy and legislation
   One of the most distinctive features of post-Franco Spain is its emergence as a decentralized and plurilingual country after a period during which severe, albeit lessening, repression of minority languages was exercised in the interests of achieving a centralized, monolingual state. As a reaction against the linguistic illiberalism of this period, the constitution of 1978 sought to redress the balance and offer a measure of protection to minority languages, henceforth seen as part of Spain's rich cultural diversity. While the constitution established Spanish as the official state language, in article 3.2 it provided for the co-officiality of the various minority languages or lenguas propias within their autonomous communities.
   Those who drafted the constitution were careful to avoid specifying exactly how many languages exist in Spain and chose to leave such tasks of self-definition to the autonomous communities themselves. Thus, in the legislative framework provided by the Statutes of Autonomy, in addition to Spanish, reference is made to the following minority varieties: Catalan, Valencian, Galician, Basque, bable (spoken in Asturias) and the different dialects of Aragon and Andalusia. The articles of the Statutes relating to language are further developed in the Leyes de Normalización (Language Planning Laws) passed between 1982 and 1986 (Basque country, 1982, Catalonia, 1983, Galicia, 1983, Valencia, 1983, Balearic Islands, 1986 and Navarre, 1986). These essentially build on the notions of linguistic rights enshrined in the constitution, that is, the minority language's status of co-officiality with Spanish, the right of citizens to know and use that language in all circumstances and the right to freedom from discrimination on linguistic grounds. Some also specify the geographical area in which the law applies, for example, Navarre identifies three zones (Basque-speaking, Spanish-speaking and mixed) in each of which different provisions of the legislation will apply. The legislation typically refers to the responsibilities of the government of the autonomous community in promoting the minority language in both stages of the planning process; corpus planning and status planning. Thus, the legislation specifies the code (language variety) to be adopted (e.g. el euskera— Basque) and may name the institution responsible for the formal codification of grammatical and orthographic norms and for updating the lexicon of the language (e.g. Euskaltazaindia—The Royal Academy of the Basque Language); second, it lays down the ways in which the knowledge and use of the language are to be promoted (principally in the areas of Public Administration, Education and Culture and the Media). Furthermore, most autonomous communities with minority languages have created specific departments to assist in the implementation of the legislation. Significant parts of this legislation have proved a site for conflict, for example, the selection of Valencian rather than Catalan in the autonomous community of Valencia and the absence of reference to an authority responsible for its codification; the perception by some Spanishspeakers in, for example, Catalonia that their rights are not respected; and the perception by minority language speakers of the inequality of status between their language and Spanish.
   Further reading
   - Siguán, M. (1992) España plurilingüe, Madrid: Alianza (chapter 2 includes an excellent overview of language policy and legislation; there is also an extensive thematically organized bibliography).
   MIRANDA STEWART

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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