H6: Phonoprosodic development of Catalan in its current bilingual context
Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Conxita Lleó
Research Assistants: Ariadna Benet, Susana Cortés
(a) to ascertain the areas in which the influence from Spanish is evident,
(b) to identify the trends in the current development of Catalan, and
(c) to weigh the role played by the internal and external factors in the language change.
Markedness and complexity are assumed to be internal factors. The external factors seem to be the presence of Spanish-speaking immigrants in the 1950s and 1960s as well as the fact that Catalan became a compulsory subject at school. Both factors together have contributed to a significant increase in the number of Catalan-speaking population, out of which many speak Catalan as L2.
The main aim of the research is hence to check which speakers initiate the changes and produce the new features more often. The sample population under study comprises three generations (children, youngsters and adults) in three districts of Barcelona. The districts have been chosen according to the presence of Spanish in each one of them: the district with the highest presence of Spanish (Nou Barris), the one with the lowest presence (Gràcia), an a district that could be placed somewhere in between (Eixample).
Questions (a) and (b) have lead to very different results depending on the district, as language change is taking place mainly in Nou Barris. Question (c) requires an increase in the number of informants in order to allow for comparable figures with the factor “language of the parents” under control in the different age groups. This means that the initial data must be expanded:
- According to the original research plan, we have recorded the speech of 10 informants per generation and district. However, this limited number of informants does not allow us to control for the variable “language of the parents”. The data of children and youngsters should be doubled in Gràcia and in Nou Barris, in order to keep the number of speakers in both groups balanced with respect to the factor “language of the parents”. That is, half the subjects should have Catalan-speaking parents and half the subjects should have Spanish-speaking parents or at least their mother should have Spanish as her L1.
- We will carry out some perception tests to find out whether the lack of differentiation in production between /ɛ/ and /e/ and between /ɔ/ and /o/, respectively, has to do with a poor perception of the contrasts. These perception tests will only be done on the children because they have not been explicitly told about the contrast at school yet.