Is the coexistence of Catalan and Spanish possible in Catalonia?PDF
We study the stability of two coexisting languages (Catalan and Spanish) in Catalonia (North-Eastern Spain), a key European region in political and economic terms. Our analysis relies on recent, abundant empirical data that is studied within an analytic model of population ...MORE ⇓
We study the stability of two coexisting languages (Catalan and Spanish) in Catalonia (North-Eastern Spain), a key European region in political and economic terms. Our analysis relies on recent, abundant empirical data that is studied within an analytic model of population dynamics. This model contemplates the possibilities of long-term language coexistence or extinction. We establish that the most likely scenario is a sustained coexistence. The data needs to be interpreted under different circumstances, some of them leading to the asymptotic extinction of one of the languages involved. We delimit the cases in which this can happen. Asymptotic behavior is often unrealistic as a predictor for complex social systems, hence we make an attempt at forecasting trends of speakers towards 2030. These also suggest sustained coexistence between both tongues, but some counterintuitive dynamics are unveiled for extreme cases in which Catalan would be likely to lose an important fraction of speakers. As an intermediate step, model parameters are obtained that convey relevant information about the prestige and interlinguistic similarity of the tongues as perceived by the population. This is the first time that these parameters are quantified rigorously for this couple of languages. Remarkably, Spanish is found to have a larger prestige specially in areas which historically had larger communities of Catalan monolingual speakers. Limited, spatially-segregated data allows us to examine more fine grained dynamics, thus better addressing the likely coexistence or extinction. Variation of the model parameters across regions are informative about how the two languages are perceived in more urban or rural environments.