Sproglig mangfoldighed i Spanien og Schweiz: En komparativ analyse af flersprogethed i Spanien og Schweiz og hvilken rolle de implementerede sprogpolitikker har haft for landene og deres nationale identitet.

Julie Kaae Jensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Spain and Switzerland are both multilingual federal states and despite similarities one thing leaps to the eye: in Switzerland communities co-exist harmoniously, while tension and dissatisfaction characterize the relationship between Catalonia and Spain. The contentious relationship between Catalonia and Spain reached its peak when the Constitutional Court overruled part of their Statute of Autonomy in 2010 and calls for complete independence started to grow. Even though the referendum had no legal status as the Constitutional Court impugned it, Catalonia’s independence project has given rise to a constitutional crisis in Spain. The Catalans are extreme committed to creating their own nation state and lay a strong claim to nationhood with their own language, Catalan, a unique cultural heritage and a common history dating back more than thousand years. The Catalan people consider their language not just to be a language and an instrument for communication – it is also the main and most visible symbol of Catalan nationality and cultural identity. In Switzerland speech communities exist side by side without any conflicts in spite of linguistic and cultural differences. However, the introduction of English in Swiss schools has given rise to a heated debate. Some consider English a threat to Switzerland’s existing structure of multilingualism, as it has been introduced at the expense of the Swiss national languages. This could undermine the national solidarity and comprehension between the linguistic communities. Others find that Switzerland has to adapt to globalisation. There are three dimensions of language planning: status planning, acquisition planning and corpus planning. How language planning is dealt with in multilingual states, reflects the authorities position on language and how much importance they attach to it. Historically seen the relationship between Catalonia and Spain has always been tense. Up until 1714 Catalonia was an independent region with own language, laws and customs. This changed with the defeat of Catalonia in the War of the Spanish Succession, where they were stripped of all privileges, parliament and court of law and Catalan was forbidden in the public sphere. The oppression and disrespect of the Catalan people and neglect of its language is the main reasonfor the current tensions between the Spanish state and Catalonia. Even though Catalan was acknowledged as official language with Castilian in Catalonia in 1978, Catalan has not been given equal status as Castilian on federal level, so one might say that the status planning of Catalan has been too inadequate. In Switzerland however all three major languages were acknowledged as official languages as the nation state was founded in 1848. However, Rhaeto-Romanic which usage is rather limited was not acknowledged as national language until 1938 and only semi-official status in 1996. The acknowledgement of the three major languages put them on an equal footing from the beginning, which is the main reason why Switzerland is not experiencing any major linguistic conflicts today. The cantonal autonomy, direct democracy and principle of subsidiarity have also been key contributors to this. Swiss acquisition planning has focused on all four languages and not just one, and this linguistic diversity has become part of the Swiss national identity. Catalonia has with its acquisition planning succeeded in re-establishing the Catalan language and actually to such a degree that Spaniards in Catalonia feel discriminated against. Both constructivism and ethnosymbolism can explain the Spanish nation building. Constructivism explicates the first attempt at building a Spanish nation in 1714, where no respect was shown the regional languages, Catalan included. Constructivists regard language as a tool without any significance to national identity. As democracy was restored in 1978, the regional languages were taken into consideration and made official in their respective regions. This applies to the theory of ethnosymbolism that accentuates the importance of language to national identity. Ethnosymbolism therefore also explains the decision of the Swiss founding fathers to grant all three languages official status. Constructivism describes the Swiss nation building best, because the national identity is based on political rights, democratic ideology and common political institutions.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages88