7. Are Galicians bound to diglossia?
Galician is a minority Romance language spoken in the northwestern Spain, where it shares co-official status with Spanish. Over the centuries, the status of Galician has changed due to the political situations within Spain, ultimately affecting speakers' attitudes and the use of both languages. Spanish has always enjoyed high status while Galician has been considered a non-standard and much stigmatized dialect since the 15th century to Franco's dictatorship (1939–1975). Due to its rural economy, the native language of Galicia remained a linguistic variety principally used by lower-class rural dwellers. Democracy (1978) transformed the linguistic conditions of Galicia, elevating the status of Galician to that of “language” and declaring it co-official with Spanish. This paper will analyze the legal language used to refer to Spanish and Galician in the Spanish Constitution, the Autonomy Statute of Galicia, and the Linguistic Normalization Act. In addition, I will examine the relatively new construct of “standard” Galician and its use in school curriculum, public institutions, and the media. Finally I will analyze speakers' attitudes towards “standard” Galician as well as their linguistic choices in Galician society: Spanish, “standard” Galician, and the local dialects. The theoretical background for this paper relies on the idea of (1) diglossia (Ferguson 1959; Fishman 1967; Fernández 1978), an embedded phenomenon in the socio-linguistic history of Galicia; (2) the intermingled concepts of language revitalization (Fishman 1991; Del Valle 2000), and (3) language identity (Fishman 1991; Shannon 1995; Lécours 2001). The data are drawn from ethnolinguistic and sociolinguistic studies of Galician and Spanish (<i>Mapa Sociolingüístico de Galicia</i>1996; Del Valle 2000; Ramallo 2000; Beswick 2002), and observations from my own continuing ethnolinguistic research of the region (2002–2004). Recent standardization efforts have attempted to extend “standard” Galician to formal contexts meant to confer linguistic prestige. Having a Galician standard would allow citizens to converge into this variety instead of Spanish, avoiding the common Spanish/Galician diglossia. Furthermore, the standardization movement has tried to reinforce Galician identity and attract the loyalty of speakers. But, “standard” Galician has become a source of diglossia in and of itself. Speakers may shift into “standard” Galician because they consider it more appropriate and higher in status than the local varieties. This may lead to a more traditional diglossic society where speakers who are not competent in standard Galician shift into Spanish in formal contexts. These ramifications will be discussed in light of the ethnograpthic data.