Steven Byrne conference report 2017

Steven Byrne is a PhD candidate in the School of Modern Languages and Applied Linguistics. He recently received funding from the Faculty of AHSS to attend a conference, read his report below.

Complex social dynamics are coming to the fore as the push for independence unfolds in Catalonia. A vibrant civic and political movement for an independent Catalonia has brought a renewed urgency to questions about what it means, personally and politically, to speak or not to speak Catalan and to claim Catalan identity. Considering this, the purpose of my study is to investigate the attitudes held toward the Catalan language and regional and linguistic identities in the city of Girona, Catalonia. In particular, my research aims to explore the attitudes toward the Catalan language held by members of independence organisations in the city of Girona. Girona provides a unique opportunity to investigate the attitudes held toward Catalan due to the number of independence organisations and movements operating in the city. Considering this, participants are being recruited from Ateneu 24 de Juny, Casal el Forn, Assemblea de Joves Girones and ARRAN Girona/Ateneu 4 Rius.

Exploring a person’s implicit language attitude is notoriously difficult and language attitude research has often been criticised for decontextualising the situation in which attitudes occur. Nonetheless, previous research demonstrates that it may be possible to uncover traces of personal language attitudes through qualitative methodological approaches such as observation, interviewing and focus groups. Thus, to gather relevant data this study will employ qualitative methods of data collection, namely narrative interviews and focus groups. Conducting a qualitative study in the field of language attitude research affords the opportunity to unearth rich and in-depth data from respondents. Through employing a qualitative approach this study will seek to uncover the language attitudes, understood here as an expression of positive or negative feelings toward a language or language varieties, in the city of Girona.