Aspects of language contact in Rioja Alavesa
The aim of this dissertation is to provide a global perspective of language contact in the Basque region of Rioja Alavesa. In this largely Spanish-speaking monolingual community, an incipient process of language change is occurring. The Basque language is being reintroduced in the area, mainly through the education system. This research seeks to analyze the effects of such language revitalization efforts implemented by the regional government of the Basque Autonomous Community in a traditionally non-Basque speaking area. For that purpose, aspects such as language competence and use, attitudes towards bilingualism and Basque, perceptions of language vitality and identity issues are examined. Chapter One introduces definitions and distinctions related to bilingualism and multilingualism. Terms and concepts relevant to this study are explained and discussed. Chapter Two and Three describe the bilingual situations in the Basque Country and Wales respectively. In chapter Two the geographical, linguistic and historical background is provided, and the situation of the Basque language is examined in detail. This supplies a contextμalization for the research. The description of bilingualism in Wales serves as a comparison with the Basque situation, with the aim of providing a wider perspective to the issues examined in this thesis. Chapter Four presents the methodology and procedures employed in the research investigation. The research tools include quantitative and qualitative methods. Individuals' perceptions of the situation of language contact in Rioja Alavesa were analyzed through interviews and observation work. Questionnaires were used to assess secondary and upper-secondary school students from the region. The results of the research investigation are examined in chapters Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine and Ten. Chapter Five introduces the interviews and the observation work carried out in the winter of 2001 in Rioja Alavesa. Chapter Six presents the overall results of the questionnaires, and sets the foundation for further research. In chapters Seven, Eight and Nine, comparisons between students are made, according to their bilingual teaching model, gender, age, and ability to speak Basque. Chapter Ten introduces a model of language contact in Rioja Alavesa. Chapter Eleven provides a summary of this thesis. It reviews the main aims of the thesis, and determines the originality of the research. Moreover, it discusses the major finding of the research and makes suggestions for further research. The limitations of the research are described next. Finally, the chapter examines implications of the research for language change in Rioja Alavesa.