A sociolinguistic description of Perpignan
This thesis reports on a research project conducted in Perpignan in 1988. The object of the project was to discover and describe the varieties of language present in the town, patterns of language use and language attitudes among inhabitants. Perpignan has been part of France and therefore officially French-speaking for over three hundred years, but it is historically a Catalan-speaking town, and Catalan is still spoken there, although it is now a minority language. Several other minority languages are also spoken, due to the presence of immigrant communities, most notably Spanish, Portuguese and Arab. The research took the form of a questionnaire survey, used with a representative sample of the population. The major part of the thesis consists of a presentation of the findings of the survey. It presents the responses of the sample as a whole, and then discusses in greater detail the responses of each ethno-linguistic group. The survey revealed that Catalan, the historically indigenous language of the region, is quite widely known, but little used. 54.5% of the sampled population claim some knowledge of this language, but only 19.2% actually use it regularly. The majority of the sample seems to be well-disposed towards the language on a cultural level, yet see little or no use for it in practical terms. Use of and attitudes towards other minority languages are also discussed, with particular reference to Spanish, Portuguese and Arab immigrants. The study reveals a great linguistic diversity in Perpignan, and a number of conflicting movements and attitudes relating to those languages. There is a widespread feeling that it is inevitable and even necessary that all inhabitants of the town should become monolingual French speakers, yet at the same time there is an awareness of the value of maintaining minority languages, expressed mainly in attitudes towards Catalan.