Standard vs. dialect: Attitudes to Canarian and Castilian Spanish




Many language attitude studies (Agheyisi and Fishman 1970; Shuy and Fasold 1973; Cooper and Fishman 1974; Gardner and Smythe 1977; Giles and Bouchard Ryan 1982) have been concerned both with the analysis of people's attitudes towards a particular variety of language and with the respondents' attitudes towards the speakers of those languages or varieties. This particular area of subjective reactions has been of interest to many scholars who have carried out extensive research on the topic (Lambert, Hodgson, Gardner and Fillenbaum, 1960; Lambert, Anisfeld and Yeni-Komshian 1965; Lambert 1967; Markel, Eisler and Reese 1967; Giles 1970; Tucker and Lambert 1972; Carranza and Bouchard Ryan 1975; Giles and Powesland 1997 (1975); Giles, Baker and Fielding 1975; El-Dash and Tucker 1975; Berk-Seligson 1984; Woolard 1984, and many others). They have found that listeners react subjectively to variation in speech and that they attribute positive or negative personality features to the speakers, depending on their use of prestige or stigmatised speech variants.

In their research of the attitudes held by a group of Canarian teachers towards their own variety of speech, Morín and Castellano (1990) did not find any negative attitudes towards the main phonological features of the Canarian Spanish dialect. However, according to Almeida (1992: 52; 1999: 118) and Trujillo (2003: 201), for many Canarian speakers the Castilian phonological norm has more prestige than that of their own variety. Our survey was mostly aimed at confirming or refuting these beliefs.

This poster will show the data collected in this empirical study about the present attitudes held by university students in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Canary Islands, Spain) towards their own variety of speech (Canarian Spanish) and towards the standard Castilian form of the Spanish language. Since, as stated above, previous surveys obtained rather contradictory results, we believe these attitudes may now be undergoing a process of change. We used a variant of the well-known matched-guise technique and conducted a survey with semantic differential scales firstly with two groups of Canarian students, namely, a group of English Philology students, who were supposed to be familiar with the issues of linguistic prestige and language variation, and another group of Computer Science students, more unaware of these questions. In addition, we surveyed a group of ULPGC Marine Science students coming from mainland Spain and, therefore, speakers of the standard Castilian variety, in order to check their evaluation of Canarian Spanish.

Session: POSTERS: Focus on interaction, discourse, media, professional settings
Friday, April 4, 2008, 12:45-15:45
room: foyer