Half a million fewer usual Catalan speakers than in 2005, says report

Plataforma per la Llengua survey states that 8 in 10 switch languages when someone talks to them in Spanish

Logo of the association Plataforma per la Llengua in their latest report on the situation of Catalan, on October 27, 2021
Logo of the association Plataforma per la Llengua in their latest report on the situation of Catalan, on October 27, 2021 / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

October 27, 2021 06:38 PM

Around 4.5 million people usually speak Catalan, half a million less than in 2005. This is the main conclusion of a report presented on Wednesday by the Plataforma per la Llengua, a lobby that defends the use of the language.

The study shows that out of the 13,936,235 people living in Catalan-speaking areas, 4,517,706 use Catalan as their main language, 32.4% of the total – a figure that rises to 42.6% when counting those who say they speak Catalan and another language, eg. Spanish, just as much.

In both Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, 36% of inhabitants prefer this language, while 28% do in Valencia.

Western Catalonia, including Lleida, is the area where Catalan is used the most (49.6%), followed by Andorra (37.9%). On the other end of the ranking, very few people prioritize this language in Northern Catalonia, now administratively in France (1.3%) and Alghero (9.1%).

The survey also states that 8 in 10 Catalan speakers switch languages when someone speaks to them in Spanish. Politeness and being respectful (43.5%) are the main reasons given for doing so by poll respondents. Other reasons include thinking the other person will not understand them well in Catalan (16.3%).

"We need a change in mindset," the president of Plataforma per la Llengua, Òscar Escuder, said in a press conference.

The study mentions other reports, like the Catalan government's latest on the topic, from 2018, that found the Ebre river region (81.2%) and Andorra (72.2%) to be among those where Catalan is used always or often. Meanwhile, 53.1% of the Barcelona area population never or hardly ever use it.

Plataforma per la Llengua has also asked whether the Catalan government protects the language more than at the beginning of the push for independence, in the early 2010s, and while 41.7% of those surveyed say more efforts were made before 2010, 30.9% say it is the other way around.

Meanwhile, almost 7 in 10 say authorities should guarantee the presence of Catalan in streaming platforms such as Netflix. This comes as the three main Catalan-speaking territories – Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic islands – have come together to defend the language in the audiovisual sector.