The Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua (AVL) is the official standardisation body for the Valencian language. It forms part of the institutions of the Generalitat Valenciana, the Valencia Regional Government. Its nature, structure and functions are regulated by the Statute of Autonomy of the Valencian Community and the Law for the Creation of the Valencian Academy of Language.
The functions of the AVL can be grouped into two areas: 1) determining the official standards of Valencian and the correct linguistic forms for toponyms and anthroponyms of the Valencian Community, and 2) undertaking actions for promoting the social use of the language in the exercise of its competency for “ensuring the normal use of Valencian”.
As determined by its foundational law, the AVL comprises 21 academicians, who are experts in Valencian with accredited scientific and academic competencies in the field of language or Valencian culture. The Presidency, the Governing Board and the Plenum are the governing organs of the institution. There are Sections and Commissions that are working bodies created to address specific areas: onomastics, grammar and lexicography, promotion of the use of Valencian, linguistic and literary documentation, terminology and language for specific purposes, religious texts and publications.
As an official public institution, the dicta of the AVL in the exercise of its standardisation functions must be observed by all regional institutions, the educational system, the communications media and other bodies, organs and publicly-owned or publicly-financed companies.
On the nature of Valencian
On 9 February 2005 the “Resolution of the Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua concerning principles and criteria for protecting the name and identity of Valencian” was approved. In this document, the AVL affirmed that “the language native to Valencians throughout their history, from the philological viewpoint, is also shared by other autonomous communities (Catalonia and the Balearic Islands) and the Principality of Andorra. […] Within this group of speech variants, Valencian has the same position and value as any other regional variety of the linguistic system; moreover, it possesses distinguishing characteristics which the AVL have to protect and promote based on local lexicographical and literary tradition, on the true linguistic situation in Valencia and on the normative rules already established in the Normes de Castelló (the Castelló Regulation)”.
As a consequence of this resolution, the standardised Valencian dictionary, Diccionari normatiu valencià, defines Valencian as a “Romance language spoken in the Valencian Community, as well as in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, the French department of the Pyrénées Orientales, the Principality of Andorra, the eastern flank of Aragon and the Sardinian town of Alghero (unique in Italy), where it receives the name of catalan”.
Main linguistic works
Since the founding of the AVL in 2001 until today the institution has carried out a number of academic activities. Of primary note is the dictionary mentioned above, Diccionari normatiu valencià (2016), a work compiling over 93,000 terms and representing an enormous lexicographic effort to recover words and expressions that are genuinely Valencian in nature. This work is available to the public and can be accessed from the institution's website and using Android and IOS-type mobile applications, with a system for accepting user suggestions. In the first year of its publication, users made some 3 million consultations. Also of note from the lexicographical standpoint is the spelling and pronunciation volume, Diccionari ortogràfic i de pronunciació del valencià (2006), as well as several specific vocabularies approved to date.
As regards grammatical works, of note is the Gramàtica normativa valenciana (2006) and the published version entitled Gramàtica valenciana bàsica (2016). And standing out in the onomastic field is the Corpus toponímic valencià (2009), a unique work in its genre that compiles over 50,000 toponyms in the Valencian Community. Interest in and concern for place names is especially deeply felt in this region. Proof of this are the annual seminars dedicated by the AVL since the year 2006 to studying the toponyms of different districts in the Community in monographic sessions.
Also to be highlighted is the Corpus Informatitzat del Valencià (CIVAL), an information bank including written documentation dating from the 13th century (when the Kingdom of Valencia was founded) until the present day, which permits various kinds of consultations: vocabulary, syntactical structures, phrases and expressions. In addition, within the field of documentation, a joint collection was published by the AVL and the University of Valencia including all texts written in Valencian from the 13th century under the title «Documents històrics valencians». Likewise, in collaboration with the University of Barcelona and the University of Valencia, the AVL has published the first volume of a Bibliografia de textos antics catalans, valencians i balears, compiling ancient texts from bibliographic and archive holdings in Valencian.
In the field of sociolinguistics, the AVL has carried out several studies, such as the large-scale sociological survey undertaken in 2004 on the use of Valencian, which was later published in the first volume of the white book Llibre blanc de l’ús del valencià (2005). Using data provided by the survey, a second volume (2008), was published, containing one-off studies classified by social milieu. Similarly, at the request of several universities and in collaboration with them, a major survey was carried out on the use of linguistics in public Valencian universities, Els usos lingüístics a les universitats públiques valencianes (2011). The AVL's interest in sociolinguistics is exemplified by participations since 2007 in the “Alcoi Sociolinguistics Seminar”, an annual gathering of specialists who focus on the status of Valencian from several different viewpoints. The institution has also organised two major conferences on sociolinguistics: the international symposium on multilingualism “Situació i Perspectives del Plurilingüisme a Europa” (2008) and the 30th anniversary symposium on the present and future of Valencian “El valencià, present i futur. En commemoració del trenta aniversari de la Llei d’Ús i Ensenyament del Valencià” (2013).
With the purpose of optimising efforts in the field of linguistic research, the AVL has signed collaboration agreements with various universities and research centres: University of València, University of Alacant, Universitat Jaume I of Castelló, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, University of Barcelona, the Faculty of Theology of Valencia, the Catholic University of Valencia, University Cardenal Herrera-CEU and the Valencian Music Institute. As a result of these agreements, many studies have been done on orthoepy, lexicography, anthroponymy, as well as the publication of ancient texts and sociolinguistics.
Efforts to promote the social use of Valencian
One of the main activities in this field is the annual celebration of the Writer of the Year, Escriptor de l’Any. This initiative consists of dedicating an entire year to the dissemination of works by a Valencian writer standing out for his or her production and literary quality. Some of the activities that are programmed include a major exhibition of the writer's works, another smaller travelling exhibition, the publication of works by or about the writer, conferences, concerts, documentaries, theatrical productions and the like. The writers having been eulogised to date include those pertaining to various phases of Valencian literature: Jaume I, Francesc Eiximenis, Joan Roís de Corella; the Valencian writers of the Modern Age (Constantí Llombart, Teodor Llorente, Carles Salvador), the writers of Castelló from the first third of the 20th century, Enric Valor, Manuel Sanchis Guarner and Vicent Andrés Estellés. Of note among the publications that AVL has brought out paying homage to the Writer of the Year are the collections Catàlegs and Didàctica.
The task of promoting the Valencian language propitiates liaisons with the Valencia government. The competent department for linguistic policies (Regional Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport) has the function of collaborating with the AVL. Two of the most outstanding initiatives in respect of their social repercussion and the economic investment dedicated to them are: collaboration through the Agency for the Promotion of Valencià (AVIVA) and participation in the CulturArts theatre and music circuit. The Agency for the Promotion of Valencià (AVIVA) brings together municipal offices for linguistic promotion from over seventy towns in the Valencian Community. The AVL has also run various advertising campaigns intended to publicise the existence of these offices, provide bibliographic material for them and has undertaken various training courses for them in collaboration with the Regional Ministry of Education. As regards collaborating with the CulturArts theatre and music circuit, the AVL provides incentives for performances and plays in Valencian, financing a certain percentage of production costs.
The AVL has always stressed the importance of the media, and maintained close relations with the regional television channel Radiotelevisió Valenciana from 2005 until its recent disappearance in 2013. This collaboration resulted in various documentaries on the Writers of the Year and on representative literary works in Valencian, such as Tirant lo Blanch from 1490. The AVL has also sponsored popular language programmes on the public Valencian television such as Trau la llengua. From 2005 on, the AVL has also provided subsidies to the local press and radio and to specialised magazines. The communications media have also been subject to debate in various seminars and workshops. Some years ago, the AVL published a style guide for professionals in the communication media called Llibre d’estil per als mitjans audiovisuals valencians (2011).
Another significant field of attention for the institution is contemporary literature. Whereas the “Writer of the Year” event is intended to pay homage to some of the most outstanding writers in the history of Valencian literature, deceased at least 10 years before, the “Contemporary Writers” seminars held by the AVL aim to establish a forum for debate, dialogue and the study of leading present-day authors in the Valencian letters. Ferran Torrent, Josep Piera, Rodolf Sirera and the composers and interpreters of Valencian songs (cançó en valencià) have all been included in various published editions. In the field of publishing, the AVL works in support of the Valencian Publishers Association (Associació d’Editors del País Valencià) and of various private bodies promoting reading and literary creation in Valencian.
Schools, of course, are a strategic point for literacy and socialisation in Valencian. The AVL dedicates much of its attention to the schoolroom (publications and travelling exhibitions) and collaborates with social and educational movements such as Escola Valenciana to promote enrolment in courses given in Valencian. Similarly, the institution reports on standardisation projects to the Valencian government as regards the use of Valencian in the classroom.
In relation to external promotion, the AVL has been collaborating with the Town Council of Yecla (Murcia) since 2005, providing classes in Valencian. Yecla is one of the municipalities in the Region of Murcia, together with Jumilla and Abanilla, which has nuclei of Valencian speakers in the district of Carche. In addition, in collaboration with the Institut Ramon Llull and the University of València and the Universitat Jaume I, the AVL maintains Valencian lectorships in Turin, Amiens and Cambridge.