Tuesday, 16 December 2008

ENG: European Praise for Catalan Language Policies

Far too many expats living in Catalonia have negative opinions about the language policies set up to revive the everyday use of the Catalan language, the so called normalització lingüística. I am therefore happy to see that what most of us can agree to be a neutral body - an expert committee set up by the Council of Europe - offers new perspectives.

The purpose of their analysis was to see how far the recommendations of the European Language Charter of 1992 – an agreement to support the development of minority and regional languages, ratified by Spain in 2001 - have been implemented and the outcome is highly encouraging for Catalonia. The experts judge that education systems need to be based on a ‘total immersion’ in the co-official language and therefore fully justify, for example, the use of Catalan as the first language in schools here.

Among all Spanish areas with co-official languages, Catalonia received the most positive comments since only the judiciary plus some state authorities like Renfe (the railway system) and Correos (the post service) lag behind in the use of the co-official language. In the autonomous regions of Valencia and the Balearic Islands, on the other hand, the experts conclude that education in the local language is not comprehensive and also that the authorities there were unwilling to provide all information requested.

What we foreigners have the opportunity to experience in Catalonia is probably one of the world’s most successful projects to protect linguistic diversity. I think that we have all reason to be curious rather than critical.

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Yes, I plan to link this entry to other media sources and, yes, I would have wanted to present more hard data but I am constrained by the fact that we still do not have broadband connection from home. Next year, I keep telling myself, next year things will be better.

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Up-date: Here are the sources: LaVanguardia 1, Avui 1,

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Technorati tags: Bilingualism, Catalan, Catalonia, Expat, Spain, Spanish, Wirdheim


Tom said...

Nice post, Erik. I'm with you on this.

You've clearly noticed the amount of hateful spite spat by some ex-pats at a system that is apparently working well.

But yeah, the hard data would back your argument up better ;-)


Erik Wirdheim said...


Thanks for your encouraging comments. Today, finally, I will at least add the links to the sources.


Florenci Salesas said...

Nothing in this world is perfect. I don't think that our system is it either. Anyway, I am on the opinion that we are working in the best direction, despite the fact there are some case when some kind of injustice can be proved. But those cases have more of individual attitudes of some people who can't distinguish the difference that might exist between fight for our own rights and promoting hate. From the start, I don't hate anybody or any other culture and I think that any kind of fight based in hate only will drive tot eh self-destruction.
All this said, I feel very pissed each time I hear a foreigner protesting about the "imposition of Catalan language" which is an obvious oxymoron "com una casa de pagès". Here, the only language that has been imposed for centuries has been, and it continues doing it, the Spanish one. Spanish word is just an Imperialistic word to make up the true name which is Castilian (all this aside, a language I like a lot). You don’t have to be a genus to understand that if we have that language here too isn’t because we enjoy so lot being friends and lovers, but because Castilians had bigger canons. What fuck them is that Catalan language isn’t not only extinguished but the main language of an important part of the population still, and despite all the terrible environment against it –nonetheless the absolute lack of external help of, but even bigoted publicity against our culture-- being still alive and useful.
I heard an English speaker protesting by the stupid exigency of certain level of Catalan for teach at the schools, giving the terrible example of a Russian lady who speaks a really good Catalan but who don't reach the level asked for. I have to say to that English speaker that my knowledge of history is in some cases higher that some of the guys who passed by the University. I never studied in such place. By this reason, I haven't any paper saying I'm so learned in such subject, of course. Then, I will never complaint about it, even if some guys consider that this is an injustice. I think that this is perfect and the injustice it will be if some school would be so crazy to allow me to teach, without having passed a minimum test of exigency. Nobody than me is grateful to the Russian lady who is making such efforts for having that level in Catalan. But the funny side of this is that she is the first to agree with me! I am on the side that I want my kids have the best education as possible and I prefer, we like it or not, that professors reach a certain level in language skills, because language is the most important tool for communication between humans. What happens here is that guys like the English complainer came here with their Imperialistic mind, without having a minimum wish to accept a reality that is far more complex that they wanted to accept.
Having all that said, my wife is New Zealander, English speaker, who learned Catalan before than Spanish and far pissed off in this respect with a the bigoted attitude of lot of her own brothers of mother language here.
Spanish will allow living here, and most part of people here will help you because most part of people aren’t cunts. But you will a foreigner forever, and Catalans never will shout it in your face because there is the law of the silence at this respect. Catalan, on the other hand, will allow you to truly and deeply understand this country, the town when you live, what is behind anything that exists in your immediate environment, and finally to be considered, loved and being a Catalan more in the community. A foreigner who comes to Catalunya has three options: to learn Catalan, to learn Spanish, or learn both of them. I was far more patient when I was younger, but my patience has been finished about this question. I'll be ever polite with those who make the second option and I will help them ever they ask it to me for, but I will be clear the first time they piss me even an inch about what I think about them. Yes, now I'm such a bastard, sorry.
Have a nice day and sorry for that long comment.