dimarts, 5 de juny de 2007

Catalonia in the British press

Last week The Independent published an incredibly biased article about Catalan language that rather than a piece of balanced journalism looked more like a compilation of the usual arguments of those sectors of Spanish public opinion most hostile to Catalan identity.

Fortunately, thanks to the fast reaction of CatalansUK, the association of Catalan residents in the UK, that sent an letter to The Independent, next day British readers were able to get another point of view on this issue.

Read the original article

Reply (published in The Independent, 2/6/07):

The rich history of Catalan

Sir: In an article on the situation of Spanish in Catalonia (30 May), the writer seems to wish to defend "the language of Cervantes" against the alleged attacks on it by those who apparently impose "regional tongues".

Catalan is a romance language, with a thousand years of literary history and double the number of speakers of, say, Norwegian. Would the writer define Henrik Ibsen's language as a "regional tongue"? So, what is it, in his view, that makes the language of Gaudi, Casals, Dali, Miro or, for that matter, Cesc Fàbregas, inherently inferior? Cervantes himself is unlikely to have agreed with him since in El Quijote he refers to Joanot Martorell's Tirant lo Blanc, one of the pinnacles of our literary history, as "the best book in the world".

Our language and literature is studied in more than 30 countries. Catalan studies were introduced in Britain in the 1940s, and the Anglo-Catalan Society, founded in 1954, is thriving. Twenty British universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, offer Catalan courses.

Catalan was persecuted by Spain for almost 300 years; only since 1980 has the autonomous Government of Catalonia been able to devise policies which enable Catalan children to be taught in their own language.

The Catalan Government, like any other serious institution, implements the Spanish Constitution, the Catalan Charter of Autonomy and the laws passed by the democratically elected Catalan Parliament.

All teenagers must be fully proficient in both Spanish and Catalan by the time they leave compulsory education. This is because we feel that a bilingual society can only be positive.

In Catalonia, the situation of Catalan is still one of inferiority in relation to Spanish. Most TV and radio stations, newspapers, films and commercial labels on products are in Spanish, and few judges can speak the language.

This means many Catalans still cannot use their mother tongue when they go to the cinema, buy their food or decide to file a lawsuit.

We are proud that Catalan is not a political weapon, but a language and a literature which enrich the Spanish and European heritage.



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