Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gali-Cat United

A number of Galician and Catalan collectives have united in a bid to safeguard their languages. This week, the vice-president of the Galician Standardisation Board, Fran Rei, spoke about the linguistic situation in Galicia at a conference at a Catalan university. Meanwhile, the leader of the Catalan party ERC, Joan Puigcercós was invited to Santiago by the BNG (Galician Nationalist Party) and participated in a talk about "language as a harmonising factor".

Parallels between the languages were discussed in Barcelona but Fran Rei said that the differences also stood out. He told the Xornal de Galicia: "The situation regarding Catalan in the education sytem is very different and the use of Catalan in everyday life is more visible than it is here. Those at the conference stressed that Catalan is used in all walks of life. It is common in the cities. This is not the case in Galicia where Galician has practically disappeared from the major cities."

My own view on the last point is that although there is a lot of truth in the statement, exaggerating the situation does nothing to help and only adds fuel to the claim that nobody speaks or wants Galician in the cities. Recent estimates (which were considered bleak by Galician language supporters) were suggesting a figure of around 15-20% using Galician as their first language in Vigo and A Coruña, so I would disagree that it has practically disappeared from the major cities. Obviously its situation is not so healthy there but it's all relative. It is not the case that Galician has virtually died out in urban areas. I hear the language used in private coversations on the street at some point every other day and surely one or two in ten is not an insignificant number.

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