Joan over in John Chappell’s 2004/02/04 02:35 comments section is getting annoyed about people using the word Spanish instead of Castilian. “I think we should call things by their name,” he says,

Spanish languages are: Castillian, Catalan, Basque and Galician. I speak both Castillian and Catalan. I don’t agree with Español being the same as Castellano. I don’t hear English people claiming they speak British. They speak English, which is the language that comes from England.

I’m intrigued by the idea that English comes from England, but let’s look at Dutch for a moment. What we call Dutch is usually called Nederlands in the Netherlands. This is despite it being just one of roughly 13 Western Germanic languages currently spoken in the country. I guess that makes its status rather like that of Spanish in Spain, but no one gets into fights about it, although it may help to have a national anthem that starts with the immortal line: “I’m William of Nassau and I’m of German blood.”

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  1. I suppose this Joan thinks they speak American in America? or USAnian in the USA and Canadian in Canada?

  2. Trevor, we have different points of view. Spain is more similar to the UK than to the Netherlands. Catalan is spoken by 10.000.000 people. Almost as much as Dutch speakers. We had our kingdom for many years. We have cultural and historical differences. And we fight to keep them as other historical regions have dont not so long ago and are still doing. According to you in the former yugoslavia they spoke yugoslavian?. I suggest you to travel a little and read some history books.

    MM, you completely missed my point.

  3. Dude, you were on the Xish in Xland trip. Here are a couple of facts that you may find inconvenient:
    * The language most used in Catalonia is Spanish, not Catalan.
    * Saying that Catalan has 10M speakers is like classifying the population of the Netherlands (most of whom can manage a few sentences of German) as German speakers. Given almost universal literacy here, a population of roughly 6.5M, and an IES estimate of 45.% literacy in Catalan in 1996 (hit the literacy link), I reckon Catalan probably has around 3M mother tongue speakers. That’s not much more than, for example, the number of Turkish mother tongue speakers in Germany. Now Turks also have great historical and cultural traditions, as well as a much more impressive record of defending them than the Catalans, but do you think they should have a right to establish their own state within Germany?

  4. The Generalitat’s figures make sense if you include everyone who can say “Adéu” as a native speaker and they were produced not with the intention of reflecting the language situation here but in order to support a nationalist political agenda.

    Joan: if you can’t debate without losing your temper, I’ll ban you.

  5. Dude, are you suggesting Catalans:Spain :: Turks:Germany? If so, you wouldn’t be the first to compare an emergent nation with an immigrant group: This is typical of fascist discourse, such as Hitler’s and Franco’s. And here is a fact that you yourself might find inconvenient: Linguists (myself included) universally recognize that literacy has nothing to do with one’s linguistic competence for the purpose of determining if one is a native speaker. In fact, all of these terms are fuzzy and quite problematic, not the kind of thing worth bickering over. And your “reckoning” that “Catalan probably has around 3M mother tongue speakers” is pulled from the sky, which just highlights the important point that anyone with forty euros and lots of free time can run a fancy-looking “blog” and repeat nonsense for all to read.

  6. Trevor,

    I remind you that in the last Catalan elections. The national (Catalan) vote won the “spanish” vote. ERC + CIU combined had more votes than PSC(PSOE) + PP + IC

    I’m well aware that we have massive spanish inmigration from the 60’s. Some adapted to Catalonia, but a lot didnt. It’s a case similar to Quebec. They had their referendum to decide wether they wanted to be independent or not. I suppose you are for the autodermination of a nation with own culture, and language to decide their independence, right?. Or do you oppose the UN too?…

    Your comment about inmigrant turkish/Catalans was rather insulting. “T’has retratat”

  7. I think that what Joan is trying to say in his peculiarly charmless way is that recent contributions like vulgar Latin should be rejected and we should all go back to speaking whatever the Celtiberians spoke, and that anything resembling Anglo-Saxon or Norman French should be forbidden in England. What Nick and Joan say about Turks is simply Eurocentric racism.

    For the record, though Trevor gets some things wrong, I think his estimate of 3M may be slightly on the low side but it’s probably much closer to the mark than 6M, or 10M, or whatever the government has come up with.

  8. I thought that the right to autodetermination was dead. If you hold a referendum in Catalonia and the nationalists win, will there then be referendums for administrative regions within Catalonia where Spanish is the main language to let them form independent states within Catalonia?

  9. Geoff,

    With my charmless peculiar way, may I suggest you to take a reading comprehension class?. I think I express myself very clearly although my English is far from perfect. I dont see how you arrive to those crazy conclusions.

    As for calling me eurocentric racist (nice label BTW). Inmigrants are inmigrants… Europe was a nation of emigrants for an important period of time. You see the word turkish before the word inmigrant. and you inmediatly call me racist (It was trevor who mention particularly the turkish). LOL… who’s the racist here?

  10. Geoff, you are the racist for assuming that my point depended in any way on particular qualities of Turks vis-à-vis Germans. Incidentally, the same fascist mentality behind Trevor’s comment is shared by many in the current Turkish regime—but in the case of Turkey, it is the Kurds who are being bullied into invisibility by the state’s dominant ethnic group.

  11. Once you say that one social group should have more rights than another on the basis of geographic origins, a shared history or a common culture, then it doesn’t make any difference what happened to your people 300 years ago or even 30 years ago: you’re what the dictionary calls a racist. Saying that people who think of themselves as Catalans should have more rights in Catalonia than people who don’t is racist.

  12. Geoff, you seem incapable of noticing that Spanish speakers form a group themselves, that their language is not simply a neutral and natural alternative to pesky Catalan. If you really don’t like the idea of one group having more rights than another, I suggest you join one of the many campaigns to get movies dubbed equally into Catalan, for all signs to be bilingual, etc.

  13. I’ve read that 60% of the children that start going to the school in Catalonia have spanish as their mother tongue. Anyway, that percentage will surely be diminishing, as in public school all the subjetcs are taught only in catalan and parents have to pay a private school if the want a bilingual education.

    Joan, we (Catalonia) never had any kingdom. Catalonia was always part of the kingdom of Aragon, which united with the Castilian kingdom in 1492, the same year that the last moors (muslims) were defeated in Granada and expeled from the Iberian peninsula.

    –> “The national (Catalan) vote won the “spanish” vote. ERC + CIU combined had more votes than PSC(PSOE) + PP + IC”

    You’re wrong. If you consider nationalist vote only CIU+ERC, that’s 47’4%, less than PSC+PP+IC (50’34%). But I’m not sure that you can draw a very clear line between separatism/nationalism/catalanism/spanishness. Probably most of ERC voters are separatist, but I wouldn’t say the same about CIU voters.

  14. Geoff,

    The thing is Catalonia is nation without a state. If Catalonia was independent, our culture and language would not be so much in danger. In the 60’s we took a massive inmigration from Andalusia, Extremadura. That’s why half of the population speaks Spanish as their mother tongue. Now we receive the massive inmigration from Morocco and South America. Sure Catalan is as “official” as Spanish in Catalonia, but the majority of these people will never speak Catalan. In other countries inmigration changes the face of society, there is an evolution, but since there is a state… their language and historic culture is not so much danger. Catalan is doomed. But hey, why do you care huh?… just call me racist. By the way… when will we see the independence of California from the rest of the states? Since there seems to be more mexicans…

  15. By the way, Joan, you should know that the right of self determination that the UN recognizes can’t be applied to Catalonia. It was a right which was thought to allow independence of colonies or subjugated or exploited peoples. And the UN says in the resolution 1514 (declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples) this:

    “Any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. ”

    Now, from what I read I expect you or somebody else to tell me that Catalonia is a colony, or a subjugated and oppressed people. And I will laugh :)

  16. Pep,

    Aragon was the name of the kingdom, but Aragon, Valencia, and Catalonia, those territories had their own independent parliaments, houses and armies. The laws were different in every territory.

    You’re right about the votes. CIU + ERC won the majority of the parliament, but the popular vote (number of votes) is less than the other 3 combined.

  17. Who votes what is interesting. A woman I know who manages a branch here of a bank from down south tells me that many of her clients don’t vote because they think that the only people for which they would consider voting, the socialists, are Catalanists. I think a rival PSOE-based party here would increase turnout amongst immigrants from other parts of Spain, severly damage the PSC, and lead to voting figures that more accurately reflect what people actually think.

  18. Pep,

    In the recent past the UN have recognised countries like Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo… I don’t see why they cant recognise Euskadi and Catalunya in the future. And trust me, if the central spanish government insists on making such an aggressive and intolerant policy towards our nations, then it would not be so difficult to happen. The Spanish government is responsible of the radicalisation of nationalism in our regions. Every action has a reaction. Both Basques and Catalans are having enough of Spanish imperialism and lack of respect to our culture.

  19. Joan, you may remember that there was something called a war in Yugoslavia. Is that what you want here, and if so, who do think will sell you guns?

  20. Trevor,

    I agree with you. That’s why the spanish socialist party gets more votes in Catalonia than any other party during the Spanish election. A lot of the inmigrant spanish crowd see the Generalitat elections with disdain, as something “catalan” (as if they were not Catalan). Some even go as far as to vote PP because they hate the land they live in. Pretty stupid people…

  21. Trevor,

    Of course I dont want a war. That’s the last thing I want. But that’s up to the politicians. They are elected by the people and we expect them to be responsible enough as not to feed the hate among people and bring us to conflict. War is a failure on both parts. And as we have seen in the last years the right wing PP is creating too much tension. They just want power and win the elections no matter what. The aggressive policy against Catalonia and Euskadi means a lot of votes from the rest of Spain. That is irresponsible and inmoral. Everything has a limit. You dont mess with people’s national feelings if you want peace.

  22. Joan, calm down man!, you seem to be full of hate against so many people that have the same rights as individuals as you, and if they want to live in Catalonia and don’t feel like being nationalist, that’s perfect.

    I don’t agree with that typical nationalistic victimism of blaming “Madrid” of everything that they don’t like. It reminds me of so many arabs in the world who blame USA or Israel for their situation. And radicalization is only the responsability of those who decide to radicalize.

  23. Good idea, Trevor. I would also like to see the PSC split into the two parties they really are: a dependentist PSOE and devolutionist PSC. As it is now, the PSC just forces too much compromise from their voters. Just a few questions: Right now you are counting all PSC votes in the Spanish win column, so what will you do if the party splits? You’d have to add whatever votes the new and truly Catalanist PSC got to the already substantial CiU+ERC total. That would certainly be a lot of votes, don’t you think? And I know there are more than a few independent-minded IC voters out there. What if that party split up, too?

  24. The problem with Catalanists is that they present as an axiom something like “Catalonia is a nation” which is something completely open to debate, yet they refuse to discuss it. Then the next question is wether a nation is automatically entitled to its own state whaterver the internal situation is. The only legal reference here is the famous Canadian Supreme Court ruling.

    It is also a commonplace meme that if you don’t artificially support the preferred (by them) language it will disappear. Languages only disappear if people switch to another language and people do that if the abandoned language is not useful as a vehicle of communicating culture. The question I would ask is wether Catalan is a suitable language for the people who live in Catalonia (my feeling is that it is, but I don’t live there). I know people who live in New York permanently with extremely limited English skills and do fine with their Spanish. They have no need to switch. Two languages can coexist in the same place if they service their respective speakers well.

    But languages belong to people not to places and if you prefer one over another you prefer some people over some other. If you are the government you are creating first and second class citizens. Some people have more rights than others and that is called fascism, no less.

  25. I’ve got to go and sing now, so here’s just a brief reminder of the rules:
    * You can each use the word Franco five times, but Hitler only once.
    * No spitting or hair-pulling.
    * Joan is always wrong.

  26. JoteEle, I can tell that you are really speaking from the heart and that you value fairness. But it is obvious from your last comment that you (and just about everyone else slapping up half-baked commentary in this “blog” circle) have given very little thought or study to the moral and logistical complexities of balancing competing claims to linguistic rights. For an accessible introduction to this topic, have a look at Stephen May’s recent book “Languages and Minority Rights”.

  27. OK, this and then I’m out the door. I’ve actually read May and as far as I can remember he doesn’t say anything that is of particular relevance to this particular situation. He concludes (correct me if my memory is flawed) that languages are in danger in poor societies in which claims of ethnic diversity are not tolerated. This is clearly not the case in Catalonia. (BTW: I don’t think it’s fair to use a book title as an argument.)

  28. Was that an argument?

    Besides, maybe we’re talking about different books here: This one’s got a chapter on Catalonia. (Or maybe we are talking about different Mays.)

  29. Nick,

    I bow to your wisdom and superior understanding of the moral and logistical (?) complexities of … whatever. Anyway, I promise to take a look at your book if I come across it. And I thank you for your otherwise complimentary comment.

    You see, to me (it’s my personal view) language is a tool that serves a purpose to me as a person. To me there are no such things as the rights of the Catalans, women, workers, gays, etc. There are only people’s individual rights, of which the right of association is just one where the so-called collective rights spring out from. But the collective rights of some people cannot (well shouldn’t) be used to deny the individual rights of other people.

    Now if you would enlighten me on how culture is more important than people I’m all ears.

    BTW I don’t listen COPE or any other radio station for that matter. I think you can no longer listen to it in Catalonia can you?

  30. I believe we have legitimate aspirations for autodetermination. We have our own culture, history and language… If a majority of people choses to be independent, we should be independent. That’s international law. In case of extreme conflict (War) the UN would always recognise Catalonia and Euskadi as countries. As we have seen in the past. If you dont agree with that you’re the fascist. A milosevic type of fascist (or Aznar lol).

    You dont know how the government in Catalonia handles the language issue. Basically it doesnt intervene. It doesnt impose a certain language in education. Society itself handles that, in the aereas with lots of spanish inmigrants they learn almost everything in Spanish, and just the Catalan subject. In the rural areas with a big majority of Catalan speakers, the school teach all in Catalan except the Spanish subject. In universities they try something like 50-50.

    Despite the efforts of the Spanish right wing patriots to divide Catalonia in half. the truth is in Catalonia we have a great tolerant society there are no second class citizens. I have a lot of spanish speaking friends. Never had an argument with them. Most are tired of the vision that the radical wing wants to give about Catalonia which has nothing to do with reality.

  31. JotaEle,

    In Catalonia we all are Catalans despite of origin. So more rights for catalans means more rights for all. Is it just the language? That’s funny… I dont get you… Perhaps you think that the government in France should give education in Arab in all Southern France schools since the northern african population is growing so much there and eventually let french disappear because the french speakers will be outnumbered.

    BTW COPE is not banned in Catalonia. We can listen their bullshit all the time. You see… the difference between us and the rest of Spain is that we listen both arguments. They only listen one.

  32. Joan,

    Thanks for reassuring me. You see we ignorant Spaniards still have only TVE1 and TVE2 and cannot use Internet so they fed us that the evil Catalans have passed a so called ‘Catalan normalization law’ that tries to force all signs in Catalan, they even told us that the new local government announced to establish a sactionary regime to enforce that law.

    You see language (even two languages, as you graciously recognize), culture (even if it amounts to little more than folklore), history (even if it’s the same), etc. may make a good case for self determination but do not automatically grant it. To understand it you have to resort to the Canadian Supreme Court ruling just mentioned. It is published somewhere on the net. Just google it up. You can’t read it in Avui.

    This is important because the UN charter does not apply in democracies, as Pep pointed out. The Canadian Govt. asked the supreme court wether Quebec had the right to secede under Canadian constitution and International law.

    In short: The court ruling was pure commonsense. They said that International law was a matter of fait accompli, and that under the Canadian constitution, Quebec had no right to secede BUT (here comes the good part) constitutions are based on consensus and if consensus is broken a new one has to be found (commonsense!) therefore for a recognition of Quebec’s right to selfdetermination there had to be a *clear* (not just 51% although they don’t say how much) majority supporting it in Quebec and then a negotiation must follow. Canada cannot refuse to negotiate as long as the individuals’ rights are properly protected in Quebec, NOR CAN QUEBEC DICTATE THE TERMS OF SECESSION based on their majority.

    IMO, ERC is trying to get now something that is a matter of long negotiation and discussion, which is part of their agenda and the man in the street doesn’t care about. The leader is a clown and the fact that he got more votes than the PP hardly means anything. In the Spanish parliament elections they got only one seat while the PP got about 10 (not sure of the figure exactly but ERC was greatly outnumbered). In 2004 ERC expects 2-3 seats and the PP expects 15. All in the same electoral districts as the Catalan elections. So I wouldn’t make quick conclusions about the will of the Catalan people.

    And in my ideal world schools would be 100% private so if Arab minorities want to attend Arab schools they’d be free to do so.

  33. –> “you think that the government in France should give education in Arab in all Southern France schools ”

    The funny thing here is that in Catalonia parents who want their sons to be educated also in spanish have to choose private schools. However, in California or in Florida there are public schools who impart classes in spanish. :)

    –> “If a majority of people choses to be independent, we should be independent. That’s international law. In case of extreme conflict (War) the UN would always recognise Catalonia and Euskadi as countries”

    Perhaps in spanish you understand it better:

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