Catalan banned in Sants

Not so much flogging as snogging a dead horse, here is an excerpt from Rafael Miralles Bravo’s Memorias de un comandante rojo (1975), quoted by Fernando Díaz-Plaja in Anecdotario De La Guerra Civil Española (previous post), dealing with the brief civil war within a civil war in May 1937:

The 4th passed without incidents other than those already noted. Some Barcelona neighbourhoods found themselves in the hands of the FAI [fairly naive pro-FAI article]. This was the case in Sans, where the Bakuninists had hastened to proclaim a state of communist libertarianism, and at the entry to which, opposite the Plaza de España itself, fluttered a gigantic poster with the following inscription: “Independent Republic of Murcia. Here ends Cataluña. Forbidden to speak Catalan.”

Díaz-Plaja adds:

They’d gone too far if you consider that, following the entry of the Nationalist troops into Barcelona, Franco’s feared anti-Catalanists had at least guaranteed that “no-one will impede the private and family use of Catalan.”

The FAI never got round to declaring Murcian the official language. It just wasn’t their style.

[FYI, a quick n stupid Weinreich-based ghit-count suggests that, quantitatively speaking, Catalan is much more of a language than Murcian, but that both pale into nothing compared with Spanish:

catalan(a) murcian@ español(a)

227 1 12,300

88 1 42,400


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  1. Timothy Garton-Ash cites in his book “Historia del presente” (“History of the Present”. 2000: Barcelona. Tusquets. Translated by María Rodríguez Tapia. p.243) the famous aphorism from Weinreich “A language is a dialect with an army” —which, according to the Wikipedia, is actually from Hubert Lyautey. In a footnote, Garton-Ash ironically comments: “Perhaps it could be said that a State is a language with an army”.

  2. Catalan was also banned by Louis XIV in 1700 following occupation of Cataluña by the French, who have always taken a sterner view in such matters than the Spanish.

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