The Catalan government continues to claim that public use of Catalan was prohibited during the dictatorship, but everyone sensible now agrees that this was not so, and that publishing in Catalan–which is what we are interested in today–was never banned.
Xavi Caballé today posted several lists estimating numbers of publications in Catalan (where?) for some years in the period 1936-77, demonstrating a massive drop in real terms. This is very interesting, but doesn’t enable us to blame a regime taboo (whether based on linguistic prejudice or foreign exchange needs) rather other causes, such as the severe shortages of paper and just about everything suffered here post-war. So I thought it would be interesting to see to bang a bunch of queries into library databases in order to discover to what extent Spanish-language publication suffered too.
The catalogues of the Catalan regional library and the shared regional database are fairly unsophisticated, so I used the British Library’s Integrated Catalogue, with:
- location = Barcelona (this cuts out stuff published by exiles in places like Mexico City),
- year of publication,
- and a couple of embarrassing improvised things to work out whether the publication is in Spanish, Catalan or something else.
(Don’t take the stats too seriously: I’ve no idea what the BL’s acquisition policy was, external markets play a huge role in decisions to publish in Spanish in Barcelona, the samples are small, number of publications ain’t the same as total publication volume, and my querying may have let me down.)
First 1900-2000 at 10-year intervals, suggesting Catalan trailing to Spanish until the nationalists start pumping in money in the 1980s:
Second, annual figures 1930-1950, showing Catalan actually overtaking Spanish in 1937 driven by separatist-Stalinist government publications, and then a massive fall in total publishing in the post-war, with Catalan first being relatively marginalised (presumably until the outcome of WWII is clear) and then recovering to achieve the same real numbers as in revolutionary 1934 and the same relative numbers vis-à-vis Spanish as in 1930:
Here are my numbers for anyone who wants to take this further (the post-WWI bump is interesting–thankyou President Wilson):
- Language use survey
While nationalist politicians continue to exaggerate hugely the number of Catalan speakers (think: lobbying, EU official languages), the new Idescat figures (Idescat is the notoriously unreliable Catalan government stats bureau) on social use suggest that the vast sums spent by the Catalan government over the past couple of decades on persuading and forcing people to hop from one Latin dialect have actually been resulting in the conversion of some 18% of native Spanish speakers into predominantly Catalan-speaking or bilingual bunnies:
- World semen survey
There was a big discussion at choir last night about the frightful quality of semen in Barcelona. That’s not an infrequent topic of conversation, but this time it was at least partly based on quantitative evidence, namely a new comparative study by a local reproductive health institute.
The first deranged hypothesis was of a correlation between pacifism and infertility. Then I got into my normal Thursday night fight by suggesting that local men aren’t lacking in aggression, but that it tends to be directed at their girlfriends and at local politicians instead of foreign dictators.
Anyway, here for your perusal are the new numbers together with results from two similar surveys. The Spanish data are Instituto Marquès (2004), the US figures are from Shanna H Swan et al (2003), and the European numbers are from Jørgensen et al (2001):
- In praise of virtual travel writing
Nice story here about underpaid author Thomas Kohnstamm, who wrote his Lonely planet guide without going to Columbia. (Or did he go there and have to deal coke to survive? LD is characteristically confused.)
Guidebooks are so superficial, and information online so plentiful, that there’s actually no reason now why they shouldn’t be written from afar. …
- Catalan speakers the 15th most productive Wikipedists
Congratulations on Catalan users for hitting 50,000 articles on Wikipedia. Although quantity isn’t everything–articles in English are almost invariably far better than in other languages–they’re way ahead of Arabic and Klingon speakers, to mention several. Just for fun I’ve taken data for the first fifty languages by articles published from Wikipedia’s multilingual statistics and total speaker …