In defence of Catalan language immersion

It’s a fine example of practical neo-feudalism, and screw the serfs.

<a href=''>Luke 3</a>: I indeed baptize you with Catalan; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. C15th Dutch miniature from their <a href=''>Koninklijke Bibliotheek</a>.

Luke 3: I indeed baptize you with Catalan; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. C15th Dutch miniature from their Koninklijke Bibliotheek.

With reference to all the blather about this decade’s hot potato, here’s where nationalist leaders send their kids to school:

  • José Montilla: Deutsche Schule Barcelona, main language of instruction German, secondary Spanish.
  • Artur Mas & Joan Laporta: Lycée Français, main language of instruction French, secondary Spanish.
  • Manuela de Madre, José Zaragoza, Joaquim Nadal, and Mar-tian Serna are among other Catalan socialist preachers of monolingualism who prefer private, which is to say non-Catalan.
  • Any more?

Everyone else: shite state and semi-state schools, only language of instruction Catalan.

So at least some youngsters will be able to find work south of Tarragona, west of Lérida, north of Gerona, or east of Barcelona should Artur Mas’ solemnly predicted recovery (or renaissance, or whatever) not actually kick in in 2013. The serfs can always grub for roots.

Seriously, can Rajoy handle a civil war?

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  1. There’s an illuminating interview here with Francisco Caja of Convivencia Cívica & their lawyer, Ángel Escribano. Someone should really write a succinct exposition of all this stuff in English as well as in German – the issue is big on Mallorca.

  2. The idea that the nationalists will dismount from the donkey, full stop, is naive. Independence isn’t an option because even if it were peaceful the regime is committed to Anschluss with Valencia, Roussillon and the Balearics, i.e. to a series of regional wars with Spain and France rather like the Paraguayan War in the 1860s. So I think they’ll comply formally and then ensure informally that classes given in Spanish are disrupted and the promotors of the change terrorised and where appropriate killed. This is the Balkans, after all.

  3. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but it’s difficult to see where else the thieves and idiots who dedicate their lives to Language & Nation can go from here. The on-going colonisation of Paris by regional barons makes me wonder whether some modus vivendi might not be established with France regarding Perpignan, but Valencia’s complicated.

  4. There’s a perversity in predicting terrorism and killings, just as there is in saying that pro-independence necessarily becomes pro-annexation (though ‘isn’t an option’ might not actually be that far off).

    The current language system seems fine to me: the only local people I’ve ever met who couldn’t speak castellano properly come from mountainland and were out of school before immersion began. IE it makes no difference to people in the countryside either way, but changing the language of instruction in town will likely lead to fewer ‘xarnegos’ getting their foot in the door at Gencat, ajuntaments etc, which really will lead to pointless disaffection and a ghettoisation.

    Then again, those three families that complained, and that racist Polish chap I had an argument with 3 years ago (who has fled to Germany anyway, and no, didn’t speak good Russian, the petit-nationalist scumbag), at least they might be happy.

  5. Who says the authorities should, or are even entitled to, demand Catalan as a condition for jobseekers? On Balearics they’re getting rid of it because otherwise they wouldn’t have any nurses, and the effect of its presence here is, by effectively limiting job applicants to those born north of the Ebro and east of the Noguera, to reduce the quality of public services.

    I know plenty of young people who can’t speak or write Spanish in a way that would pass muster in other parts of Spain. The most poignant example are the 10-12 yo kids of a pro-Spanish PP councillor in your neck of the woods, but the ca 30-yo doctor who misdiagnosed my otitis at a Gracia CAP last month struggled to find her words.

    Since Cataloonia is one of the richest regions I’d normally expect kids here to be hitting top grades in Spanish, but I’m still curious about the data behind the oft-repeated claim that they’re tagging along around the average & hence that everything is just fine.

  6. Cataloony “it’s war” quotes:

    • Quico Sallés: D’aquí a cinc mesos, si Déu vol, seré pare. D’aquí uns anys li vull dir al meu fill que és català, que viu en un estat i que enraona una llengua mil·lenària perquè un dia el seu poble es va fer soldat. Si volen guerra, en tindran.
    • Oriol Pujol: Desarrollaremos todo lo que haga falta [de la inmersión lingüística obligatoria], para que todo el mundo tenga claro que de esto haremos un casus belli
    • Jaume Clotet: Si volen viure al ghetto, endavant. Proposo aixecar-la a la Zona Franca, per exemple: entre la futura presó i la futura gossera crec que hi ha un solar adient. Això sí, llavors expliquem molt bé que el seu caprici exclusivament ideològic ens costarà un ronyó a tots els ciutadans i, sobretot, eliminem efectivament el castellà de l’escola, on per molt que ens haguem cregut això de la immersió la llengua espanyola continua sent utlitzada per moltíssims professors. Volen un bantustan? Per mi cap problema.
  7. You’ve beaten me to the issue, Trev. I’m still collecting the data and no time to write.

    Tom, terrorism has been applied here in the past, and those who did so have switched to peaceful means for tactical reasons only.

    As the PSAN puts it: “(…) an oppressed nation has the right to use all forms of struggle as means for its liberation and that the decision which precise means to employ in each historical moment depends on the context (…).”

    I understand that nicking immersion qualifies very much as “oppression” in the minds of the usual suspects.

  8. Tom, go to, from the menu on top choose “Organització” and then “Què és el PSAN?”. You’ll get this text

    It’s the text I have quoted from. I have also referred to it on my blog.

    It does not matter at all that this is a text from, as I understand, December 2002. It’s validity is quite clear, it still answers the basic question “What is the PSAN?”.

    Not surprisingly, the PSAN still pays homage to former terrorists like Toni Villascusa year after year. (Sorry Trev, once more I have to refer to my blog.)

    Even more important is that the PSAN is not just any splinter group you can happily shelve under “fruitcakes”. Through Toni Strubell’s SI it sits in the Catalan parliament. In the past weeks I have even seen a press release written by the PSAN (in Valencian dialect) published on SI’s web as if it were their own one. You can also check Strubell’s fascination with former terrorists like Núria Cadenes (PSAN) on Strubell’s web.

    This is not a moot point nor is it ancient history. The mentality of the PSAN is very much alive. And “all forms of struggle” is just like the “any means necessary” found in so many UNSC resolutions: it authorises the use of force.

  9. Whatever anyone says or does it’s bound to end in violence because neither side has room to back down. And, apart from the Cataloonies, it’ll be Zapatero and Aznar’s fault.

    What interests me in particular is that this massive looming constitutional crisis has as of last inspection received absolutely no coverage in the German media, which is kind of weird since even if the Spanish economy were capable of salvation there’s a decent chance this would blow it out of the water.

  10. It matters if no one gives the slightest fuck about what the PSAN says. I could refer to the CPGB in economic arguments but I’d look mental because not even communists listen to them.

  11. As to ‘there’s so little room for movement, it’ll all just kick off’ – is this really supported by history? Terra Lliure (thanks, Candide, for apparently assuming I’d never heard of them) – were really up to much. More murderous than the CNLA, sure, but let’s not exaggerate things. TL was formed at a time when there were enough people still willing to support an armed struggle in Catalonia. Their ‘tactical’ shift was in fact caused by a total lack of support.

    Nah, all this means is years and years of continued/endless bickering. In a few years time, education in Catalan will be embraced as a ‘normal and desirable state of affairs’ when Madrid needs votes for something.

    I wonder if any other changes will sneak onto the constitutional reform bill?

  12. What it actually means is that by mid-November (they may find reasons to wait a couple of weeks more) justice will be legally obliged to take charge of education and fine and then sack any public servants who refuse to implement the law or suffer the same fate themselves. It’s a dog-fight where the participants are roped together.

  13. Sorry, Tom, if it seemed that I was lecturing you on the facts. I just brought them up to reason the argument that violence cannot be discarded. I do take your point that there is no popular support for violence. But I think others might misjudge the situation.

    I also agree with Trevor that it’s “a dog-fight where the participants are roped together”, which might take the turn Tom indicates, negotiations in Madrid when the central government needs CiU like so many times before.

    Right now it’s up to the Generalitat to judge how much protection of Catalan language is still needed. Mas has to play defense now, let’s see what’ll happen with his recent offensive move i.e. new fiscal pact.

  14. Call me a naive believer in the separation of powers, but how can a PP-CiU entente in Madrid affect the courts’ decision?

  15. The new arrangement has to be made by the Generalitat according to its own criteria, says the TSJC. If the main political parties don’t complain about the to be expected window dressing then the citizens affected will again be mainly on their own. This can go on for years.

  16. If you’re both right and the courts will run away from a confrontation with CiU, then I’m hoping the PP will push through change, with or without the non-totalitarian wing of the PSOE, as it has already done in Galicia and Balearics. Apparently 81% of Catalans would prefer bilingualism, so this could be the flagship policy that turns the PP into one of the major parties in Barcelona. Ah, but Rajoy is a coward, you say.

  17. Acutely aware that it should be us three who get things finally settled (no kidding), I have to confess that I actually don’t know what I’d prefer right now.

    I’m looking into that 81% figure, which seems very high. In my next post I’ll have a somewhat lower figure, but still majority for bilingual immersion. (If I can get that darn thing written finally.)

    I do doubt a lot that the PP will gain many votes in the short run. In my latest entry I quote one Mr Orriols. If his observation about the electorate of the PSC can be generalised, and I think it can, then Spanish speakers here have a high pain threshold when Catalan is concerned. It seems to be based on the acknowledgement that Catalan is the “natural” language in Catalonia and they don’t want to meddle with those things. So they go with the flow.

    Except, for sure, you ask them to speak their minds freely and make a choice, which is when another long submerged current sees the light.

    I bet you one thing: we will never see in Catalonia a referendum on classroom language use. Even though this would be a matter that perfectly fits the criteria -i.e. it’s really about things so very personal that the public should be consulted- we’ll never, ever, have that degree of democracy in Catalonia.

    Which is why I said that the three of us would get matters settled. Nice full circle.

  18. LaCaixa survey here from 2001 with n=136(!) comes to rather different conclusions – but still enough to encourage a PP interested in building to 20%+ in elections.

  19. It’s all rather sixteenth century, isn’t it: revelation over reason, language given by God over economic expediency, better a rubbish sweeper in Vic than a telecomms exec in Madrid. There’s more mediaeval in us than we think.

  20. Dear Trevor & A Nun: Thanks, first. I’ll read the doc.

    Yes, it’s all terribly medieval and/or third world. Like today when, one more time, I commented on La Vanguadia/Pilar Rahola’s bashing of Farwaz Gerges, that he at least has real academic degrees, while Rahola has faked hers. And got censored. Again.

    Above I said that “this can go on for years”. That’s Spain! Just delay resolving a problem until it’s grown so big you have civil war over it. Mañana…

    And who cares about mañana? Well, the rest of the EU does, so now Spain’s a puppet on a string.

    Now hand us the soap because that belongs to us, too.

    PS: As to “the private option will continue to allow those who make the laws to elude their application”, I see several (groups of) people trying to pick up the soap. And I’m very close to not caring who’s first. Anywho, system applies here too. Obviously.

    The fundamental question for the EU remains if 16th century really belongs to our present and future. Did they even have showers back then?

  21. The Basque or Welsh systems would be fine. Only in Catalonia can offering parents the choice to educate their kids in their own language be called oppression.

  22. Hi Boy. What are you doing man? You’re somewhere out there….

    Back to the topic: you are intrinsically right, yet here nobody seriously demands that such a choice be given. Only that Spanish be used more, progressively, as classroom language.

    I say, for the sake of precision.

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