dijous, 5 de febrer de 2009

Reason 15: Independence, the only way to ever hear 'bon dia' out of the mouth of an Egyptian tourist guide: the only way to exist abroad


Today reading a blog of a Catalan citizen who lives in Egypt I read:
“in Sharm al-Sheikh and in Cairo you can find some touristic guides who studied Spanish (Castillian is not used by anyone outside of our territory [the Catalan countries]). They say that for them, to learn the Catalan ‘dialect’ is of no use because it would not bring them any benefit”.*

Even though the Catalan language is ‘only’ spoken by 9 million inhabitants, the fact is that never anyone would say such a thing of the Swedish, Dutch or Danish language (other languages with more or less the same amount of speakers as Catalan).

I am positive that many Egyptian tourist guides have even learned some words of Dutch to impress the Dutch tourists. So why do they make an effort to impress Dutch citizens and don’t bother making any efforts for Catalan tourists?

As you can imagine, the answer to this question is very easy: Catalonia is not an independent state, the language of the state Catalans belong to is Spanish. This is the way foreigners all over the world see it. And this is the way most Spaniards see it too. This is also the way Spanish embassies function. There is no trace of any other language than the Spanish one.
The Catalan language, no matter what it is, outside of Catalonia has the status of a dialect (in Catalonia just a little bit more than that). Thousands of Dutch citizens go to Barcelona to learn ‘the language’, and when they say this they mean the Spanish language.
So, in Catalonia the state language is Spanish.
Without a state the Catalan language will always be very difficult to protect. It will always be a struggle.
The entire world sees the Catalan language (if they have any idea of it at all) as something useless that bothers them.

The day that Catalonia becomes an independent state, this day no one in the world will have any doubt about the importance of learning Catalan when coming to live in Catalonia or to learn some Catalan words to impress Catalan tourists. Being the language of an independent state, The Catalan language will enhance its status all over the world automatically. It will also increase its presence enormously. Catalan embassies with Catalan ambassadors will be located in capital cities around the world with its Catalan staff that will make them run. The international communication with Catalonia will be partially in Catalan language and no multinational will even think of not offering their products in the language of the Catalan people. They will speak and study the ‘Catalan market’, instead of neglecting us including us into the Spanish (=Castilian) market. Translators all around the world will be needed, to translate thousands of texts or to translate simultaneously conversations with citizens of the Catalan state. The Catalan literature, the film industry and other arts will get a lot more of attention, in Catalonia and abroad. Today Catalans are paying taxes to promote abroad the Spanish (=Castilian) culture. Catalan books, Catalan movies will participate to the constellation of movies and books of all other states and will be much more likely to win international prices.
The day we are independent the entire world will know that we exist. They will know that Barcelona is not the second city of Spain, but the capital of Catalonia. They will learn that the language of Catalonia is Catalan. Only this fact will change dramatically the efficiency of our (nowadays almost useless) struggle to survive.
Thousands of foreigners will come to Barcelona to study ‘the language’ (the Catalan language, of course!).
This day, when we go to Egypt on vacation they will not say to us “amygo” , “bienos dias”, “por fabor” to try to please us. They will say “amic”, “bon dia”, “si us plau” to make us feel welcome.

Today to hear an Egyptian tourist guide say something in Catalan to us sounds to us like science fiction. Tomorrow it will be a reality.

*Source is in Catalan: http://blogs.ccrtvi.com/catalanspelmon.php?itemid=17063#nucleus_cf