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

3 comentaris:

CJ ha dit...

Would anybody really rush to study Catalan if Catalonia became independent tomorrow? No, not really. It's just small little regional language that nobody cares about.

Of course, it's not going to become independent, being the pipe dream of a few crazy people.

Miquel Marzabal Galano ha dit...

Well, your argument nr.1 is incorrect. The vast majority of people who go to live in small countries with regional languages with even half of the population of the Catalan countries (9 million) learn the language of the independent country they live in. For example Norway, with only 4,5 million inhabitant. Another interesting example is Finland, with also a very small amount of people. Unlike Catalonia, Finland was never an independend country. The Finish language was always a 'regional' language as you say, and it was for hundreds of years put aside by the Swedish language as Finland was part of Sweden. Later, between 1809 and 1917 Finland became part of Russia and Russian became compulsory. Only now, that Finland has become an independent country Finish is THE compulsory language in Finland, Finish is finally the language number one. No matter how small it is. The 'regional' language of Finland is now the national language of Finland. Of course there are many people who come to small countries like Finland or Holland and decide not to learn the language. People who do as you are doing now: disrespect a language because very few millions speak it.
I personally find it a very ugly attitude of yours.
Besides, it is not the amount of people you can speak a language that is important when you learn a language, what counts is with who you want to communicate. And if you want to live in a country and integrate in it, become part of it, you can only do that by learning the language of this country, no matter how few people speak it.
Your second argument that independence is 'the pipe dream of a few crazy people' is also incorrect.
Spaniards say it is a minority. The latest polls and the referendums that the Catalan citizens are organizing all around Catalonia are showing that there are millions of Catalans in favour of independence, not a 'few crazy people'.
Not at all.
The referendums are showing an exact evidence that the majority of the Catalan citizens are in favour of independence. Nearly 30% voted. But of this 30%, 95% voted in favour of independence.
This means that if another 20% came to vote and they all voted against independence, the majority of the voters would still be in favour of independence.
So your comment that we are a 'few crazy people' is completely incorrect.
Best regards.

Anònim ha dit...

Hola,soy Guatemalteco te mando saludos.Me gusta la manera que vos hablas sobre el tema.Solo quiero decirte que merecen su independencia, me gustaria aprender Catalan pero lamentablemente en Estados Unidos no hay por donde ni en la Universidad. Apenas se unas palabras que yo solo he leido. Se me hace parecido al Italiano cuando lo escucho asi que se me ha hecho facil muchas palabras. Visca Catalunya lliure!