dimecres, 23 de setembre de 2009

Reason 19: Only way to have 500 magazines in Catalan

The picture you see here will be the normal situation in a Catalan magazine store in the future. Today this is fiction.

I was in the airport of Barcelona walking around and entered a magazine store. There were so many magazines. There are magazines for any aspect of human life, for each sport, for furniture, interior design, hair, fashion, crime, gossip, etc.
Seeking for magazines in my mother tongue I realized that 99,9% of the magazines in this store were all in Spanish language. I asked the cashier if she knew how many magazines there were in her shop but she did not know the answer. I only found two magazines in Catalan language. Hundreds in Spanish.
I made a picture with my mobile phone and left. I had found a new reason why Catalonia must become an independent state in Europe.
Once in Amsterdam I sat down behind my computer and made a search to find out how many Dutch magazines there are. 1859 magazines, all in Dutch language.
I have been in several countries and I know that independent states, even with less inhabitants than Catalonia, have several magazines, all in the state’s main language.
In the Netherlands (country that became independent from Spain in 1581 and as a result of that enjoyed an incredible prosperity during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) there are 1859 maganizes, all in Dutch. With a population of 16 million and a similar size to Catalonia, it is compulsory to learn the Dutch language in order to become naturalized in the Netherlands . Sweden has about 460 magazines, a population of only 9 million inhabitants. In Sweden the Swedish language is even compulsory to get a job, even without getting naturalized. Obviously Catalonia does not enjoy the power of decision to protect its culture as independent states have. But even more important than this is the automatic status a culture gets once it ha the status of an independent country.
This because most multinationals divide the world markets by the states in which they operate and do not contemplate the stateless cultures unless they have a strong federal characer, such as Belgium. An clear example of this is Apple computers, that has its headquarters in Madrid and neglects repetedly Catalan consumer needs, even though more people speak Catalan than Norwegian or Finish. Companies that develop their markets from a cultural point of view will be more succesful and will do better business because they adapt better to the cultural realities of each cultural area. Unfortunately most multinationals don’t do that. They see us as part of the Spanish market. And as long as we purchase their magazines in Spanish language we are being our own enemy. Catalan people should not purchase maganizes or papers in Spanish language in order to protect and stimulate the development of magazines in Catalan language. As long as we act as part of the Spanish market we will never be able to develop a normal situation. On the other hand it is too easy to blame only the Catalans for this, after all, we want to live a normal life and enjoy life. Even though many of us might prefer a Catalan magazine or Catalan Wii games, we do end up purchasing them in Spanish language rather than not purchasing them at all.
This unfortunate situation affects badly the development of the Catalan language.
Magazines are automatic development language tools and a language without magazines is an unhealthy language. As a result of this many Catalans have to use Spanish for words they don’t know in Catalan because they simply never appear anywhere, car parts, all kind of specialised products are only labelled in Spanish language and the magazines that talk about these products are only in Spanish. This makes Catalan language poor and dependent on Spanish language (and French in north Catalonia).
The independence of Catalonia will solve this problem in just a day! The day we have an independent state we’ll be able to develop an own market with a Catalan point of view in which the Catalan language will be able to develop itself independently from the Spanish or French languages. And this will help the economy too.
Obviously nor Norway (that got independence from Sweden in 1905) or Finland (that got independence from Russia in 1917) would have as many magazines as today in own language if they still were regions of Sweden and Russia respectively. Only independence will save the Catalan language and its normal use in society.