Language Policy
Culture 12/01/2022

The keys to the new National Pact for Language

The challenge is to reach a consensus and straighten out Catalan's critical situation of linguistic emergency

2 min

BarcelonaFor some time now, different voices have been calling for a new National Pact for Language. The data show that we are facing a new linguistic emergency, especially in the classrooms, where Catalan is in danger of becoming a mere ornament. Today, Catalan Culture minister Natàlia Garriga Ibáñez and Secretary of Linguistic Policy Francesc Xavier Vila presented the bases of a pact that, according to the Catalan Culture Department, aims to reach a social and political consensus on Catalan and "reach a consensus on the policies necessary to ensure the present and future of the language, an instrument of social cohesion".

The challenge is to straighten out a rather adverse situation. Today only 19.6% of Barcelona's 15-29 year-olds speak Catalan regularly: for many, the only contact with the language is in the classroom (36.1% of the population over 15 years of age in Catalonia speaks Catalan regularly). The truth is that linguistic immersion is being ever less complied with (especially in secondary schools) and that Catalan is seldom used in universities. Garriga admitted that there are "many indicators that the linguistic model is showing signs of exhaustion" and that it has to adapt to the new times. Vila was more forceful: "The language is in a complex and delicate situation, only 53% of young residents in Barcelona speak Catalan and the use of Catalan has regressed in areas such as the health and justice systems."

Garriga has insisted that the pact has to be inclusive but that the political parties involved have to assimilate three elements: "recognising the unity of the Catalan language, sharing that it is in a complex and delicate situation, and the need to act to reverse the situation."

The planned timetable is to present an academic report, which has been prepared by seven language experts whose names have not been revealed, with a diagnosis of the situation this January, and to hold a first meeting in February with all the agents involved. From here, a participative process would begin and informative sessions would be held in different towns and proposals would be collected, also online. The objective is to have the definitive text of the National Pact for Language ready by this December. The budget for this year and for the elaboration of this plan is €345,000.

The areas on which the plan will act, according to Vila, will be: public administrations, education and research, social cohesion and reception, culture, audiovisual and media, the digital and technological world, the socioeconomic and labour world, health, leisure, sports and associations, territorial relations, the European and international sphere, and the quality of the language.