12/01/2022

In favour of Catalan

2 min
The Minister of Culture, Natàlia Garriga, and the Secretary of Linguistic Policy, Francesc Xavier Vila, at the beginning of the press conference to present the National Pact for Language.

The incorporation of the Socialists to the National Pact for the Language, together with the governing parties (ERC and JxCat), En Comú and the CUP, is an important step to ensure that the need to give a new impetus to Catalan is addressed with a broad consensus. The situation of the language is really delicate. The fall in its use, especially among young people in urban environments, and as a whole in key sectors such as audiovisual, education, communication and labour, has meant a major setback that should be addressed with strategic intelligence and with the involvement of the maximum number of institutional, social and economic agents. There is no magic formula, nor any simple recipe, to restore the prestige and usefulness of Catalan. What is certain is that a sum of factors, from legal and political to cultural and media, will be necessary for the reconnection of the plural Catalan society with the country's historical language to become a reality in the coming years.

It is evident that the State has not played in our favor all these years, as it is also evident that there has been a general relaxation on an internal scale: not all the problems have external causes. Having said this, we cannot settle into either bitter and impotent lamentation or sterile squabbling. There is no time to lose. What is needed is to analyse the sociolinguistic situation in depth and without fear –putting unmassaged data on the table, as has begun to be done– and to implement practical and feasible initiatives in all fields, seeking complicities and synergies. Catalan must be perceived as a necessary language for the future, as a modern tool. If it is done well, it will once again have friends and new speakers.

Throughout contemporary times, Catalan has overcome difficult situations, including two dictatorships in the 20th century. And it has moved forward, it has been renewed, it has served for education and culture, for science and sport, for almost everything, unapologetically. It has been updated, renewed. And the most important thing: it has been able to avoid political manipulations and distortions, coming from outside or generated from within, and has avoided the language war that some have irresponsibly fomented and continue to foment, especially the clash with Spanish. Catalan has always aspired to be a heritage open to everyone who wants to make it their own, wherever they come from. And it must continue to be so.

The National Pact for the Language, then, is a necessary initiative, and the fact that the Socialists have joined only leaves out, in political terms, the parties of the unionist right (Vox, Cs and the PP), which represent 17.1% of the votes and 20 MPs out of a total of 135. Undoubtedly, it would be better for these self-excluded groups to desist from poisoning the debate by obsessively transferring to the Spanish public opinion the false idea that Spanish is marginalised and persecuted in Catalonia and ignoring the weakness of Catalan. But this seems difficult to change. What is important is that this permanent anomaly does not distract or condition the technical, social and political task of consolidating a new consensus that will bring Catalan out of intensive care and give it vitality again.

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