30/05/2021

Let's enjoy Catalan and learn English

2 min

A living language is always subject to change and influence. Monolingualism is increasingly the exception, which globalisation has accentuated. Catalan, like all other languages, is subject to interference from English, the global lingua franca. It has also coexisted for centuries with Spanish, with respect to which it has clear legal and economic disadvantages. By the way, this bilingual reality is much more harmonious than what the Spanish nationalist press projects with unhealthy insistence. In any case, despite the double pressure, Catalan, Catalonia's historic language, which today is only the first language of 34.3% of the country's inhabitants, enjoys a bad iron health. In other words, it is neither in danger of extinction nor is its future assured. Undoubtedly, it should be the object of greater protection and attention in key areas where its presence continues to be a minority, such as commerce (and the economic world in general), justice and the audiovisual media. In the field of education it has also lost quite a lot, partly due to the tireless task of erosion of an intransigent Spanishism with cultural plurality, which understands the prioritisation of Catalan in schools as a threat rather than as an enrichment.

This is, broadly speaking, the situation. And in the face of this reality, it is up to us, the media committed to its use and the speakers, to contribute to it. Without dramatisms and without fundamentalisms, it is a matter of defending above all this: the use, that is to say, speech and writing without complexes. It is in this spirit that we have launched the popular participation project Re/mot, born to give new life to words that have fallen into disuse, at least in the media's own standard. The good reception from the public encourages us to continue it. Following the indication of the readers, who have chosen the Catalan verb xalar (roughly translated as "enjoying something intensely") as the winning word: we want to continue xalant with the language. And we will do so, day by day in our work and with new editions of Re/mot. This Sunday's dossier of the newspaper aims to delve into the changing nature of Catalan and, in particular, the unpredictable life of words, which are born, change, die, are reborn...

In addition, and in parallel, we also focus on the deficient learning of English, the essential language to connect us with the world. Spanish is not enough. And in this area we are lagging behind: we clearly need to improve, starting at school. The low standards of teachers' level of English and unequal access to extracurricular language activities place us at the bottom of Europe, which is a great competitive disadvantage in economic terms and a cultural and vital impoverishment. From ARA, written and designed in Catalan, we do our bit for linguistic enrichment with digital editions translated into English and Spanish. Xalem, then, with Catalan, let's not give up Spanish and let's learn English properly.

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