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Postre: Spain: on the Castilianization of Catalan (Paul Preston, UK) (John Eipper, USA, 04/30/10 4:28 am)
Paul Preston responds to Carmen Negrin's post of 28 April: I absolutely agree with Carmen Negrin on the reasons of common sense and politeness which should make one want to speak, where possible, the language of the country in which you find yourself. Obviously, not if you're only there for a few days. I am always amused to discover that the education departments of several enlightened English town councils provide classes in Bangladeshi and other languages of immigrants so that the English children will appreciate some of the problems faced by the immigrants, yet fail also to put on decent teaching of languages likely to be more immediately useful to those children, such as Spanish or German or Russian, etc. On the Catalan issue, I wonder if I might add a different slant on this as a foreigner who speaks and loves the Catalan language. Irrespective of the Spanish Constitution and the Catalan Statute and legislation, the fact is that the Catalan language is at a major disadvantage. Catalan television stations exist, and are rather good, but they are in a minority since all the Spanish stations are received. Most of the television watched in Catalonia is in Spanish. Most movies are shown dubbed into Spanish. Computer games come in Spanish. Most books sold are in Spanish. The consequence is that even those young people who speak Catalan as their first language are speaking a version which is ever more Castilianised. What I mean is that there are hundreds, if not thousands of Spanish words that have been legitimately castilianised but which are driving out the authentic Catalan word. To give just a few examples of commonly used words: 1) With difficulty Spanish: dificilmente; Catalan: amb prou feines; usual castilianised version: dificilment; 2) At least Spanish: como minimo; Catalan: pel cap baix; usual castilianised version: com minim; 3) First of all Spanish: primero de todo; Catalan: de bell antuvy; usual castilianised version: primer del tot. 4) Thank you Spanish: gracias; Catalan: moltes mercÃ¨s; usual castilianised version: grÃ cies. 5) Something Spanish: algo; Catalan: quelcom; usual castilianised version: algo or alguna cosa. 6) Enough Spanish: bastante; Catalan: prou; usual castilianised version: bastant. 7) Please Spanish: por favor; Catalan: siusplau; usual castilianised version: per favor. 8) How are you? Spanish: ¿Que tal?; Catalan: Com anem?; usual castilianised version: QuÃ¨ tal? 9) Use Spanish: utilizar; Catalan: fer servir; usual castilianised version: utilitzar. 10) Not much Spanish: no mucho; Catalan: no gaire; usual castilianised version: no molt. 11) Since or given that Spanish: ya que; Catalan: puix que; usually castilianised version: ja que. If the Catalan authorities do not make the effort that they are making, this beautiful language, with its superb literature, will eventually disappear. I fear it may be a losing battle. There is a wonderful novel which deals precisely with this problem by the present Spanish ambassador to London, Carles Casajuana, L'ultim hone que parlava catalÃ . JE comments: After sending his initial posting, Paul Preston wrote regarding item 7 (above); his UK spell-checker had automatically "corrected" the text to read "por favour"! This is one problem, fortunately, we wouldn't have in the US. (Yes, it's...SpAIS time!) Moltes mercÃ¨s, Paul, for the fascinating primer on Castilianization. It is surprising how distant many of the "true" Catalan adverbial phrases are from the Castilian.