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PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post Independence Movements in Scotland and Catalonia
Created by John Eipper on 09/08/14 1:58 AM

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Independence Movements in Scotland and Catalonia (Enrique Torner, USA, 09/08/14 1:58 am)

These referenda for independence are unsettling for me. In the case of Catalonia, unlike WAISers Anthony Candil and Jordi Molins, I am against.

However, I have to admit I have not been following this process, leading to a referendum on November 9. However, from what I gather from limited information from Wikipedia, 46% of Catalans (as of March 2014) want independence, while 32% oppose it. So they have a majority, but not an overwhelming one. So what's going to happen to the 32%? Are they going to be forced to become Catalans, instead of Spanish?

I would appreciate it if those who have direct knowledge of this process would explain to WAISers how this referendum has come along, what will the consequences of a "yes" result be, is independence really feasible, given the opposition of the Madrid government, how long would the process take (if it were to happen), and anything else they can think of. This is really historic, so we could all benefit from an in-depth history of this stage in Catalonia/Spain.

JE comments: I have a follow-up post from Jordi Molins in the queue. The biggest question: we've learned from John Heelan that London will allow the Scots to secede if they choose to.  Is this also the case for Madrid and Catalonia?  Let's remember 1861 in the US:  secession wasn't taken lightly by Lincoln in Washington.

A related question: Jordi told us before that an independent Catalonian state would be officially bilingual, Catalan and Castilian. Do the Castilian speakers have any assurance that this will always be the case? I can envision independent Catalonia eventually transitioning to Catalan and English/French as the languages of school instruction.  The only thing stopping this, as far as I can surmise, is Barcelona's important role as a Spanish-language publisher.


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  • Bilingualism and an Independent Catalonia (Jordi Molins, -Spain 09/09/14 4:03 AM)
    When commenting Enrique Torner's post of 8 September, JE wrote:

    "Jordi told us before that an independent Catalonian state would be officially bilingual, Catalan and Castilian. Do the Castilian speakers have any assurance that this will always be the case? I can envision independent Catalonia eventually transitioning to Catalan and English/French as the languages of school instruction. The only thing stopping this, as far as I can surmise, is Barcelona's important role as a Spanish-language publisher."


    Well, there is another thing stopping this: 100% of Catalans are Spanish speakers! I would never ever permit losing one of my languages.  An overwhelming majority of Catalans think the same on this.  Let me recall the average level of Spanish language knowledge of Catalan students is above the corresponding average in Spain (one of the many advantages of bilingualism).


    The Catalan independence process is much more about building a new, better country rather than about old-fashioned nationalism. This statement can be quantified: CEO (the biggest polling institution in Catalonia) found that the first reason for about 75% of Catalans in favor of independence was "building a better country."  Only 9.5% gave the argument of "nationalist feelings" and 8.3% cited "sense of identity."  Instead, those against independence gave as the first reason, with 31.5%, "maintaining the Unity of Spain," and 14.3%, "sense of identity." Arguments about "building a better country" were basically negligible for the no camp.


    Enrique Torner asked:


    So what's going to happen to the 32%? Are they going to be forced to become Catalans, instead of Spanish?


    That question has already been answered officially. As it could not be otherwise, citizens will be able to choose among Spanish only, Catalan only and double citizenship. This is an obvious improvement from the current situation: citizens' freedom increases.


    Also, let me highlight the 46% / 32% figures (and these are not my figures, the higher one in favor of yes) are not adjusted with respect to participation. Final results in any consultation or election are always net of this. As a consequence, the 46% would become a 59%.


    JE comments:  Jordi Molins is in my choir about bilingualism.  I always tell my students that studying Spanish is an excellent way to understand English better.  Still, I can see an eventual erosion of Castilian in an independent Catalonia.  Every Catalan speaks Spanish now, but will this be the case in a couple of generations?


    A lot of foreign students travel to Barcelona to learn Spanish.  I imagine the language institute lobby is not in favor of Catalonia's independence.  Conversely, "study abroad" schools in Salamanca, Segovia, Granada and elsewhere must be all for it.

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