Antoni Puigverd, 30 November 2021
The head of the demonstration for linguistic immersion in Catalonia in a protest in March 2018 – Àlex Garcia
By linking the Catalan language to political positions, a paradoxical result is obtained: a good shock force is created, but the language is damaged. What we now see wholesale, already happened at the end of the 70 with the Avui. That newspaper was possible thanks to the crowdfunding of thousands of Catalans. When opting for the pujolism, many of them left. Avui was quite a useful instrument … for nationalism, not for the language. The story of Catalan TV3 is similar. Its audience is very loyal (used to comedians who amuse themselves talking about “dogs” trained to “smell Spanish”). It claims to be the first chain in Catalonia. It has lost the initial objective: to promote the use of Catalan. The chains in Spanish pass 80%. A redoubt of 13 to 16%? Useful for an idea of Catalonia, useless for Catalan.
Forged in the fire of a political vision, a numerous linguistic sphere can be created, of great militant intensity; at the same time that a large pool of actual and potential speakers is expelled. A large language can afford to violate potential speakers. English, like Spanish, Arabic or Chinese, can allow itself many negative links: contempt or indifference for other cultures, the arrogance of its speakers who take it for granted that everyone should understand them. A not suspicious policy of proximity with the Catalan, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, explained at a lunch with journalists from La Vanguardia that she understood Catalan susceptibilities because her mother-in-law, a Portuguese woman with a shop open in a city in the country of fado, complained of the impertinence of many Spaniards: they took it for granted that she had to attend to them in Spanish. The strong do not have to exert themselves; his empathy errors do not penalize. The weak must be intelligent and seductive or they will pay for its weakness.
The tyranny of the audience in the digital world: there is the linguistic knot
Catalan’s difficulties are twofold. 1) The integration of African immigration is carried out in Spanish, while the Latin American does not give way to Catalan. 2) Digital platforms, social networks and the internet in general, conditioned by the massive factor (likes, virality, audience), are reducing the field of precarious languages such as Catalan and even medium-sized languages such as Italian or French. Languages that bring together speakers in the hundreds of millions are imposed. I am not saying that the strength of Spanish is not also political. But now it is mostly a product of the tyranny of the audience in the digital world. If a young man from Barcelona wants to be famous on TikTok, he chooses Spanish even if they are pro-independentists at home. There is the knot. That requires a good diagnostic study and then a plan to promote Catalan as a prestigious language. Plan that, to be effective, should be unitary: forcing Catalans to choose between Catalan or Spanish sentiment may be an effective political tactic in the short term, but it is a linguistically suicidal strategy.