I REPORT OF
LINGUISTIC COEXISTENCE IN CATALONIA
Observatory for Linguistic Coexistence
Barcelona, August 2020
The constitutional entity presents its first Report on Linguistic Coexistence, which portrays the imbalances in the linguistic and cultural policy of the Generalitat and the institutional acculturation suffered by half of Catalans. Only 5% of the Catalan government’s linguistic-cultural promotion initiatives are bilingual.
Until now it could be an intuition. Now it is already a proven reality. The First Report of Linguistic Coexistence that the Catalan Civil Society has carried out shows in detail the estrangement and habitual exclusion that Spanish suffers in cultural and linguistic policies in Catalonia. Thus, only 5% of the language promotion initiatives of the Generalitat had a bilingual base, while all those promoted by the State administrations in Catalonia were. As the report concludes, “there is unequal treatment by Catalan public administrations to citizens based on their language.”
In this way, 55% of Catalans, who have Spanish as their mother tongue, experience a process of cultural exclusion or unjustified acculturation. In fact, if we stick to Catalan public bodies, there are 9 times more linguistic-cultural promotion initiatives per capita for Catalan speakers than for Spanish speakers. During the last three months, Spanish speakers have been totally excluded from cultural aid and subsidies, and no cultural or linguistic resources were offered in Spanish. This creates a clear asymmetry, since the Ministry’s cultural projects do cover all the languages of the State.
These conclusions emerge from the first Report on Linguistic Coexistence in Catalonia, directed by the historian and cultural anthropologist Ángela Herrero and prepared jointly by a team of researchers. The work is the first initiative of the Linguistic Coexistence Observatory, which SCC launched at the beginning of 2020 as a “tool to record both public and private language policies and initiatives, and analyze their effects on equality, freedom and coexistence. , as well as to record complaints and conflicts that occur in Catalonia for reasons of language ”.
The report has paid particular attention to methodological rigor and thoroughness in the search for information. In fact, it collects both the complaints that have occurred between Catalan speakers and the claims of Spanish-speaking people, regardless of their ideology or the nature of the demand.
The I Report on Linguistic Coexistence has tried to collect all the complaints and conflicts that the linguistic problem has generated during the months of confinement, from citizens who asked for medical information in Spanish to other citizens who regretted that the Civil Guard did not attend to them in Catalan, passing due to the demands of different linguistic platforms. 65 conflict situations have been analyzed.
It is striking that the majority of complaints and claims have been made – in opposite directions – about public administrations. As Herrero points out, “it is the public administrations that cause the majority of complaints, this is the case for at least 68% of Spanish-speaking complaints and 78% of Catalan-speaking ones.” More than a social conflict, it is, therefore, an institutional problem, insofar as the institutions and their linguistic expression do not adapt to social reality.
Among Spanish speakers, the majority complaints refer to the lack of bilingualism, while the demands among Catalan speakers stem from the non-use of their own language. Among Spanish-speakers, the majority of petitions come from ordinary citizens, while among Catalan-speakers the claims of linguistic entities and political representatives predominate.
Another of the report’s conclusions is the clear asymmetry that exists in language policies in Catalonia. Section 3.1 (Linguistic and cultural initiatives) describes the exclusion of Spanish in the cultural initiatives of the Generalitat. It has only been possible to identify a bilingual contest of the Generalitat in recent months (of the FGC), which contrasts with the 68 projects to promote Catalan that were approved during 2019 and with the frenzied activity of various entities of the Generalitat to promote the language own during the time of confinement.
The Report describes in detail these initiatives developed by the Conselleria de Cultura, the Institució de les Lletres Catalanes, the General Directorate for Language Policy, the Office of Linguistic Guarantees, the Consorci per a la Normalització Lingüística, etc. The conclusion is devastating. Only 5% of the Generalitat’s language initiatives include Spanish-speakers. It is very striking that all the actions of state bodies in this area are bilingual.
Although at the municipal level the two usual languages of the Catalans have a bit more play, the imbalance and the estrangement of Spanish continues to be very notable at the municipal level and in the initiatives of the councils. Compared to the seven municipal competitions where texts in both languages were admitted, 26 monolingual competitions were found where the mother tongue of half of the Catalans was excluded. The report also describes the activities of various entities dedicated to promoting languages in Catalonia. As a whole, 69% of the literary awards in Catalonia are offered exclusively to those who present their texts in Catalan.
For all these reasons, the Catalan Civil Society demands the immediate normalization of Spanish in institutional life and in the Catalan public space. After the “linguistic normalization” that took place when democracy and self-government were restored, the time has come for a “second wave of normalization” that makes normal in the institutions what is normal and valuable for the vast majority of Catalans, their two own languages. This second linguistic normalization is an essential premise for Catalonia to regain civic and political harmony and to be able to look to the future without exclusions.