Jordi Gracia García is an essayist who has dedicated several books to the intellectual history of Spain in the twentieth century. Professor of Spanish literature at the University of Barcelona, he practices literary and social criticism in various newspapers in Barcelona and Madrid.
Although I am not passionate about language issues, this Thursday I threw myself passionate to read the article that Rudolf Ortega published in this newspaper’s Notebook under an incendiary headline: “Socialist goodbye to immersion.” Immersion is linguistics and socialism is supposed to be that of the PSC of Miquel Iceta and Meritxell Batet, so for me it was an absolute and highly disturbing scoop. Either the PSC had lost its mind in a bad drink, or the reality had taken a sudden and unexpected turn, particularly after the Catalan Citizen disaster.
Having read the article, things have returned to the complex order of bilingual reality in Catalonia. The difficult thing is to understand Rudolf Ortega’s reading of the PSC program document for the 14th party congress. From the document I don’t know how Ortega deduces the renunciation of linguistic immersion as a successful experiment, supported in Catalonia massively and applauded even by international experts and technicians.
What I do not see is how one can deny the instrumental and ideological use that independence has made of the language in Catalonia.
However, this time, and to my great perplexity, the political use of immersion and Catalan does not come from the neo-Spanish front pages of media tired of Catalan demands, nor does it come from editorialists at ABC and El Mundo who are in defense of Spanish but from a competent linguist, an expert in Catalan and also Catalan, such as Rudolf Ortega.
There is no discussion about the success of linguistic immersion, neither reasonable nor unreasonable. It has worked basically well for thirty years and has guaranteed an incessant, quantitative and qualitative growth of the use and knowledge of Catalan in Catalonia, without having prevented or attenuated or overlapped the use or knowledge of Spanish in Catalan society.
But in the same way that many of us have been asking for a careful and cold modification of some points of a Constitution drafted four decades ago, it is not unreasonable to also ask for the review of the negative, harmful or undesirable effects that the happy implementation of a successful implementation of a language immersion law that has been in operation for so many years.
If the PSC is recommending, as I believe, the technical and depoliticized study of this reality of success, welcome is the demand to avoid that we convert linguistic immersion into one of these untouchable and sacred relics that no one can invoke under penalty of divine punishment.
It is a good fortune to enjoy a bilingual society that advises to check for possible mismatches
Not only can we analyze the behavior of this law when we all, or the vast majority in Catalonia, certify its success in extending the use of Catalan and not preventing or limiting the use of Spanish. In fact, it is the same good fortune to enjoy a bilingual society with a general, cultural and customary nature, which suggests checking the possible imbalances, deficiencies or imbalances that you have created, particularly in view of the demographic and linguistic irregularity of the Catalan territory. Part of the bilingual wealth of Catalonia consists in knowing how to correct or amend the potential imbalances and assume in a shared way that in areas where the domain of Castilian is massive or very majority, it is necessary to reinforce teaching in Catalan, and in areas of linguistic hegemony of Catalan is it is preferable to increase the exposure and use of Spanish. The best and most legitimate reason I find to review and examine the operation of immersion is to guarantee the comparable and competent use of the two languages of Catalonia, or at least the two languages with which the vast majority of Catalans earn today. lifetime.
I would not like to have to feel Fernando Savater again, as happened last week in Seville, to censor the Catalans so that we rob them of the poor in the Castilian language, and I would not have to repeat, as I did in Seville after hearing Savater, that the Catalans we have two languages, for rich and poor. Contrary to what is usually repeated, Catalan is not a language without a State: its State is the Generalitat, and it is its competence and the obligation to guarantee the use and knowledge of one language and the other to improve bilingualism that lives happily between us, without serious incidents or social questioning of a fortunate and fully mature reality: without fear of a maintenance review.