Interesting article in the Irish Times on Monday examining attempts by the anti-separatist regional government in the Balearic Islands to degrade the use of the Catalan language in favour of Castilian Spanish, the language of the state:
“Efforts by the Balearic regional government to dilute the use of the Catalan language on the islands have led to a judicial battle, massive protests and even accusations of “cultural genocide” by opponents.
The regional administration, headed by the conservative Partido Popular (PP), introduced a new law last year which ensures that fluency in Catalan is no longer a requisite for Balearic civil servants in most sectors.
“This is an attack on the language that is included in the Balearic regional statute,” said Pilar Castro, a Socialist Party spokeswoman, in an interview with The Irish Times.
Although the Balearic Islands are not part of Catalonia, the Catalan language has long been used there.
In the 13th century, the Catalan empire, led by the kings of Aragon, stretched south along Spain’s eastern coast and across the Mediterranean Sea to include the Balearic archipelago that contains Majorca, Ibiza and Minorca. Today, Catalan – or variants of it – is still spoken in all those areas, as well as Spanish.
In the Balearic Islands, fluency in Catalan was enshrined as a requisite for civil servants in 1986. The Socialists and other opponents of the new law are particularly incensed that the PP did not seek a consensus when drawing it up.
The Balearic language war has also spread into the area of education. Many teachers and parents of schoolchildren have been on an indefinite strike since September 16th, in protest at another law created by the regional government, this time introducing a trilingual educational system for public school students.
Under the scheme, children must study their curriculum in Catalan, Spanish and English – with equal time given to each language. Previously, classes were split between Catalan and Spanish, with more emphasis on the former.
The PP, meanwhile, argues the trilingual system will offer pupils a more rounded education, preventing the marginalisation of the Spanish language in the process.
The party’s education spokeswoman for the region, Ana María Aguiló, recently told the Diario de Mallorca newspaper that “Spanish has been under threat in the Balearics but now that’s stopping.”
However, her assertion that “we need to ‘Hispanicise’ [students] if they don’t know Spanish” has drawn a furious response from nationalists in the Balearics and Catalonia itself.”
Meanwhile in Scotland some in the anglophone media establishment are challenging the already minuscule resources dedicated to serving the educational needs of the Scottish-speaking population in the northern Gaelic nation, as can be seen in this unambiguously slanted report from STV:
“But questions remain over the relevance our native language has in modern day Scotland.”
I’m sure the tens of thousands of Scots who speak the Scottish language or otherwise identify with it might have their own questions over biased reporting of their minority community in the news media.