diumenge, 16 de febrer de 2014

The languages of France and their future: the Catalan language

Languages of France


Please, forgive me today, since I dare to write this article in English because I want it to be understood by anyone in the world. I'm going to talk about the situation of Catalan language, my mothertongue, within the french State. It wouldn't have much sense if I wrote it in Catalan, since the situation is far well known and close for us (the Catalans), so I'd rather write it in English and be able to communicate it to people worldwide. Please, excuse my mistakes and incorrections. I'm sure there'll be plenty of them, but I'll try my best! :)

Today, while I was roaming in Facebook it came up a picture in which there was a map of France and all languages in there spoken, which are quite a few in case you didn't know so far, despite the french State has always shown to the world a homogeneous and sole image of itself as if there was only "the language of the State" and nothing more. Obviously, the authorities and individuals who agree in such thesis are highly mistaken. 

The French and Spanish States have lot in common in this score: far away from nourishing themselves with the linguistic wealth of their States (and so, cultural, national, folk,...), far away from taking advantadge from such variety and heritage, they have always chosen the way of suppressing anything which is different or particular, puting it aside, marginating it, tearing it to pieces and discrediting as much as they could. 

In what Spanish State matters, the demographical and economical relevance of Catalonia made and has made fail the cultural, national and linguistical assimilation and genocide towards the Catalan people, even though in the roughest stages of Franco's dictatorship.

In France, however, the centralism of the capital, the discredit of the "peripheral nations" and the language shift in favor of "the language", have been far more successful. In what matters the so called Northern Catalonia (Catalunya Nord in Catalan, which is the strip of the French State where Catalan is spoken, except the Fenolleda region), such process has been and is being very successful, especially because of the least demographical and economical relevance of that region (according to the french place-names Pyrénées Orientales).
(In yellow): Catalan Countries / (In red): Northern Catalonia

But what today I'd like to remark is how the independence process of Catalonia is affecting the rest of territories where Catalan language is spoken (commonly known as Catalan Countries, or in Catalan: Països Catalans). The thing is, that a few days after the President of Catalonia, Artur Mas, after agreeing with a wide majority of the parties and members of the Parliament of Catalonia, announced publically the question to be asked and the date of the Referendum of Independence, which is meant to happen on 9th November of this year, the french government said he would reform, change and update their country's Consitution, so there would be more respect and consideration towards the peripheral nations and languages.

Sure the French have always been smarter than the Spaniards. They can tell from afar what may happen to Northern Catalonia once Catalonia itself become independent.

Nevertheless though, I consider highly positive any of steps ahead done towards protecting and perpetuating the cultural and linguistical heritage of the French State, as there have been huge efforts to keep Catalan language alive in that territory, thanks to organisations and schools which, often with economical difficulties, but with a satisfying amount of students and a more than appropriate education system, are struggling day after day to convey the language in which over 10 million people worldwide can communicate.  

Bilingual road sign welcoming to Northern Catalonia
After all I have said so far, I must say I encourage all the governments from the place and the country to make sure those peripheral languages have the same opportunities, status and consideration as "the language" has. I encourage them to love themselves a little more, to learn to appreciate their heritage, to be more clever, because it's widely proven that multilingual minds are far more clever and smart. And, at last, if the day comes, when Catalonia is already a sovereign State and Northern Catalonia considers and feels like joining his siblings from the south, I hope and encourage the French government to respect the will of that people. 

But before stepping to much forward in the time, I mainly hope the words the French government say become actions and don't remain only as words.

Please: I invite you to participate in this topic. If you feel like contributing into it, feel free to write as many comments as you want at the bottom of this article. I'll gladly read and answer to them if there's need to.