31 ene. 2014

Scorched Language Policy, by Enric Sòria

Scorched language policy
Enric Sòria

On 21 January the termination of Catalunya Ràdio broadcasts into the Valencian Country (País Valencià) added insult to the injury as the Catalan TV3 has been banned and the local TV and Radio Canal 9 were both shut down. In the words of Vicent Climent’s, spokesperson for the Vice-chancellors of Valencian universities, as of today “there is no audiovisual broadcaster, whether public or private, covering the whole of the country’s territory broadcasting in our own language”. This is a very serious matter. Apart from a handful of municipal broadcasters, in a very short time the language of the Valencian people has lost its presence in the most influential mainstream media, radio and TV.

The Deputy Leader of the Valencian Government (Generalitat), José Císcar, has claimed his government has nothing against Catalunya Ràdio, but that it is against illegal broadcasting – that is, against the signal being received here in the País Valencià. The illegality occurs mainly because the government has for decades done their best to make it illegal, as they did with TV3, by hindering any possible sensible solution to the issue. However, there are at present about 300 radio stations in the País Valencià in either an illegal status or a legal loophole, yet none of them have been silenced. No leniency has been shown to Catalunya Ràdio. Mr Císcar also claimed that radio stations in the Valencian language can obviously exist in the País Valencià only, where the language is spoken. By the same token, if Spain is the country where Spanish is spoken, Latin American books, films and TV series should have been banned, as it is not possible for them to be in the very same language as that spoken by Spaniards. When it is about the Spanish world, the Popular Party know perfectly well that borders and states are one thing, but languages are another. But accepting the fact that Catalans and Balearics speak the language spoken by Valencians, just like a denizen of, say, Teulada in Alacant? NO WAY! One feels such arguments are but examples taken straight out of the Bad-Faith Book – which in José Císcar’s case is not at all impossible – and the issue here has been to switch our own language off the radio.

Doubtful arguments were proffered in the case of Canal 9, too. The Generalitat Premier himself, Alberto Fabra, asserted it was necessary to close down the broadcaster, in order to avoid shutting down schools. Yet schools have been closed down all the same, most particularly those schools that offered tuition in Valencian. That is to say: no TV, no radio, and increasingly less education in the local language. This is the way our government complies with the constitutional mandate of rendering special respect and protection to the native languages in every autonomous community. For a very long time now, the kind of respect and protection the Generalitat renders the local language has by far no correspondence elsewhere in Spain. That is why our country is the only one where the use of the local language keeps decreasing. Just the opposite of what is happening to our language in Catalonia or the Balearic Islands (or in Galicia, the Basque Country and Navarre with their respective local languages). It is here and only here where the language is evidently becoming an endangered language; this situation is absolutely the government’s doing. But recently, the mistreatment that the language of the Valencian people suffers at the hands of our own institutions has worsened. It must also be pointed out that the Popular Party has recently begun a process whereby the Balearic Islands are fast being deprived of the common language, using the very same methods we are accustomed to here, and also in the area Aragon where our language is spoken – where, it needs to be reminded, our language has been officially reduced to a miserable acronym.

Thus, it is necessary to ask ourselves what our language has done to these people. Why do they have this fixation with the language, to the extent that they have obliterated it from the audiovisual map of the country and seem intent on wiping it out from schools and elsewhere? There are those who suspect this hastened campaign of de-valencianising the country is a reaction against the growth of the Catalan push for sovereignty. Once the language has been eradicated, the separatist virus will also be neutralised. It is not unthinkable that something like this might be the case (with these people, one must not discard any options). While we have been speaking Valencian for centuries, it is evident that the pro-independence option amongst us has been supported by a negligible minority. Moreover, the marginalisation, suppression and the various endeavours to achieve the eradication of the language occurred much earlier than these recent political trends. There has to be something deeper to the contempt and fierce dislike they show for our language. Why does it annoy them so much? A possible explanation is that, in the notion of Spain these people have had their brains engraved with – an idea diametrically opposed to the Swiss model – languages that according to the Constitution deserve respect and protection should in fact not exist at all, and the sooner they become extinct, the better. One language, one nation. This is the idea they have in their mugs. The Valencian branch has proven it can out-Herod Herod; it must be acknowledged that their tenacity and efficiency are extraordinary. They don’t need the language, and therefore they stifle it.

The original article can be found here.

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