Friday, 3 July 2009

Catalonia's Linguistic Minefield

A letter to the El Pais newspaper in Spain from a Japanese immigrant in Barcelona. The topic of the letter is the always touchy subject of linguistic politics in Catalonia. Translated by a Briton living in Poland. You couldn't make it up....

Imagine for a moment that you had emigrated to my country, Japan, with school-age children. You send your children to school under the impression that they will learn Japanese. However, when it comes to choosing a school you find that all the schools give lessons in a regional Japanese language ( Here in Japan we have regional languages, like in Spain and many other countries.) You find that no schools use Japanese as the classroom language.

I would guess that you, surprised, would ask why there are not any schools which use the offical language of the state. The authorities than tell you something about how they have to protect I don't know what, and that it is a type of pay back for someone or other who, 50 years ago, persecuted this regional language. You would be left wondering why, in Japan, you can't choose an education for your children in the official language, Japanese.

The situation described above has happened to me in Barcelona where there are currently no schools which use Spanish as the classroom language, either state or private.

In my country, everyone would understand that you,as an immigrant, would not have any interest in making sure your children learn a regional language-- only Japanese.
But here in Spain.. Don't people understand that we want to learn Spanish and not Catalan?

ATSUSHI FUKAZAWA - Barcelona - 03/07/2009

Translated by Czarny Kot 03/07/09 Source: El Pais


Frank Partisan said...

Isn't Catalan close to Spanish enough, that it should be no problem transferring skills?

My browser on my home computer, won't open your comment box.

Thank you for visiting my blog. My blog attracts for some reason, more rightists than leftys.

Czarny Kot said...

Well Catalan is very close to Spanish but that doesn't necessarily make it easy. I speak from experience-- I was fluent verbally in Spanish but for the last few years my Spanish has been replaced by Italian (don't ask)and now speaking in Spanish is difficult, although i can still read it and write it quite well.

For me the difference between Catalan and Spanish is no big deal, but I suppose a Japanese person doesn't need the headache of learning two similar, but different languages.

Thank you for visiting my blog. Regards, CK.

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