Friday, March 25, 2011

Antoni Maria Badia i Margarit, my first grammarian

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catalan Grammar by Antoni Maria Badia i Margarit. Next year, it will be twenty years since I bought my own copy—the one in the picture. In 2005, I was about to obtain my Catalan language certificate, and I enrolled in the Rosa Sensat school to prepare for placement test K. On the first day of school, our teacher, Carmen Font, gave us a long list of books to be used in the course. 

That long tirade of titles would go on for an hour and a half. Out of all those dictionaries, grammars, and manuals, I was familiar only with DIEC (Dictionary of the Institute for Catalan Studies,) and the famous instruction manuals by Ruaix. Overwhelmed, during break hour I approached Carme and I told her that I did not see myself reading that whole stack of books by May—when the final test was due. 
She reassured me, “Dude, you don’t have to read them all! However, you should have an inkling of what they are about, and you need to use them as reference.” Just when I was about to reply that to in order to know what a book is about, one needs to read it, the bell rang and we resumed class.


The following day (I remember it like it was today) I went into the local bookstore with five pages full of reference works, and I headed straight for the dictionaries and grammars section. And there I saw it, waiting for me, the Grammar of the Catalan language—descriptive, normative, dialectal, and historical—by professor Badia. Without fully understanding what any of those adjectives meant, I got a copy, paid for it, and I brought it home. I sat down and, almost with reverential respect, I read the prologue and indexes and started to browse it. I was in shock. So, there are different registers of language? Besides correct and incorrect expressions, there are also those that are OK depending on who, where, and when someone uses them? A few hours later I thought I was in trouble. I had been so naive of thinking that, because I had my Catalan level D diploma, I could clearly discern what is correct and what is not!


In the following weeks I bought more dictionaries and grammars, and I immersed myself in them. My language skills began to grow gradually right under my astonished eyes. After professor Badia’s work—my first grammarian—I went on with Joan Solà’s grammar—we will never regret enough having lost him. After that, the Manual of Style by Mestre, Costa, Oliva, and Fité; and DUVC by Ginebra i Montserrat. In May of 2005 I passed the K-level exam, and now I am proofreader of Catalan. Thank you, professor Badia, for making my life more complicated!




Marc Guarro
Language professional

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