dijous, 15 de setembre de 2011

I feel Catalan, not Spanish

Citizens' Voice Series

Elisabet Terrades boix
Degree in Political Science and Public Administration, and specialises in Public Management.
I am Catalan and I do not want to be put down by the Spaniards.

The most important thing of separatism is that it allows those involved to have a feeling of belonging to a community. However, there is a huge proportion of Catalans that do not feel Spanish, we feel Catalan. If somebody talks about Spain, I usually take part in the conversation talking as if I was talking about France, the neighboring country. A Spanish thing usually causes me indifference. The problem comes when the Spanish nationalism wants to put down Catalan people.

I remember when I was in Chile, many years ago, it was the Football World Cup of 2006 and the people around me couldn’t understand why I supported every team which was playing against Spain. Chilean people are very nationalist, so they had hard time understanding that my national team was the Catalan one and every team that was playing against Spain. I do not support the Spanish football national team because it is not representing my country, which is Catalonia, not Spain. But I support the teams who are playing against them because the law (art. 76f Spanish Sport Law) requires that all federated players have to play with the Spanish team if they are called by the Spanish Football Federation. So, even if they do not want to participate because they do not feel that is their team—the same that happens to me—they have to. Doesn´t it sound weird? That implies that if a player feels only Catalan and does not want to defend the Spanish colors, he will be penalized.

In many situations, the Spanish strategy is not innocuous, it is a strategy against Catalonia, a strategy planned to try the patience of Catalans. One example of how Spaniards underestimate Catalans for the only reason of being Catalans can be seen in this video during the World Police & Fire Games, where a group of Spaniards started to scorn their Catalan colleagues because they had showed Catalan symbols like “l’estelada” (a flag symbolizing the independence of Catalonia) and a human tower. And I just read that today that the scorn started again when they won the championship of handball and showed again some Catalan flags.

Another example happened recently with our educational system. Here, in Catalonia, we have a educational model with the Catalan as its vehicular language. It is an immersion-based educational system that encourages social cohesion between the students but specially between all Catalan citizens, regardless of their origins, preventing the discrimination of people for their lack of knowledge of Catalan. However, on February, the Spanish judicial system queried the use of Spanish as a vehicular language and the 2nd of September the Catalan government was given 2 months to apply measures to finish the immersion system. So, I don´t know what will happen in schools, but teachers might be asked to use Spanish as the vehicular language because there is only one vehicular language possible. In Spain, they want to remove our immersion system.

I mentioned only two recent examples of how Spaniards underestimate Catalans, but it is their way of life, they cannot stand that Catalonia has historically been more prosperous and the economic motor of Spain and they will end up killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. This is the main reason why I feel Catalan instead of Spanish and why I want the independence of Catalonia.

Elisabet Terrades Boix

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5 comentaris:

  • Manuel says:
    16 de gener de 2012 a les 6:43

    I lived and studied in Catalonia since childhood and can say that the immersion system - Teaching in Catalan only - achieves nothing but discriminating children of other parts of Spain.
    While 99% of people born in Catalonia can speak perfect Spanish and enjoy the opportunity to study and work in other parts of Spain, they deny this opportunity to people from other regions just because they do not speak Catalan.

    This is so unfair for most people, until the moment when Catalan politicians reach an agreement with Spain goverment, and their citizens supports it; Catalonia is a part of Spain so they should stop discriminating people who feels Spanish and live in Catalonia.

    These are the largest part, however Separatists has some hatred against whatever meaning Spain and speak louder than those who feel spanish and are comfortable with the current system -People is not going to make a demonstration to separatists to stop fighting for their cause-.

    When Separatists accepts that a lot of people in Catalonia feel Spanish and would like things to remain as they are, you may adapt your strategy to something profitable for both parties. In the meantime, we are just wasting money paying people to supposedly make stuff to "preserve catalan" with public funds and deny opportunities to people living in other areas of Spain.

    Personally - I just think it is a pity that some people in Catalonia prefers keeping this strategy rather than becoming Spain's economical reference and improving together.

    Thanks in advance for showing in your blog a different opinions.

  • carles_noguera says:
    16 de gener de 2012 a les 8:55

    Hi Manuel,

    I think you got it all wrong. The opportunity of going elsewhere to study or work is not for free, it requires some effort on the individual interested in that. One must earn it.

    I mean, yes, you're right that Catalans can easily emigrate to any part of Spain because they have the necessary preparation to do so: they have learned Spanish and are mostly completely proficient on that language. Conversely, when somebody from Castile or Andalusia or any other Spanish-speaking territory wants to establish in Catalonia, it is natural to expect him to do the same effort and learn Catalan language. Why should only one cultural group in Spain be able to travel without any knowledge investment and not the others? Do you see what I mean?

    I am myself Catalan and I like to devote a non-trivial amount of time to learning languages. Nowadays I am fluent in four, which allows me to travel, study and work in many places around the world. But, what if didn't invest that effort on such preparation? What if I decided, for instance, to emigrate to England and, being there, I would refuse to learn English. Should I expect people to adapt to my particularities, or should it rather be the other way around? Would the British government be to blame for my difficulties to bring a normal life there? I'd rather say that I would be the main responsable for my ignorance.

    Now you may, as some people like to do, argue that the big difference is that for me going to England is moving to another country, while for the Andalusian guy going to Catalonia is not. But are the political borders so relevant? I mean, what is the point nowadays in sticking so boldly to political divisions that were drawn so many years ago mostly as the result of non-democratic processes (wars, treaties signed by non-democratic leaders) which need not correspond to the actual cultural map? Maybe you should start realizing that political borders are becoming less and less important, and the world is becoming more open and cosmopolitan. Therefore its citizens nowadays would be more successful if they keep an open mind and are willing to adapt to a number of different realities. Why do you think that somebody should be able to travel all around Spain, knowing only Spanish, but you don't demand the same possibility for some hypothetic guy that would only know Catalan (or Basque, for that matter)? Do you assume that some languages are better than others? Do you think that different cultural groups must have different rights? Do you really think that some people should be entitled to ignorance, being able to travel everywhere without any learning effort? And if yes, what kind of real advantage would that be? Is it something like defending the right to ignorance? I am puzzled.

  • Miquel Marzabal Galano says:
    16 de gener de 2012 a les 10:33

    I lived in Holland ever since 1992. Many Morrocan citizens came here to Holland in the 60's and 70's and they did not get the opportunity to learn the Dutch language. As a result of this they never got mixed or accepted in the Dutch society and they were always in a situation of disadvantage. Is this what Manuel wants? Manuel should be proud and happy that Catalonia offers for free the oportunity to new citizens to learn the language. Instead of complaining he should say THANK you Catalonia for being so generous. It would be unfair to get only Spanish education. Who are the separatists here? I think the Spaniards are, they want to discriminate themselves and their children too. Luckily most Spaniards who live in Catalonia know better. They are completely happy with the education their children enjoy, for the same price they learn two languages, which helps them too to learn French, Portuguese or Italian. Every one who defends monolingual Spanish education in Catalonia is completely missing the point. You are not in Castile, you are in Catalonia. So enjoy Catalonia and if you don't like it, piss off!

  • rookie surgeon says:
    17 de juliol de 2014 a les 2:24

    I know these posts are old, but I feel compelled to express my opinion here.
    First, referring to Elisabet's comments, i just want to point out that when a football player does not want to play with the spanish national team, he is not penalized in ANY way, he is free to do whatever he wants. Also, when we (Spain) won the handball championship, the separatists that were there didn't just "show some Catalan flags", they sang songs against Spain, insulting the country and the king; so please, tell the truth as it is.
    Second, talking about the language situation, i have nothing against the catalonian tongue; but please, Carles, you can't compare the effort one has to do to learn a foreing language such as english or french, with the effort you've had to do to learn spanish, which is none; as you have learnt it as your birth language, together with catalan. Regarding the last lines you wrote, how did you end up drawing the conclusion that Manuel is defending ignorance? i think you went a little over the top there. By the way, it is ironic that you speak about the less importance of borders.
    In conclusion, i have nothing against Catalonia, though i don't understand the feeling of separatism, since i'm not a big patriot of my country either and I don’t identify myself with some piece of land; the only thing i ask for is respect, truth, and i little less paranoia from your part; you should realize that not every spaniard hates Catalonia, or catalonians, or even care about this matter.

  • YuriBCN says:
    20 de juliol de 2014 a les 0:41

    So, Rookie, you will agree with the language immersion system in Catalan schools, in which as you say, children need make no effort whatsoever to learn the Spanish language (as well as Catalan), right? So you should support the education system which makes schoolchildren proficient in both languages, giving school-leavers equal opportunity in Catalan society.
    Being born of mixed parentage (Swedish mother and Catalan father) and brought up abroad, I had to learn Spanish upon arriving in Barcelona. Perhaps I am unusually gifted (;-), but I did not consider it a problem and I have been able to develop both professionally and socially here.
    There is a huge immigrant population here in Catalonia, perhaps one of the greatest influxes in Europe in recent times, and a large proportion speak both Catalan and Spanish, as well as their own languages. They have done this because they see it as useful to integrate into our society. Why are migrants from other parts of Spain so reticent to do the same, particularly when in all fairness, they should consider Catalan part of their own heritage. If they don't, it begs the question why not? Is Catalan not an integral part of Spain's culture? Perhaps there is where the issue lies, that when some demand we should speak Spanish, Catalan does not equate as 'Spanish', but rather, something 'foreign'!
    And remember, concerning identifying yourself with "some piece of land", home is where the heart is!

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