dimecres, 11 d’abril de 2012

Lip dub of record proportions in Northern Catalonia to vindicate language rights

Catalan is not just spoken in Spain. It is also spoken in France. For decades, Catalan speakers in Northern Catalonia (as some people call the part of Catalonia under French rule) have fought for their linguistic rights. Catalan is not an official language there because of the French Constitution. The government in Paris has always refused to sign the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) adopted in 1992 under the auspices of the European Council.
Just recently, in the middle of the French presidential election campaign, some of the minority cultures in France joined efforts to ask for linguistic rights. On march 31st there were simultaneous demonstrations in ten cities. The biggest ones were in Tolosa de Lengadòc/Toulousse (Occitania) with 25,000 people, and Kemper (Brittany) with ten thousand demonstrators. Other demonstrations took place in Baiona (Basque Country), Aiacciu (Corsica), Lille (French Flanders), Metz (Lorraine), In-nsi/Annecy (Arpitania), Poitiers, and Strasbourg.

In Perpinyà, the biggest city in Northern Catalonia, seven thousand people gathered to achieve a lip dub world record. The last lip dub record had also happened in Catalonia—a lip dub in Vic asking for Catalonia’s independence. This time the song in the lip dup was Parlem català by Jordi Barre, a well-known North Catalan singer now deceased. His daughter, member of the political party Unitat Catalana, is a local councillor in Perpinyà. You can read the chronicle of the event here.

The first Catalan schools were founded in 1976 by volunteers with no government support. In 1998 there were 8,631 students studying Catalan. Four years later, there were 11,175 students. Last week the regional government released the most recent figures: 13,411 students. More and more people are interested in learning Catalan—as the success of the lip dub shows.
Organizers of the event expected 6,000 people to show up at the lip-dub. The event was joined in by several Catalan popular culture associations, like castlers, sardana dancers, gegants and capgrossos, correfocs, and trabucaires. All these typical Catalan traditions remain very alive in Northern Catalonia among the young and old.

The main demand of the organizers is that Catalan become an official language. Furthermore, they are asking for recognition of the so-called “regional languages” in France, granting them minimum rights, like a small slot on public TV or in public schools. Also, they demand that the French government sign the ECRML.

According to some, Catalonia is just a Spanish region. However, the very existence of Northern Catalonia contradicts such an absurd concept.

Jordi Vàzquez
Credit photos: La Bressola, L'Independant and @xcarolr

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