LINGUISTIC MYTHS: SPAIN. Marco Neves (@marconeves)

Marco Neves (@marconeves)

Marco [email protected] at NOVA FCSH. Translator at Eurologos. PhD on Translation Studies. Author of books about language.

If you can read Spanish, just try and find the huge number of Spaniards who sincerely believe Spanish is in real trouble inside Spain. They live in an alternative reality where Basque, Catalan and Galician are replacing Spanish in some regions.

In fact, the opposite is happening: Spanish in now spoken by more people as their main language than ever before.

Those panicky comments by Spanish speakers (I guess they are a minority, but a really vocal minority) seem to imply that a person either speaks one language or another. What happened to the fine human capacity to speak many languages?

Well, Basques, Catalans and Galicians use that capacity every day: most of them speak two languages — and when they speak only one it is normally Spanish.

In reality, Spanish is steamrolling the other languages throughout Spain. By teaching Basque, Catalan and Galician to children, the speakers of these languages are simply trying to save them, while also using (and teaching) Spanish.

So, we have monolingual speakers worried about bilingual speakers because those bilinguals insist on having their children learning two native languages instead of one. What a problem that is!

And if you ask those worried monolingual Spanish speakers if they would ever consider having their children learn Catalan (or Basque, or Galician), just as Catalan children learn Spanish, they would look at you as if you were proposing teaching Estonian to their children.

In fact, I think they would prefer to teach Estonian to their children. Anything but one of the other languages of Spain.

Aquests comentaris de pànic dels hispanoparlants (suposo que són una minoria, però una minoria realment sorollosa) semblen donar a entendre que una persona o parla una llengua o parla altra. Què va passar amb la fina capacitat humana de parlar molts idiomes?

Doncs bé, bascos, catalans i gallecs fan ús d’aquesta capacitat cada dia: la majoria d’ells parlen dues llengües, i quan parlen només una sol ser l’espanyol.

En realitat, l’espanyol està atropellant a les altres llengües en tota Espanya. En ensenyar el basc, el català i el gallec als nens, els parlants d’aquestes llengües simplement intenten salvar-les, al mateix temps que utilitzen (i ensenyen) l’espanyol.

Així que tenim als monolingües preocupats pels bilingües perquè aquests bilingües insisteixen que els seus fills aprenguin dues llengües maternes en lloc d’una. Quin problema!

I si els preguntes a aquests monolingües preocupats pel castellà si es plantegen que els seus fills aprenguin català (o basc, o gallec), igual que els nens catalans aprenen castellà, et mirarien com si els estiguessis proposant ensenyar estonià als seus fills.

De fet, crec que preferirien ensenyar estonià als seus fills. Qualsevol cosa menys una de les altres llengües d’Espanya.

Marco Neves (@marconeves)

Lecturer at NOVA FCSH. Translator at Eurologos. PhD on Translation Studies. Author of books about language.