Sunday, November 06, 2005

Commenting on the Telefonica takeover of the UK phone company O2, a Spanish friend has suggested their money might be better spent on providing lines requested by [potential] customers living as close as 10 km to major cities in Spain. Fat chance. Not sexy enough.

From comments made by readers and friends, there appear to be several forms of the Galician language in operation:-
1. Literary Galician. Unintelligible to most
2. Academic Galician. Also largely indecipherable. May be very similar to 1. The preserve of the Royal Academy
3. Popular Galician. Understood by virtually everyone in the region and spoken by a significant percentage, albeit with major differences between provinces. And between the coast and the mountains.
4. TV Galician. This is a mixture of all these and is spoken by ambitious young people who didn’t start to speak the language until their 20s and so have a vocabulary and a [‘Castillano’] accent that amuse the real speakers.

If you're bored with my endless bank stories, you might want to o’erleap this paragraph …. On my last trip to the bank, when I learned of the poor return on my 3-year investment, I asked for a breakdown of the calculation so I could check why it was much less than I’d expected from good stock market growth. The reaction suggested I’d sought access to a state secret. In the end, I was given a photocopy of half a page and told I shouldn’t reveal I’d got it. It turned out to be simply a statement of the method of calculation but gave me no idea at all of the numbers for interest rate changes and stock market growth. In fact, the same data was in the contract I signed 3 years ago. This gives a pretty good idea of how Spanish banks treat their customers. When I first went into business 30 years or so ago, it was called ‘mushroom management’. Probably still is.

I read today that 50% of the sub-Saharans that get to Spain are bent on passing through to countries in which their language is spoken. The prime target is France. This must be very welcome news to President Chirac and his government, as they face the 11th consecutive night of rioting by disadvantaged young Frenchmen of African descent. No wonder they’re upset about President Zapatero’s policy of legalising the presence of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants in Spain.

It’s funny how the fight for EU funds can change perspective. Galician politicians think its unforgivable of the British to want to cling to the rule that gives them a rebate, whilst loudly demanding that the rules be changed to ensure continuance of subventions to Spain. They accuse Mr Blair of destroying the cohesion of the EU but seem to have no qualms about endorsing changes in the relationship between Madrid and the regions which might just destroy domestic cohesion. Strange business, politics.

For new readers – If you’ve arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, you might find my non-commercial guides interesting – at colindavies.net

1 comment:

gxangel said...

I watched a talk show on Galician TV and noticed that the hostess posed her questions in Galician but the musician being interviewed respond entirely in Spanish. A not uncommon scenario in bilingual societies, but very telling all the same.