Friday, November 11, 2005

Picture a crowded street where none of the pedestrians cedes space to any other. This is Any Street, Spain. Now imagine the same scene when it’s raining and everyone has an umbrella. Anarchy. Finally, take this a stage further and visualise the effects of the pedestrians walking in and out of scaffolding on the pavement. Actually, this is misleading and unfair. As I’ve said before, although Spaniards are not usually awfully aware of the existence of others, when they’re forced to be so, they transmogrify into the politest people on earth. There’s nothing like a combination of umbrellas and scaffolding for achieving this. I feel the latter should be a compulsory street feature.

It struck me today there are similarities between the way English and Galician have developed, specifically a gap between the spoken and the formal language. The big difference, though, is that with English the fluid, flexible language of the people prevailed over that [Latin/French] of the establishment. In other words, it was bottom-up. With Galician, however, it’s the establishment in the form of the Royal Academy which is trying [and failing, of course] to impose the language from above. I suppose it keeps them in work - even if much of this seems to consist of the low intellectual challenge of devising new spellings to differentiate Galician from Spanish. This is not, I stress, to suggest Galician [and an extensive, long-established literary tradition] doesn’t exist. It’s just a jaundiced comment on the function of language Academies. I rather get the impression most Galicians would sympathise with my view.

The tales of banking inefficiency just go on and on. I ordered a credit card from my new bank. This involved several duplicate conversations and not one but two faxes of a copy of my identity card. And they still managed to get my surname wrong. So now I’ve been asked to repeat the whole process, meaning yet another fax. Why on earth did I bother when I have 2 UK credit cards? I guess it seemed a good idea at the time. The same bank has written to confirm they’ve given me a telephone banking PIN when, in fact, they couldn’t as ‘The machine isn’t working at the moment.’

Emblematic? On TV yesterday were pictures from the scene of the construction accident near Malaga, where 6 workers were killed. The coffins were being moved to the funeral home. One of the bearers was on his mobile phone.

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:

lenox said...

In our Andalucian pueblos, there are so many light-posts, trash cans, low hanging 'toldos', telegraph poles, parked motorbikes, tables, chairs, beggars, accordion players, signs, ONCE stands, trees, telephone booths, building sites, broken paving stones, old ladies with shopping carts, foreigners with maps and the local people standing and talking animatedly on corners and at other bottlenecks, it's generally easier to walk in the street.