This is my second blog of the day. And – as current tradition has it – it’s on the theme of Galician nationalism. What I’m doing here – for those who retain interest – is laying out my manifesto on the subject. After that, I’m going to give it a rest. Partly because I have visitors this week and partly because, to be honest, I’m getting bored by it. So, what follows is a list of general principles which - taken together - would define the framework within which I would devise specific policies for Galicia, if I were unfortunate enough to have the responsibility of unravelling this Gordian knot. In this manifesto, I use ‘nationalist’ and ‘Nationalist’ in the way I recently defined them:-
The most important thing is the future of Galicia, not its past. The possibly arcane issue of whether Galicia is a nation or a Nation should not be allowed to go on being a hostage to fortune when Galicia faces some very tough challenges.
Things need to move forward democratically.
It’s not very relevant that Galicia was, according to Wikipedia, an independent nation for a few short years several centuries ago. Or that a group of upper class scions rebelled against someone either before or after this. Or that any other selected historical item happened or didn’t happen. One thing is for sure, Galicia has certainly not been an independent nation for a very long time and isn’t now.
Nor is it relevant that Galicia probably had Celtic tribes living in it before the Romans and the Goths/Visigoths happened along.
Nor is it even relevant that Franco [or some Castilian nobles before him] was a bastard to the Galicians, as well as to countless thousands of others. The Civil War finished several decades ago.
It’s wrong [silly even] to attribute fascistic sympathies to everyone who doesn’t display Nationalist – or even nationalist - sympathies.
Notwithstanding all these reservations – and despite the fact I don’t accept that Galicia could ever qualify as a ‘nation’ in the juridical sense – it has to be accepted that Galicia is a region with its own history and culture. It is, in short, a discrete community, just as Asturias, Cantabria, etc. are. If there really is a strong desire amongst the majority of Galicians to have this sentiment labelled ‘national’ in the Constitution, then this is OK, provided it is done [as in Andalucia*] on the basis of an acceptance of the unity of Spain and its indissolubility. So, the ‘nationalist’ view of things should be accommodated in a sensible, pragmatic way.
As for the specific of language – whilst it is acceptable to promote Gallego, it must not be forced on anyone. And while it would be wonderful if everyone in Galicia [both natives and foreigners] were equally fluent in both of the region’s co-official tongues, this must a matter of free choice. There must be no compulsion, either direct or indirect. Provided the taxpayers were prepared to foot the bill, every official document [including the tourist pamphlets and Guías published by the town councils] would again be in both languages. As would all letters from the local and regional administrators. The recent practice of using only Gallego should stop. This would not rule out a facility in Gallego being a pre-requisite for jobs where only Gallego is spoken but this would be the exception, not the rule. It would depend on local facts and not on the a priori major/minor linguistic aspirations of Nationalists/nationalists. People should not be denied employment or lose their jobs for purely doctrinaire reasons, whether they are Galician or come from other parts of Spain or elsewhere.
As for schooling - the policy of each educational establishment should be left to the institution and the parents and should reflect local realities. There might [as now] be schools in which only Gallego was used and there might be schools where only Spanish was used. Elsewhere, there would be a mix, with the ratio depending on local demographics. It might be possible to leave this to each municipal council to determine, provided the voters had the last say. Either way, it’s not something which should be dictated by the Xunta simply because the BNG is currently a power broker.
Well, that’s it. But, finally, I have something ask about the Gallego which would be promoted - Which Gallego exactly? If you take a look at Wikipedia’s linguistic map for Galicia, the challenge becomes obvious. Added to this are the following observations I made 18 months ago, possibly before Xoan Carlos and Carlos began reading my blog:-
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. Changes annually, to the confusion of both teachers and pupils.
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.
So, asking rhetorically which of these various Galician variants the nationalists/Nationalists would impose on the wiling/unwilling populace, I now depart this scene. And I leave them to use my blog to voice their disagreement to their hearts’ content. I only ask that they eschew juvenile vitriol at my personal expense. Actually, I don’t; it makes for amusement.
Thank-you and Goodnight.
* Sorry, Xoan Carlos, I don’t like ‘Andalusia’