Friday, January 15, 2010

In the UK – and, I suspect, the USA – the word ‘elite’ is taboo these days. Almost as bad as ‘judgmental’. So I was pleasantly surprised to see an editorial in one of the national papers making the point that, if the Spanish education system remains poor, it will prevent the formation an elite. But perhaps the word has a different connotation in Spanish. As, indeed, the word ‘education’ often does. Of course, I’m assuming the paper was making a critical comment, not a laudatory one.

It’s not a new number but it was interesting to hear the Spanish Labour Minster yesterday confirm that Spain’s black economy has reached the level of 20% of the official number. Except it hasn’t, says the rank-pulling Vice President for the Economy. So, pick your own number. But, anyway, it’s probably quite large.

Meanwhile, the head of the European Central Bank has taken time off from commenting on the woes of Greece to say that Spain “has work to do”. Which can’t really have come as much of a surprise to anyone.

Thanks to a BBC podcast, I had the opportunity recently to learn quite a lot about a member of the 60’s group, The Bonzo Dog Do Dah Band. One Vivian Stanshall by name. Specifically, I learned about a quirky film that I must try to find called “Rawlinson End”. For a taste of VS’s brand of humour, try this . . . His exploits with close friend Keith Moon are legendary. Perhaps the most notorious involves Stanshall going into a tailor's shop and admiring a pair of trousers. Moon then came in, posing as another customer, admired the same trousers and demanded to buy them. When Stanshall protested, the two men fought over them, splitting them in two so they ended up with one leg each. The tailor was by now beside himself but just then a one-legged actor, who’d been hired by Stanshall and Moon, came in, saw the trousers and proclaimed "Ah! Just what I was looking for.” Well, I liked it.

Finally . . . Galician Nationalism. I think it was a character in one of Steinbeck’s books who said something like “-isms and –ocracies, I’ve had enough of these. Give me facts!” Well, in response to the readers who claim I’m a Spanish Nationalist because I don’t agree with them, I say the salient facts are, firstly, that Galicia is not yet a nation and, secondly, that the people they have to convince to make it one are their fellow Galicians, not me. Meanwhile, the correct label for me is Democratic Status Quoist. As I’ve said several times, if the majority of people in Galicia, Scotland, Wales or wherever vote to secede and become an independent nation, then I will accept that their region/country is now a (probably poorer) nation. Until then, all else is mere talk. And that is definitely my last word on this subject. And I don’t mind how much you mock this view, Mr Cade, as I’m quite sure more people have laughed at your comments than at anything I’ve ever written. Which is rather sad really, given that I’m trying to amuse them and you’re not.

28 comments:

Midnight Golfer said...

Yep, even if I had the money, I still wouldn't frequent any establishment using "elite" to advertise itself.

I'm still trying to figure out what the equivalent for "de categoria" would be.

Anonymous said...

Colin, I think you are mistaking nationhood with statehood. But in any case, you are being more Spanish Nationalist than the Spanish Nationalist mainstream, who tends to recognize the Galician nation (as the Spanish Constitution does) as an integral part of the Spanish nation. So perhaps you could explain to your readers, including myself and Mr Cade (are you still blocking his comments, are they still so rude?), why Spain is a nation, being made up, as it is, of several nations.

But I assume you can’t explain this contradiction, you just assume it without real thinking, so I’ll take for granted that you are a mainstream unconscious Spanish nationalist ... and this is my last word.

Kind regards,

José

Colin said...

Jose,

You are right that I am not familiar with the Spanish Constitution but I don’t need to be for this purpose. Paper is paper, facts are facts.

Nation of nations
Country of countries
City of cities
Town of towns
Village of villages
Hamlet of hamlets

These terms lose all true meaning when these word games are played to satisfy some and placate others.

Why does it not say “State of nations”, I wonder. Maybe using ‘Nation’ was actually meant to create a sub-class and deny true nationhood to the claimants. Who now really knows?

I see from your comments to X-W, like the BNG, you don’t aspire to secession and statehood. Only to “nationhood”. Which is politically sensible of course. What this really means, then, is autonomy and the predominance of Gallego over Castellano. Fair enough. Good luck to you. But allow me – as someone who is caught up in the crossfire between you idealogues – to complain that, as a taxpayer resident in the state and nation of Spain, it annoys me when I receive documents that are not in both official languages. And makes me laugh when tourist documents are only in Gallego. This doesn’t make me a conscious or (now subconscious) Spanish nationalist. It makes me a disaffected consumer whose rights are being ignored. And, my friend, it is only your doctrinaire antipathy to “Castilian” Spanish (which I’m sure is even more excellent than your English – more word nonsense) which compels you to see me this way. Plus a big dollop of victimhood. And on over-detailed knowledge of local history. But I guess this is an essential requisite for the victimhood.

Anyway, I’ve enjoyed this. So best wishes. I’ll happily chat over a beer if you are ever in Pontevedra. And if you really aren’t Cade. Whose last comment I did publish, by the way. As rude as ever. So, no more.

Anonymous said...

Colin, you wrote:

“as a taxpayer resident in the state and nation of Spain, it annoys me when I receive documents that are not in both official languages. And makes me laugh when tourist documents are only in Gallego. This doesn’t make me a conscious or (now subconscious) Spanish nationalist. It makes me a disaffected consumer whose rights are being ignored”


You are right there, Colin, but what about the rights of the Galician speakers, who are forced to switch to the other official language, when, for example, they have to talk with you (if they are polite)? Isn’t your ignorance forcing them to ditch their natural tongue? But the worrying case is that this happens daily (and perhaps your knowledge of both Castilian and Galician is not good enough to perceive this normal occurrence) to Galician speakers, who are forced to speak and to write in Castilian because of the ignorance of the civil servants in Galician (which, by the way, will continue the same, as the government has ditched the requirement to show enough knowledge of Galician to become a civil servant) or employers, something that occurs everyday, in a much bigger scale than the opposite way that you denounce.

On the other hand, Colin, you might find Galician difficult to understand, but for the average non-Galician Castilian native speaker, it is really easy and in just a few months, if not weeks, they can even master its speaking, reading and writing, at least in the official version ... so if your complaining about the documents in just Galician is understandable, it is not from a Madrileno or a Sevillano living in Galicia, let alone from a Galician who is (shameless) illiterate in one of the official languages of their own country, the original one, by the way ...

So I see more victimism (or perhaps a phobia for languages, could it be a bad experience in school?) in you and in the anti-Galician brigade, than in those who refuse to become Madrid clowns ...

Anonymous said...

By the way Colin, I forget signing my previous comment: I am José.

Just one more thing of this interesting exchange, Colin, but I must say first that I disagree with many of the Galician nationalist methods as well as with “your friend” Cade’s manners.

You wrote, about myself:
“it is only your doctrinaire antipathy to “Castilian” Spanish (which I’m sure is even more excellent than your English – more word nonsense) which compels you to see me this way. Plus a big dollop of victimhood.”

Well, let me tell you, Colin, that I have been living in a Castilian speaking country for many years, which happens to be the capital of the Spanish state, Madrid, and that I know indeed quite well (or so I believe) the Castilian language, as I am a graduate in Spanish language and literature, from a Madrid university. I try my best English, as well as my best Galician, when I write it or speak it, and I only wish that my mastering of Galician was as good as the one I have in Castilian. So I keep studying Galician on my own (as well as English and French), since I wasn’t given the opportunity to do it, when in scholar age in Galicia. I consider Castilian my own language, together with Galician, and my love for it, for Castilian, or castellano, especially for its golden age literature masterpieces, as well as for its varied vernacular oral forms, will remain undying. But that doesn’t mean that I would expect all Catalan or Galician or Basque people to feel the same for it. Nor would I consider imposing Galician in Madrid, where Castilian is the vernacular. So, why shouldn’t Galicians aspire, not even to same status, as Galician is not official here, in Madrid, but to one of parity?
Furthermore, if Hindi is not official in Calcutta, why Castilian should be official in Galicia? Is not India a unified country? Can’t Spaniards admit to the cultural diversity, and stop trying to impose Castilian over Galicians, Catalans and Basques? How would Bengalis react to a Hindi imposition? Would the Indian state be viable?

You see, Colin, the prejudice about the necessity of the pr-eminence of Castilian language, which I love dearly, over all of the Spanish state, is an instrument in the hands of the real cancer of the country, the Spanish nationalists. They still reign unchallenged, the heirs of Franco.

Kind regards,

José

Colin said...

Jose,

Galego would be the 7th or 8th language in which I had become (at one time) fluent. I don't really feel I need it (here on the coast) but I am learning it, albeit slowly by osmosis as opposed to the autodidactic way I learned Spanish. I smile at the suggestion I am language-phobic.

I have always been impressed by the way 'natural' Galego speakers switch into Spanish for me, a foreigner, without being resentful in any way. They recognise, of course, that it is not my maternal tongue and I have chosen to learn Spanish.

They also do this to true Castilian speakers, out of politeness. It saddens me that some Galego speakers have an instinctive resentment of Spanish speakers, ESPECIALLY if they are fellow Galicians. Why don't they/you(extend) the same courtesy of choice as it given to me? Why does it have to be a fight to the death?

There's a lot of talk of lingusitic harmony. My impression is that this has reduced since I came here. Which I think is a shame.

All that said, I don't have any problem with all that you have just posted. Well, almost all. "Forcing them to ditch their natural tongue" . . They are civil servans, for God's sake, living in Spain as well as Galicia. And being subsidised by the bloody speakers of Castilian.

This is what I mean by a doctrinaire interpretation. Yes, there have been wrongs in the past and yes Gallego needs to be protected and developed but, as we say, two wrongs do not make a right.

Best.

Colin said...

Jose,

Galego would be the 7th or 8th language in which I had become (at one time) fluent. I don't really feel I need it (here on the coast) but I am learning it, albeit slowly by osmosis as opposed to the autodidactic way I learned Spanish. I smile at the suggestion I am language-phobic.

I have always been impressed by the way 'natural' Galego speakers switch into Spanish for me, a foreigner, without being resentful in any way. They recognise, of course, that it is not my maternal tongue and I have chosen to learn Spanish.

They also do this to true Castilian speakers, out of politeness. It saddens me that some Galego speakers have an instinctive resentment of Spanish speakers, ESPECIALLY if they are fellow Galicians. Why don't they/you(extend) the same courtesy of choice as it given to me? Why does it have to be a fight to the death?

There's a lot of talk of lingusitic harmony. My impression is that this has reduced since I came here. Which I think is a shame.

All that said, I don't have any problem with all that you have just posted. Well, almost all. "Forcing them to ditch their natural tongue" . . They are civil servans, for God's sake, living in Spain as well as Galicia. And being subsidised by the bloody speakers of Castilian.

This is what I mean by a doctrinaire interpretation. Yes, there have been wrongs in the past and yes Gallego needs to be protected and developed but, as we say, two wrongs do not make a right.

Best.

Anonymous said...

Colin, I'm sorry but I find your discourse very faulty:

if you are not language phobic, as you aren’t, since you claim to speak seven languages, what are those Galician who can’t even speak the original language of their own country? Is it laziness? Lack of intelligence? Despise for their own heritage?


You write:
“It saddens me that some Galego speakers have an instinctive resentment of Spanish speakers, ESPECIALLY if they are fellow Galicians. Why don't they/you(extend) the same courtesy of choice as it given to me? Why does it have to be a fight to the death?”

Nothing wrong with you not speaking Galician? I agree. But if you had chosen to learn Galician, and not Spanish (in the hypothetical case that such thing was possible, which is not the case, since Spanish would end up imposing its all pervading presence and superior status), would they see your choice as equally nothing wrong? Or would they call you a Galician nationalist? Can you see the double standards?

How courteous would be a Spanish speaker to a Galician who couldn’t speak Spanish? They would be as courteous as mocking them as a yokel. Is that your “lingusitic harmony”? Why you reckon all Galicians speak Spanish? You see Colin, you still have to free yourself from the Spanish nationalist prejudice, the one that classes Spanish as superior to Galician.

On the other hand, since when there is a need to be courteous with the ignorant, who happens to be ignorant because they want to be ignorant, since they oppose rising the standard of Galician for everybody being able to learn it? You not speaking Galician is not an issue, the issue is the Galician that, not speaking it, expects the other Galician to adjust to his/her ignorance / despise for Galician language. Is that what you understand as harmony?
It is easy to claim harmony when you are on top of the other, isn’t it? “Why do these “buggers” who are below me try to get above their station”?

The civil servants, Colin, are paid too by Galician speakers, who happen to be the majority, even if they don’t vote BNG. Why are some of them then illiterate in Galician? Is it so difficult to learn it, for a Galician, or even for a Spanish? How can you claim to have Spanish and not only Galician in your official communications, and then condone the ignorance of the civil servants WORKING AND PAID FOR GALICIAN PEOPLE?

You see Colin, with every sentence you write you are asserting every tenet of the Spanish nationalists. How can you expect to be taken seriously?

Midnight Golfer said...

A little bit of surfing around on wordreference.com has me believing that "de categoría" is used as "upscale" or "upmarket" is in English.
Just in case anyone cared.

Colin said...

José,

Responses to a few of your comments . . .

“So, why shouldn’t Galicians aspire, not even to same status, as Galician is not official here, in Madrid, but to one of parity?”
I agree. They are free to aspire to it. And vote for whichever party promises it. And then to change their minds.

Can’t Spaniards admit to the cultural diversity, and stop trying to impose Castilian over Galicians, Catalans and Basques?
I agree

“the prejudice about the necessity of the pr-eminence of Castilian language . . .over all of the Spanish state, is an instrument in the hands of the real cancer of the country, the Spanish nationalists. They still reign unchallenged, the heirs of Franco. “
- They may well do but I am not one of them. And you may have seen me admit that the longer I live here the more likely I am to vote PSOE, should I ever be given a (national) vote in return for my taxes.

“On the other hand, since when there is a need to be courteous with the ignorant, who happen to be ignorant because they want to be ignorant, since they oppose raising the standard of Galician for everybody being able to learn it? You not speaking Galician is not an issue, the issue is the Galician that, not speaking it, expects the other Galician to adjust to his/her ignorance/despise for Galician language.”
Well, José, for the first time you sound angry. And not with me but with your fellow Galicians who you resent for betraying their culture (i. e. their language). And for not thinking exactly like you. You do not see them as citizens of a pluralistic state exercising their choice between the two official languages but only as citizens of Galiza who are dupes of Castilian repression. And this is where we part company completely. You despise the extremism of the Right but this way of thinking – that the people are too stupid to know what’s morally right and need to be forced to do it – is exactly what leads to ‘benevolent dictatorship’ and then to a full tyranny of the Left. Which differs not one jot from a tyranny of the Right.

As I said, there are ideologues and extremists on both sides of this divide. And I very much doubt that the majority of Galicians are sympathetic to either of them.

Best wishes.


BTW. You English is excellent but I don’t think there’s a noun from “to despise”. Disdain, is a good alternative.

Anonymous said...

Colin,

first of all let me be frankly honest with you and tell you that you seem to civilly agree to many things, but then you contradict yourself with your comments. Perhaps it is your sarcastic way, but you seem to use it only against those who now you claim to agree with (as you have just avowed), and not against those who are intent on perpetuating this Castilian imposition. You cannot agree on the unfairness of this imposition, and then condone it on the grounds of the votes of Galicians, who seem to vote and ask for it (in your own idea, as if the massive – supported also from many sympathisers in Madrid - social mobilization against it didn’t exist, apart from two poor deranged bombers). So, would you condone the anexation of Checkoslovaquia by the Nazi regime, who got in power by the force of the vote. Would you ask for Germans to vote for another regime before condemning them? Do you condom the last Iraqui war, in the light of the elections won by the incumbent USA president? Would you wait for a anti-war president to win the elections to start condemning that unfair and wicked invasion?

The fact that Galicians vote “against” Galician has got nothing to do with any possible lack of interest for their own identity, but a lot to do with their day-to-day needs, which are mainly determined from Madrid, or from those who think of Madrid first. You seem to subscribe to the fallacy of the treacle down theory of distribution of wealth, as if all good Galician thing came or could be come only from its dependence from Madrid. This model of development is just pure outmode right wing think tank, which seems to be your preference though. An integrated economy doesn’t mean a centralised and parasitic one.

Then you write: “You despise the extremism of the Right but this way of thinking – that the people are too stupid to know what’s morally right and need to be forced to do it – is exactly what leads to ‘benevolent dictatorship’ and then to a full tyranny of the Left. Which differs not one jot from a tyranny of the Right.”

I’m sorry, Colin, I just find this comment absolutely puerile. Where did I say people is too stupid to know what’s morally right? Anyway, just ... puerile ...

Anonymous said...

Colin, could you please tell me what six or seven languages you speak, and the reasons that made you become a fluent speaker of them, and not of others (work, living in a particular country, wife/girlfriend ...). In that light perhaps you will be able to explain to me how come after 10 years living in Galicia you still can’t speak / understand one of the official languages of the country, which, by the way, happens to be one of the most important signs of its identity, if not the most (and whose claim to hegemony in its own territory you've just avowed to sympathise with). Perhaps there is a genuine reason that makes you consider it not worthy to learn the original language of the country you have chosen as residence, even if it is so close to one of the languages you already speak/understand, Spanish. Thank you.

Kind regards,

José

Colin said...

Jose,

Apart from English, French and Latin, the languages I have learned have been as a result of living around the world. As three of these are Creole, Persian and Indonesian, you can see that ‘global utility’ has not been my key criterion.

As to why I haven’t applied myself to Gallego, the reasons are very simple, not that you will find them acceptable:-
1. I came to live in (a region) of Spain. I did not see myself coming to live in the nation of Galiza.
2. I had always wanted to learn Spanish
3. Before I came to Spain, I started learning Spanish with my Anglo-Spanish stepsons, born in Galicia but using Spanish as their mother tongue
4. Very little Gallego is spoken in Pontevedra. Hardly anyone I meet uses it in preference to Gallego.
5. It’s hard enough to learn one new language without trying to learn another (confusingly similar) language at the same time.
6. Spanish offered me much greater utility as and when I leave Spain, as I surely will one day.
7. Meanwhile, it also offered me much greater utility as a tourist, both within Spain and without it.

In other words, José, this was what the Americans call a no-brainer. Frankly, I’d be astonished if any foreigner coming to Galicia would take any other decision. It staggers me that you could ask why I wouldn’t learn Gallego in preference to Spanish. But, then, it seems to me that you are driven (like Cade) by a belief that you are the Keepers of the Sacred Linguistic Flame. It is a religion for you two (and others, of course) and you are the Faithful who feel others must be made to share your beliefs. I have no problem with you being believers but I do have a problem with your attitude to other Galicians who don’t share your creed. And I laugh at the High Priest Cade actually lecturing and hectoring them from outside Galicia.

[I have to send the rest of this separately. Too long, apparently]

Colin said...

PART 2

In short, Gallego offered nothing by way of attraction and the only reasons I apply myself to it are an interest in languages and the occasional need to understand folk in the hills who either only speak Gallego or prefer to use it.

None of this stops me sympathising with those (even the idiot Cade) who want to see Gallego protected and developed. It’s the methods that I have a problem with as they seem, at times, as fascistic as anything Franco got up to. Which is not an original observation, of course.

As for your second message . . . I don’t condone any past, present or future imposition. My fundamental belief is that, if anything is going to be imposed on any citizens, then they have the right to vote on whether they accept this and their response must then be respected. If they don’t want to share your religion, you have no right to force them to. If they reject it, this will be disappointing and even infuriating but such is life in a democracy. I assume you do envision Galiza as being a democracy, as opposed to a benevolent dictatorship.

Finally, you seem determined to establish that – like your traitorous Galician fools – I dislike/disdain/resent Gallego. This is nonsense. If not neutral about it, I am positive about it and I enjoy learning new words/expressions in the language.

But I have taken the incontrovertibly logical personal decision to major on the other official language of this region/country/historical nationality/nation and I see no reason why my decision can’t be respected by the authorities here. Nor can I see why the decisions of Galicians can’t be respected either but I know I’m never going to persuade you of this.

Anyway, I hope this gives you a better understanding – if not acceptance – of my personal position and, with this, I really will finally end my half of this dialogue. We were never going to agree on the subject of imposition but at least we have clarified our respective attitudes and rationales. Which is something that it not always possible with Nationalists and I am very grateful for your civility. Plus, of course, I respect your position, while not sharing it.

Finishing with an analogy – My sister is a very pious Catholic. I am an atheist. We can talk but there's no point in us trying to reach any agreement, though one can always listen to the reasons for the other’s beliefs and stance. Which we have done.

Adieu.

Kind regards.

PS Well, you were civil until you followed up the 'language-phobe' insult with the 'puerile' jibe.

Maybe those readers who think you really are Cade are right after all . . . .

Anonymous said...

Colin,

I will answer at your first comment, and then to your second. There are several contradictions again in what you say. First you claim to come to a region of Spain, not to a nation. Again, confirming you are more Spanish nationalist than those Spanish nationalists that drew the “Constitución española”, who recognise the existence of different nations within Spain (even though they will be more than happy with your “regionalistic” perception). Then you start claiming that “global utility” is not your main criteria, only to write afterwards “Spanish offered me much greater utility as and when I leave Spain, as I surely will one day” and that “it also offered me much greater utility as a tourist, both within Spain and without it.” So, Colin, if utility is one of your criteria to learn a language, why deny it?

Then you write, “It staggers me that you could ask why I wouldn’t learn Gallego in preference to Spanish” ... Colin, did I ever ask you for such a thing? I am only asking you why after 10 years living in a country with two languages, a country that you claim to be genuinely interested in, and about which you write a lot, you haven’t yet learned the language that precisely gives it its distinct identity? I never suggested you shouldn’t learn / use Spanish.

Then, after 10 years of living in a Spanish majority speaking area, as it is the city of Pontevedra, don’t you reckon that your daily practise of Spanish should be very helpful to learn Galician? At least that is what all non-native speakers versed in Galician say. It seems that Galician is a problem / obstacle for your Spanish (a very useful language, unlike Galician) and for that not worthy of learning, even after 10 years of living in Galicia! Can one be more Spanish nationalist / supremacist ... ?

Then you write: “it seems to me that you are driven (like Cade) by a belief that you are the Keepers of the Sacred Linguistic Flame”. Well, I can’t speak for Cade, but as far as I am concerned, my mother tongue is Spanish, I live in a only Spanish speaking country, but that doesn’t mean that all the world should be only-Spanish speaking, especially wherever there is a rich native tongue, be it Galician, Basque, Catalan or Guaraní. And as a Galician, I can’t either accept the imposing of Spanish on Galicia at the price of the marginalization of Galician. It’s not a matter of religion, but a matter of denouncing any injustice, don’t you reckon?

Then you write: “I have no problem with you being believers but I do have a problem with your attitude to other Galicians who don’t share your creed”
Again, Colin, you are distorting the debate to demonise your antagonists. It’s not a matter of creed. I know nothing about the Guaraní creed, I am just against the annihilation / suppression of the Guaraní language / culture. As a Spanish / Galician I can’t condone either the suppression of the Galician culture. The only creed here is the belief in human justice, respect for diversity and valuing of cultural heritage.

José

Anonymous said...

Colin,

I answer now to your “Part 2”. You wrote: “Gallego offered nothing by way of attraction and the only reasons I apply myself to it are an interest in languages and the occasional need to understand folk in the hills who either only speak Gallego or prefer to use it.”

Colin, it seems that languages and cultures exist to serve your own personal interests (tourism, work?), and if not you are not interested in them, even though they are a intrinsic part of the country that hosts you. Do you really think that Galician is the language of “folk in the hills”? You then criticizes the methods to protect and develop Galician, qualifying them of fascistics, without specifying which ones. Could you be more specific here? Is it sending letter only in Galician (dead easy to understand for any Galician or even for a Madrid person, and I know this very well) a fascistic method? Is it not fascistic imposing the Castilian language out of its native areas, as you agreed with me before?

Then you write: “My fundamental belief is that, if anything is going to be imposed on any citizens, then they have the right to vote on whether they accept this and their response must then be respected. If they don’t want to share your religion, you have no right to force them to.”
So who is speaking of imposition? Can you impose English in England? Spanish in Madrid? Why this calling “imposition” of what it is normal, but for the ignorance (which was indeed imposed) of people? This rethoric you use, Colin, is the one used by Spanish nationalists. Language is not a religion either, but a means of conveying culture. I don’t think you complained about Indonesian, Creole or French languages in the countries they are spoken for being official in them or native to them. Why should be Galician different. Are there two types of Galician, those who don’t have to speak / know the native (and official) tongue, and those who can do it? Can one be more patronising and divisive? Do you want a divided country, with two linguistic communities, as those from “Galicia Bilingüe” want (though never admit to it)?

In no democracy, Colin, there is a right to ignorance. Galician is part of the cultural patrimony of the country, as well as official, and yet many people get away with ignorance about it? Could you get equally away with your ignorance of Spanish? Is that democracy, one language above the other? Is there any other method of correcting this (secular) unbalance that through “positive discrimination”?



You admit at putting Spanish first before Galician. Nothing wrong, since you are not a Galician. But, if you had decided otherwise, and put Galician first, wouldn’t you be called a pro-Galician nationalist? The labelling thing, Colin, is not a neutral thing. You put labels on some, and they can put them on you. So you are a pro-Spanish nationalist.

Anonymous said...

Finally, two more things:

Colin, I didn’t intend to offend you with that “puerile” remark, so I clarify: you accused me of pro-comunism dictatoship, just for ... condemning the Spanish imposition ... in this day and age, don’t you think this discourse of the communist “quinta columna” is a bit out of place ... or puerile? I wouldn’t accuse you fostering the return of a Franco dictatorship, not even the Spanish nationalists could be blamed of that ... that kind of remarks don’t help the civil debate at all.

This is not about acceptance or not of your personal position, but about contributing to give a distorted and biased view of Galicia, which is what you are doing with your constant allusions at the “Galician issue”. I am not Mr Cade, Colin, and I thought at this point that would be clear. I have been to his blog, and I don’t agree with his methods, but I have to agree with him in the spirit of his claims. All the doubts about your pro-Spanish ideology remain, and yet you claim to be a Galicianist. There is something that is not right here, and I just wanted to make clear my complete disagree with your methods and claims and your unjustified and distorted account of the Galician reality among the anglo-speaking blogesphere.

Sinceramente,

José Aguiar,
gallego residente en Madrid desde 1991

Colin said...

Jose,

Well, I was going to leave you to have the last word. Or should I say "last many (heartfelt) words".

And then I came up against your sentence "In no democracy, Colin, there is a right to ignorance."

Amazing. The people have no right to decide what their rights are.
Are you sure you understand what a democracy is?

As I have said, this is where we fall out. You have fine (or at least fine-sounding) principles and aspirations but you believe that people have no right to reject them or even be ignorant of them. They must be compelled to share them.

Who, I wonder are the select group who decide what knowledge and ignorance are in your form of democracy? And how knowledgable the people will be compelled to be? And in what, apart from the language, would they not be allowed to be ignorant in? Nuclear physics? The history of the Celtic world? The Catholic liturgy? The myth of St James?, etc. etc. etc.

It's an odd form of democracy in which someone other than the people decide what the people are allowed to do or be.

It all reminds me of the old political joke about the head of government who was voted out of office and said "The people have let us down. Instead of changing the government, let's change the people."

Bloody nuisance voters. Especially the ignorant ones.

Anonymous said...

Colin, ignorance of Galician is not a right. Why do Galicians have an autonomous government? Why do they have the Galician language as (co)OFFICIAL? Were these arbitrary decisions?

Since you justify Galician people refusing to know Galician, would you justify Galician people refusing to know Spanish (as some of them would, if given the option of living only in Galician)?

People have a right not to be educated in English, since English is not part of the country. But, is it the same with Galician? If so, why not with Spanish? Why not allow these “bloody nationalist” to get away with their own democratic views of what Galicia is, and avoid their children being “indoctrinated” in Spanish?

You see Colin, here it is where we depart: you have left too many questions unanswered and contradictions. It is views like yours, full of the “Spanish first” prejudice (to call it some name) that make of what is an integral part of soul of the country (Galicia) a focus for division, instead of union and wealth.

When Galician be a non-official language, then people will be free to desert it. But as things stand now, justifying ignorance of Galician is not democratic. Neither it is of Castilian. Of course, I am not referring to you, who are absolutely free to remain ignorant of Galician. Even if you decided to live there for another 10 years.

Anonymous said...

Colin,

just one last thing. I think you are a victim to Spanish nationalism (all we have been sometime). I advise you to read these two links:

http://www.elpais.com/articulo/Galicia/algo/personal/elpepiautgal/20100117elpgal_9/Tes

http://votoconbotas.trincheradigital.com/?p=5780


Kind regards (after all),

José

mike the trike said...

Yes I have become a victim to all this Spanish control as well. I notice everything here is Spanish. Telephone company, railway, water, electric, airline you name it and it's all Spanish. I flew to London on the Spanish owned airline and arrived at Heathrow to find it is also owned by a Spanish company. I went to change some Euros into Pounds at one of the well known "British banks" to find it is also owned by a Spanish bank. I am finding it difficult to get away from anything Spanish now. And to Xoán-Wahn. Hello my friend! As regards reading up on history I wouldn't bother if I were you because according to lots of comments on here it is only written by the victor so what you read is a load of distorted information. Am I making sense here or is it just like all the rest of the rubbish I have been reading in these comments for the last couple of weeks? Colin this has to be the best blog ever written and no wonder the whole world is rushing here each day to check the latest news. Looking at your meter that tells me where everyone is and provides such amazing information.

Colin said...

Jose,

Well, I’m pleased to see that at least we agree that, as a foreigner, I should not be compelled to learn Gallego and that I’m being denied my rights by receiving, for example, tax forms and guides only in Gallego.

As for what should be done to and/or by Galicians living in Galicia, I leave you with a contrast to what it is I think you espouse. In the region of the UK I come from, no one is obliged to learn English. In fact, if you want information on benefits from the local council, it is available in several languages. This, of course, is funded by the taxpayers and they can change things, should they ever want, via the ballot box. Until then, it will rank as the will of the people.

Contrast this with the (Nationalist) view that everything here should be only be in Gallego. Like the tax papers I mentioned and the tourist brochures and events guides for the city of Pontevedra, for example.

As I’ve said, we’re all victims of our experience and I feel I have experienced a different form of democracy from yours. And I prefer it.

You will say, I guess, the cases are differentiatable on the basis that Gallego has lost ground over hundreds of years to Castellano and that it needs to be fostered. Not just ‘passively’ but actively via imposition. And by applying a bit of their own medicine to the Castilian oppressors and their (even more guilty) Galician fellow-travellers. People can’t be left to be ignorant and mono-linguistic/cultural. As I keep saying, I understand this and sympathise with your feelings and aspirations. But I don’t agree with your proposed methods.

To exaggerate a little – I not only see you and Cade as sharing a quasi-religion but also as people on a mission to convert. But you are more than, say, Christian evangelists because you believe some heretics need to be forcibly converted. In this you more resemble Islamic fundamentalists than Christians. The Jews are, of course, we Anglos. We don’t proselytise, as we are the Chosen People. You have to apply to join us. And not everyone makes it. Meanwhile, we pick and chose elsewhere, as it suits us.

And that really is it! You can have as many final words as you like.

Best wishes.

Colin

Colin said...

"Obkiged by the law to learn English" I meant.

Colin said...

Well, many thanks, Mike for your very kind comments. I was a bit embarrassed to have to approve their publication. But I managed it!

Yes, I guess the Nationalist History of Galiza would/does take a different slant, proving beyond doubt the Celtic roots of the Galicians, for example. Not for them the scepticism shown by me and the (Galician) author of the book I recently cited, Otro Idea de Galia.

But facts can be twisted by both the winners and the losers, who tend to take comfort from myths. Was it Henry Ford who said "All history is bunk"? Or was it Junk?

Cheers.

Pericles said...

Colin,

Minority languages either pass beyond human ken, because their speakers die, as has probably happened many times in the past, or they can be resurrected. e.g. Cornish.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cornwall/8462989.stm

What languages did humans speak 15,000 years ago, during the Last Glacial Maximum?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Languages

The revival of the Hebrew language in Israel is the only example of a language which has become a language with new first language speakers after it became extinct in everyday use for an extended period, being used only as a liturgical language.

And even in the case of Hebrew, there is a theory that argues that "the Hebrew revivalists who wished to speak pure Hebrew failed. The result is a fascinating and multifaceted Israeli language, which is not only multi-layered but also multi-sourced. The revival of a clinically dead language is unlikely without cross-fertilisation from the revivalists' mother tongue(s)."

The official languages in Israel are Arabic and Hebrew, but English is also taught.

Other cases of language revitalization which have seen some degree of success are Welsh and Hawai'ian, and how about Erse?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erse_language

Incidentally, in the mid sixties I lived and worked in Sweden for a year. Within 6 months of returning to England, all my fluency in Swedish had vanished. Use it or lose it, I guess.

Regards,

Perry

David said...

Showing graciousness -noblesse oblige, as they say in Guernesey- and condescending to parley with those half-witted "folk in the hills" in their own mongrel lingo...wow! so much for multi-cultural Europe! I rather like that...it reeks of "kind-natured natives in the bush" or, even better, "simple-minded kaffers in the veld". I guess deep-seated supremacist colonialism is extremely die-hard in any circumstances.

Let me hasten to add that a sound grasp of above-mentioned mongrel grunt can turn out to be surprisingly useful in the hills, bars, brothels, bookshops and universities of Rio de Janeiro, Lisbon or Luanda. Try shouting your orders in English or Spanish instead and you'll only draw blank stares for an answer. People will just wonder what all the fuss is about.

The only thing that puzzles me is why somebody endowed with this frame of mind would consider casting a ballot for the likes of PSOE. I'd have thought Rosa Díez and her neo-Phalangist UPyD lot were their natural constituency.

Colin said...

Well, David, you have interepreted this harmless comment in the same way as my Galician nationalist readers. For which I must blame myself in not realising that it could easily be interpreted. If you read my blog regularly, you will see that I like the word 'folk' and regularly use it to simply mean 'people'. There was nil intention to disparage anyone. It is just a fact of life down here on the coast that few people speak Gallego here while a lot more speak it in the mountains. It was meant to be a totally neutral statement but, as I say, I was at fault for not realising that it wouldn't come across like this in the context. I expressly did not mean to refer to the Gallego speakers as some sort of hillbilly class. In the cities of Lugo and Oursense, for instance, it is spoken by all classes. But not down here.And I was speaking of my daily existence. Andiving one reason why it is more useful to speak Spanish where I live.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the coast vs interior argument holds water anymore. & What about Marín, Cangas, Bueu, Moaña and the Morrazo peninsula in general?
I hear Gallego quite a lot in Pontevedra, in the supermarket near my flat, in the bank, on the bus to work etc; Most of the mouths speaking it wouldn't conform to the stereotype generally bandied about in Pontevedra either. Great debate though. A joy to read. :-)

Search This Blog