Saturday, December 30, 2006

Catalonia, a country without “cojones”

In the Spanish speaking countries, the word “cojones” is gross. Surprisingly in the Anglo countries the same word has pretty positive connotations (a bit “macho”, but positive). I have heard the word used in business meetings several times and I seem to be the only one who gets a bit shocked with the expression, even though the Catalan version of the word, “collons” (pronounced “koo-ee-ons”), is much softer and can be used without raising eyebrows.
To illustrate that the word “cojones” has no negative connotations among the North American Anglo community, I will mention the ad campaigned that Volkswagen started in USA a few months ago. The billboards describe its new Golf as the “Turbo-Cojones”. The campaign did not last much due to the complaints of people, mostly in Florida, who did understand the real meaning of cojones and did not want to be exposed to a gross ad promoting the “turbo-testicles” and maybe, did not want to see the saga continued with a next round of ads promoting the Jetta “Turbo-polla” (Turbo-dick).

However, for this posting, I want to stick to the Anglo meaning of “cojones” and definitely, at the end of the year 2006, I have to proclaim that Catalonia is a country without cojones.
For hundreds of years the majority of Catalans have believed that even though Spain is a good country with excellent people, it is not our country, it is not the country where we belong. We have allowed that people arriving in our country change our way of life in a way only seen in places where the invader had a much more developed culture (and army) than those invaded. A high percentage of the millions of people who came to our land, Catalonia, seeking prosperity (and many of them got it) have “hispanized Catalonia” instead of adapting to our culture and values.
But the responsibility does not lie on those who came. The responsibility lies on those who call Catalonia their nation. And the reality is that we do not have “cojones”, we always back off because we are afraid of losing what we have achieved so far. We hide our Catalan identity, because we believe that if we display it, Spanish will boycott it and foreigners will not recognize it and we will sell less. We are a country of “botiflers”, a country without “cojones”.
As an example, I am including a picture of two bottles I bought here in USA, both bought at Costco. The single malt bottle of scotch shows proudly on the front of the bottle “The Macallan distilleries Inc, Easter Elchies, Craigellachie, Scotland. Product of Scotland”. On the bottle of Freixenet “cava”, there is no reference to Sant Sadurdi d’Anoia, Barcelona or Catalonia, just a laconic “Product of Spain” on the back label. I told you, a country without “cojones”.


Johnny Tastavins said...

Aha Ian, may be you are right. But could you please show the front sticker of our beloved Freixenet Cordon Negro. It's usually there where the cava producers place the Sant Sadurní d'Anoia name. Nothing at all in the front? Then I shall conclude with you that we have a very serious lack of cojones.

Have a nice 2007.

ian llorens said...

I have taken the time to unglue the front label, scan it and send it to you.
Now you can judge by yourself whether we do or don't have "cojones".
I will publish the scan in a few days, with some additional comments on Freixenet.

Johnny Tastavins said...

Ian, thanks, I received pic of the label. It was just yesterday evening that I had a Cordon Negro bottle on my hands. Of course I checked again the text of the label, and the spanish version details in the front very clearly the origin in Sant Sadurní d'Anoia, Spain (no mention to Catalonia, of course).

Unfortunately you are right. We are following the way to be a looser country. Where can we look for more "cojones"? Just unbelievable.

Miquel Marzabal Galano said...

Ian, you are right. I have been comparing Catalonia with Scotland for months and I am quite sad about this situation. Scotish people show with pride that their products are not British but Scotich. Catalan enterprises don’t.
However, there are many people like me out there who are ready to fight for a better projection of Catalonia abroad. I am collaborating from the Netherlands with ‘Plataforma de la llengua’ to get Catalan products labelled in Catalan language. And it works!
Even though it still is a minority of products, more and more products in Catalonia are labelled in Catalan language.
More companies are offering Catalan software, Catalan cellulars, etc.
We still have a LOT OF WORK to do.
But I Holland I have found some Catalan wines such as TORRES ‘Viña Brava’ (I know, this ñ...). On the front label of this wine you can read CATALUNYA in capital letters.
It is not the only brand that writes Catalunya on the front-label. But it still is a minority. I believe Ian that we should keep active and fight for justice. There is a lot of work to be done. But I am not so pessimistic. We are slowly being successful in making Catalonia present abroad. The Catalan Sports Federations are not asleep. Are very active and nobody will stop us.
I believe that if we carry on fighting for Catalunya in a democratic way within the EU we will achieve at least to have a stronger identity. Companies will follow.

Rab said...

Ian, you are spot on, again. Been to Barcelona for Christmas, visiting family and friends and it is getting worse by the year. I doubt the language and any sense of identity, whoever disguised, will survive for another generation or two.
We are doomed!

Tom said...

Miguel - unless I'm mistaken, Torres includes the word 'Catalunya' on its label because that is the official name of the 'denominació' of the 'Vinyes de la Terra de Catalunya'.

So, it's the same as saying 'Cava', 'Penedes' or (my favourite) 'Priorat', rather than a statement of Catalanity.

Miquel Marzabal Galano said...

Hi Tom, (my name is MiQuel, not MiGuel)
You might be right. I don't know.
I do know that there are people in Spain who would rather erase the word Catalunya from the map. I read somewhere that is a Spanish politician who wants catalan wines to be identified as 'Viñedos de España', instead of 'Catalunya Denominació d'origen'. Because he thinks that 'Spain' sells better, that Spain is better as 'brand'. I can tell you this is not the reason. They just want to avoid Catalonia to have any kind of international presence.
Perhaps Torres does not care about being Catalan at all. After all, they write the rest either in English or in Spanish (such as Rosado).
But on the other side, Codorniu writes everything just in Spanish. And on their Cava you can't find anywhere any signs of Catalonia. It does say Spain 3 times. Could Torres on their 'Viña Brava' avoid the word Catalunya? Could they write only Spain?
In other words:
Are you saying that Torres writes CATALUNYA because they are obliged to do so? And that Codorniu is not obliged to do so?

ian llorens said...

I think Tom is right. The majority of Catalan companies do not have any interest to promote Catalonia and only write the word if it is required, f.i. to show the wine denomination.

I do not care if people outside Catalonia would like to erase the word Catalonia from the map. I am worried because many Catalans find it a nuisance.

Habibi said...

When I went to Canada in 2005 I saw some car called "Pajero" (I don't think it was a Mitsubishi but I found info about that one in the Wiki) -- I had a similar reaction [for those who do not speak Spanish, Pajero means "wanker"].

About Catalonia not having cojones: I agree, as I said before, we are bit two faced. But comparing it to Scotland is not the same as Scotland is a Country, separated from England and united as a Kingdom. Spain is, since Carlos I, is One country and one Kingdom.

About the invasion: that's very funny cos Spanish are always complaining about Muslim people not adapting to our culture but Spanish and Andalucians who moved to Catalonia haven't adapted to our culture and that's why "we" (including myselfe) are 60% Andalucian descendant in Catalunya. And you know what, this is OUR fault! Cos we don't have cojones!

guirilandia said...

I personally prefer the term cataplines. Plus it has one extra syllable. You gotta love syllables.

And what's all this fuss about labels on bottles? If the wine is good who cares?

I believe that there are people out there on all sides of the spectrum that will buy something based purely on the label, or the ideal it is supposed to project. But I doubt anyone will drink vino peleón laced with antifreeze, no matter how good the propaganda is. A small impressionable minority, yes, I'm sure. But the rest is about the market place. Mythical Spain is alot more "sell-able" than mythical Catalunya. I don't see why that might not change in the future. Maybe catalunya needs a paris hilton, or a david beckham, a truly "catalan" celebrity. What would stop anyone from taking advantage of that? But please, I really doubt there's an evil eminencia gris conspiring against anyone, forcing them to do anything. There going after their own self interests.

ian llorens said...

If mythical Spain is what my daughter learns about the Spaniards in the Massachusetts public schools, I prefer to stick to the non sellable mythical Catalonia.
I am an idealist, who believes that individuals can make a difference. In the 14th and 15th centuries, Catalan was the lingua franca in the Mediterranean (most probably that's why Columbus wrote and spoke in Catalan) and Catalonia had consulates in most of the major ports, now we have Carod-Rovira. The good news is that it is practically impossible to go any lower. The future can only be better.
Regards from Phoenix (catching a flight to LAX).

Anonymous said...

The first King of Spain was Joseph Bonaparte. In any case, before the Bourbons, the kingdoms were quite independent. Don't believe everything that the colonial schools have taught us.

Please have a look at the first and last pages of the Basel 1494 Latin translation of the Columbus Letter. It is signed Christoforus Colom. If you have the time, check also the earliest extant version, in Castilian, available at the New York Public Library. Again, you'll find the Catalan name Colom. Remember Palos de Moguer? It turns out to be Pals de l'Empordà. But wait, it gets better. You can continue here and here ...

guirilandia said...

Hi Ian, and regards from your homeland. Living in the US you probably know a thing or two about individualism. Most of all respect for the individual (not counting the jerkoffs running our government). I think the whole Catalan issue should be an individual movement. I think people like rovira are mistaken into thinking they can somehow mold people like they were putty into their ideal of catalunya. i think he's making a difference, but a bad one. there are worse than him, i'm afraid.

It's unfortunate, but you look at past empires and it makes you wonder if we'd all be speaking catalan had the economic focus not shifted to sevilla and castilla(by the way, you know the chinese claim to have discovered the new world before even columbus or the vikings). maybe the catalans need to go out and conquer with their turbo-collons?

ian llorens said...

I have read Jordi Bibeny's "Cristofor Colom, Princep de Catalunya" and seen the documents that you refer to. A lot of interesting information, but no smoking gun. He may or may not be Catalan. He spoke Catalan and wrote in Catalan, but I did not find any hard proof that he was actually born in Catalonia. Most probably the only way to prove it is the DNA test that is ongoing now, and this assumes that none of the Coloms' mothers had extramarital affairs!

Regarding the first king of Spain, technically the first king of Spain was Charles I (V of Germany) when he inherited the Castilian crown in 1555 (when his mother "Juana la Loca" died). The first king to use the title of King of Spain was his son Phillip II. It is true that Catalonia acted as an independent country in the kindom federation until 1714, when the decree of New Foundation started to dismantle the key Catalan institutions and imposed the Spanish language in the justice system.

But this does not mean that we cannot be an independent country again. It is up to us, Catalans, to decide.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for responding. In the field of Historical Studies there is seldom a smoking gun or hard proof of anything. What you often have is a bunch of Theories—the official version being one of them—interacting with the Evidence available to each scholar. At this point in time, most scholars agree that the official version does not hold up. Moreover, the Catalan origin of Columbus is steadily gaining acceptance. On the other hand, I'm afraid that the DNA test could easily turn out to be a red herring.

Concerning the King of Spain, it is important to distinguish between the word Spain as referring to a geographical area, a people, a kingdom, or a formal institutional title. Think of the word America as used in the USA today. For some, the first King of Spain was Tubal, Noah's grandson. In any event, Ferdinand II of Aragon was already widely known as King of Spain. But it seems that the formal institutional title does not appear till the XIXth Century Spanish constitutions (see here and here.) You can find more details about some of the royal styles involved here, for example. Note that Phillip I of Aragon and Portugal (II of Castile) uses at some point the style Philippus D G Hispaniarum Rex (king of the Spains) on his seal, but it didn't last long.

Don't be so hard on the Catalan producers of Cava. They may be experiencing hesitations similar to the ones we both encounter in front of labeling Columbus as Catalan (please note that I didn't do so.)

In any case, I couldn't agree more with your last statements. Indeed, it is up to us, Catalans, to decide.

Anonymous said...

torres vende sangre de toro. (mas español imposible) y no hay prueba historica que demuestre que colon hablaba catalan, y en valencia hay cientos de escritos que demuestran que el valenciano se hablaba cuando no existia ningun indicio del catalan, en que quedamos ?

ian llorens said...

In front of the overwhelming evidence presented by our anonymous historian and enologist, I have to conclude that Columbus was a Valencian who drank Torres’ Sangre de Toro.
Next one, please.

Miquel Marzabal Galano said...


Anonymous said...

Only for the record:

1. Scottish products ARE British. What they aren't is English.

2. Catalonia never was an independent country. First, it was part of the Corona de Aragón, and after that, with Carlos I, of Spain.

3. I don't think Catalonian people has no cojones. I would point out as part of their idiosyncrasy victimismo first, and after that an exorbitant love for their own country.