Friday, March 30, 2007

Do not get married by a piglet

Two weeks ago, I read in the Catalan e-papers an unbelievable story. A Catalan couple who lived in Madrid, went back to Barcelona in order to have their wedding ceremony held in Catalan.
To their dismay, the judge refused to marry them in Catalan. The were told that if they wanted to get married in Catalan, they had to wait to the end of the day, after all the other couples were married, and after that, maybe someone would marry them in Catalan. The name of the judge is Antonio Lechón (literally Anthony Piglet).
The even more amazing thing is that the judge was getting an allowance (additional monies on top of his salary as judge) because he had demonstrated command of the Catalan language.

The couple sued the judge and they lost. The reason: judges are not required to speak Catalan, even if operating in Catalonia and, apparently, even if they are paid additional money for having demonstrated proficiency in the Catalan language.

But we should not be surprised, this is another clear demonstration that Catalonia is still in a colonial situation as it has been in the last 300 years.

It all started with the Decree of New Foundation issued on January 16th, 1716 by King Philip V. In the 6th paragraph, he clearly states:
"Las causas en la Real Audiencia (de Barcelona) se substanciaran en lengua Castellana, y para que por la mayor satisfacion de las partes, los incidentes de las Causas, se traten con mayor deliberacion, mando que todas las Peticiones, presentaciones de Instrumentos, y lo demas que se ofreciere, se haga en las Salas...." (this can be summarized as 'all proceedings in the Barcelona Supreme Court will be held in Castilian languange only').
For the first time in the history of Catalonia (and the County of Barcelona), Castilian was imposed as the only language that could be used in legal procedings. Before that date (1716), Catalan and Latin (in some documents) were used. Castilian was, up to that point, a foreign language.

This Decree has never been revoked and it is therefore, legally speaking, still applicable. For this reason, we should not be surprised about Mr. Piglet winnimg the case.

Conclusion: Never get married by a Piglet!!!

By the way, since we are talking about pigs, let me tell you a free translation of a joke that Johnny Tastavins forwarded to me yesterday:

José Maria Aznar, Eduardo Zaplana, Ángel Acebes were driving to downtown Madrid in a stretched limo to meet Zapatero. When they were still in the outskirts of Madrid, three pigs suddenly appeared in the middle of the road. The driver was unable to avoid them, hit them and killed them on the spot. The three politicians of the conservative Popular Party got out of the car and inspected the damage to the Party's limo and noticed that it was severely dented. When Rajoy saw the extent of the damage, he got mad and told the driver: "Go right now and find out who the owner of these three pigs is, I am going to sue him. We will wait for you here". After a couple of hours, they saw the driver staggering towards them. He was drunk, had red eyes and a smiley face. Zaplana asked him: "What happened? Did you find that bastard?". The driver nodded and said "it was a farmer and he gave me this expensive bottle of brandy, his wife gave me this box of cigars and his daughter gave me three blow jobs".
Acebes interjected, "what did you tell them?.
The driver answered. "I just told them that I was the driver of Aznar, Zaplana and Acebes, that I had an accident and I had killed three pigs".


Miquel Marzabal Galano said...

I still don't understand how someone can get away with this and even get paid additional salary for proving to be capable to use Catalan language.
I think only independence could provide Catalonia with essential tools to avoid this kind of discrimination.

Rab said...

#Miquel: absolutely spot on.
While Catalonia is part of Spain, cultural and economic decline awaits.
This would be unthinkable in any other country in the world -except in ultra-nationalist Spain of course.
Can anyone imagine this happening in a normal country like Canada or Belgium?

Garci said...

I agree with you that old laws should be properly updated, and in this case, judges in Catalonia should speak in Catalan if the 'clients' ask for it.
Rab comments remind me how normal a country is Canada: Montreal: the most famous university of Canada is English speaking: Mc Gill, not like a abnormal country like Spain where there is no castilian-speaking university in Barcelona. In a normal country like Canada, there are french-speaking colleges in Alberta, while you can't find catalan-speaking colleges in Madrid. In a normal country like Canada, nationalist quebecois parties are receding, while in a abnormal country like Spain this is still to be seen. Everything depends on which issues you select, rab..sectarism is an old-fashioned policy that, as we can see, is still the most effective one with short-minded people

Rab said...

Garci dixit
where there is no castilian-speaking university in Barcelona

What a load of mince.
Garci, for your information, the Catalan students associations are fed up that non-Catalan students (either monolingual Spaniards -excuse the redundancy- or foreigners) are asking lecturers to switch from Catalan to Spanish –even when the classes are ‘scheduled’ in Catalan.
The vast majority of classes in Catalan universities in Barcelona are in Spanish because the lecturer chooses to do so and because there are more Spanish-speaking lecturers. Catalan universities don’t have a language policy; it is up to individual departments and lecturers.
End of story.

What is revealing about Spain’s way of dealing with Catalonia is that there are more Departments of Catalan in the UK or Germany universities than in Spain (I exclude the historically Catalan-speaking territories).

With respect to your statement about nationalist parties gaining ground in ‘abnormal’ Spain, do you include the Spanish nationalists of the PP as well?

Garci said...


Wow! do you mean that the Catalan-speaking and nationalist student lobbies have not gone any better than when I studied 15 years ago, when they would send letters to professors asking them to teach in Catalan in classes where 90% of the students where Castilian-speaking and getting quite successful?

Repeteixo: MCGILL (Montreal), official language: english. Any catalan university: official language: catalan. I agree with you Catalan should be further studied in the rest of the State, but in order to achieve coofficial status in some places it should be mother tongue of certain percentage of students.

I include those Spanish nationalist as well. Remember, I am a non-nationalist, some condition many would love to understand but will never get to it. Too smart for certain brains.

ian llorens said...

I do not know in which university you studied 15 years ago. I have two university degrees. I got one in the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and the other in the University of Barcelona (called "Central University" at that time). I finished my second study in 1992. I only got about 5% of may classes in Catalan, 95% in Spanish. Teachers teaching in catalan allowed both Catalan and Spanish in the exams. Many Spanish speaking teachers only allowed Spanish.

The latest 2006 poll on languages used at the university showed that only around 35% of the lectures were in Catalan, the rest were in Spanish.

Anyway as you know, I am a non orthodox nationalist.I believe that all Catalan universities should offer all their programs in Catalan (with some qualified exceptions, but also that they should make an effort to offer them in Spanish and English.
Why? I will tell you the truth.

For me the most important thing in a university is not the language used, but the quality of the education. We should try to attract highly qualified local and foreign teachers and also highly qualified foreign students (take the word foreign in both the literal and the nationalist acceptations). If the best teacher on nanotechnology is from UK and only speaks English, he should be hired and if the best professor of molecular diagnostics is from Soria and only speaks Castilian, we should hire him/her, too.
We should also try to attract talent/students from the rest of the world for two reasons, firts they would paid non subsidized out of state tuition and second some of them may decided to set roots in Catalonia and contribute to the prosperity and growth of our country.
However the public University should always warranty that the vast majority of the programs are available in Catalan, that's the only way to make sure that Catalan is a live language and not tribal oddity and remember, a big part of the local students, the ones whose parents contributed with taxes to pay for that education, are demanding it.

Regarding Canada, I agree with Rab that it is a totally different ball game. First, in Catalonia we have chose the route of bilingualisn and I think this is the right approach (with a bad execution, but the right approach, no ghettos.
That 90% of people in your class were Spenish speaking is an understatement. 100% of the people in you class were Spanish speaking, remember all Catalans speak Spanish. But if what you mean is that in a ramdom class where the teacher taught in Catalan, 90% of the students only understood Spanish. That's simply a lie, or I should say, wishful thinking.

Finally I would like to remind you that is was the English speaking Prime Minister Stephen Harper who introduced a motion in the Canadian Parliament that recognizes the Quebecois constitute a nation within a united Canada, in a surprise move aimed at countering an imminent Bloc Quebecois motion. And no one has called for a boucott to the Quebecois "cava".

Rab said...

Garci - Any catalan university: official language: catalan.

I repeat. Universities in Catalonia DO NOT have an official language policy, it is up to individual departments and lecturers. To claim otherwise is ignorance or willful manipulation.

I agree with you Catalan should be further studied in the rest of the State, but in order to achieve coofficial status in some places it should be mother tongue of certain percentage of students.

What an amazing statement.
Are you suggesting that migration flows should dictate language and cultural policy in the 21st century? Following your logic, Polish should be co-official language in many rural towns in Scotland -since there are many Polish immigrant families living there.
And English should be co-official in Costa del Sol (Malaga) and Benidorm at least. And Germany should be co-official in Majorca.
Urdu would be co-official in Bradford, England.
And the list goes on and on.
Following your bizarre logic, London then would have at least 10 co-official languages!
There is a wonderful Scottish word for this: havering.

Garci said...


You got it! that's exactly what I meant. I told you already that in my post about Ceuta. As a minimum, it should be as you say from departments in catalan universities: if a certain percentage of students with a different mother tongue in that school or course is higher than x (to define) then it is automatically a teaching language. Don't look at me that way! You are the one asking for autodetermination and democracy!! ;)

Roger said...

#Garci: you need your head examined mate. What's democracy got to do with migration flows and official languages??
I have the feeling Rab was taking the piss out of you since 'to haver' is a Scots word that means "to talk nonsense", which is pretty much what you are doing.

Garci said...


Maybe language interventionism is a more democratic option? Does that mean Franco was democratic in what regards to language policies? Can you expand your ideas about my nonsenses?

Joan said...

quedo parat noi...
salutacions des de casa!