Language in Mallorca is a pretty complicated issue, or so it would seem to the outsider.
Before my wife and I came to Mallorca to settle here 22 years ago we prepared ourselves for the move by taking language classes. Upon our arrival here, we soon realized that we had learnt the wrong language. We had taken Spanish lessons, when in fact everybody in Mallorca spoke Mallorquín amongst themselves.
We also found out soon enough that prior to our arrival language had been an issue of quite severe political supression, mainly during the Franco years (1936-1975). People still fall silent and start whispering when one asks them about that particular period in their lives.
A married Mallorcan couple that we have known for years now speak Mallorquín at home. They also converse in Spanish with us. During their schooling, however, they had not been allowed to learn their own language but were taught Castellano only. As a result of this they find it pretty dificult today to read a letter from the townhall or anyone else that is written in Mallorquín, even though this is their own language and they speak it everyday. To write a letter in Mallorquín they find a near impossible task; they have never learnt this skill.
I consider it futile to protect plants, birds, bats and whatever other animal but not to protect the human right to speak and learn and practise one’s mother’s language. I also consider it wrong for people to come to this island and tell our hosts what they should speak and how they should live their lives.
I went to the Festival de Poesia de la Mediterrània last night, in Palma’s Teatre Principal. Thirteen poets recited some of their work there, plus Biel Mesquida, the organizer, himself also a poet and writer. If I counted correctly, there were ten languages spoken on stage: Mallorquín, Catalan, Castellano, Gallego, Maltese, English, Italian, Slovenian, Danish and Esperanto. Each and every one of these idioms is beautiful and valuable, is warm, human and dignified. The almost exclusively Mallorcan audience had no problem relating to any of the poets whatever their particular language.
If we don’t value people (and their culture, their souls, their dignity and their language) then there is no point in attaching values to the rare Robust Orchid (Orchis robusta) or the Red Kite (Milvus milvus), or indeed any plant or any animal. In fact there would be no point, fullstop.
The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 22nd, 2009. The time was 12:26:31.