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The Language Crusade

For the last 18 months, my friend Lluís has been helping me improve my grasp of the Catalan language or rather, Mallorquín, a sub-species of that idiom. One of the many insights he shared with me over time is his opinion, a pessimist view, that Mallorquín will simply cease to exist as a language within the next 50 years. According to Lluís, linguists rate the viability of a spoken language in five levels, with the first being the highly active level and the fifth being the level of extinction. Mallorquín, he argues, is on level three at the moment, sure to be heading for level four within twenty years or so.

Under Franco, Mallorquín was not officially endorsed. It was not taught at school for forty years. Since the dictator’s death, Mallorquín has swung back or rather, Catalan has, to the status of co-official language.

The new Govern Balear under José Ramón Bauzá and his Partido Popular (PP) is currently politicizing the language debate in Mallorca with a so-called law on linguistic normalization, effectively removing the requirement for public officials to be able to speak Catalan. PP’s aggressive and negative stance towards Catalan/Mallorquín has been known for some time.

Some Mallorcan town halls such as Manacor, Inca, Sa Pobla, Alcúdia (see photo above) and Pollença are opposing Bauzá’s political crusade by approving Catalan/Mallorquín as Mallorca’s own language. The linguistic department of the Universitat de les Illes Balears is in opposition as well, as are a number of institutos (secondary schools) and guarderias/escoletes (nurseries).

We will all find out who the winner will be in this language crusade. If we are still around in 50 years time that is.

The photo (top) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of mallorcadiario.com. The photo (centre) was taken in Alcúdia, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 30th, 2012. The time was 13:09:37. The photo (bottom) was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 6th, 2012. The time was 11:54:15.

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