The Manifesto of the Koiné Group, signed on March 31st 2016, proposes Catalan as the only official language of the independent Republic of Catalonia and has opened a new debate in both Catalan and Spanish society about the role of Castilian Spanish and Catalan here in Catalonia.
The manifesto claims that Castilian is an alien language that has been imposed by the state and that bilingualism is an abnormal situation.
You can read the Full Manifesto in Catalan Here.
The undersigned, all language students, philologists, linguists, teachers, writers, translators, jurists and professionals in similar areas, believe that, considering the real situation of the Catalan language and bearing in mind the constituent process that will soon begin in Catalonia as a result of the democratic mandate expressed last September 27th, they have an obligation to express what follows to the public.
1. That the Catalan language is the language of Catalonia, in the sense it is the indigenous language of the territory of Catalonia, where historically it has been formed and has evolved, and from where it extended to the Valencian Country and the Balearic Islands. It is the language that has always been spoken by the Catalan people.
2. That the Catalan language is not, however, in the normal situation of a territorial language in its own territory because, as a result of the annexation of the Principality of Catalonia by the Kingdom of Castile, Castilian, as the language of domination, coercively disputes this status of territorial language and has tried and continues trying to repressively displace Catalan from the areas of general linguistic use. This also happened in the Valencian Country from 1707, in Mallorca and Ibiza from 1715 and in Menorca from 1802. In the same way, French was imposed in the northern counties (now known as North Catalonia), following the annexation of this part of the Principality by the Kingdom of France in 1659.
3. We also affirm, as is often typical in processes of political and linguistic domination, the mechanism to achieve the implantation of Castilian in Catalonia has been and continues being the forced bilingualisation of the population. A process that took centuries and until 1939 was very precarious regarding the majority of the popular classes. However, the dictatorial regime of General Franco completed this process of forced bilingualisation through the political and legal repression of the use of Catalan, obligatory schooling and the extension of new media, all totally in Castilian, as well as the use of the arrival of immigration from Castilian-speaking territories as an involuntary instrument of linguistic colonisation.
4. We affirm that the constitutional regime of 1978 has reinforced the continuation of the political and legal imposition of Castilian in Catalonia. The legislation of the re-established Generalitat and the consequent linguistic policies have served to overcome this in certain areas and precariously halt the total minoritisation of Catalan at the hands of Francoism, but have not served to reverse the social norm of the use of Catalan being subordinated to Castilian, which conditions the daily use of the immense majority of speakers and takes us to an unfailing substitution of the language of the country for the language of the state.
5. We affirm that this process of substitution has been accelerating, so that the current situation of the Catalan language in the majority of areas of general use is extremely critical, to the point that at the present time, in Catalonia, it isn't the language chosen by any inhabitant to use to address someone they don't know. Neither is it the dominant language amongst the generations of the so-called "immersion". In the most populated areas, they know it but use it minimally. And, in parallel, the social marginalisation, the qualitative and structural degradation of the language has not stopped increasing and is on the way to making it a kind of dialect of Castilian.
1. The profound abnormality that means that in Catalonia (and in all the countries where Catalan is spoken), the normal linguistic reality in a country with immigration appears to be in some way reversed. The language of immigration (but only Spanish) takes, to all effects, the role of default language, of language of the country, of national language, and on the contrary, the language of the country is becoming private to a closed community that is reducing and will end up disappearing as often happens with languages of immigration. This abnormality is distorted by the majority of surveys that are done.
2. We denounce the political ideology of the so-called "bilingualism" that, from the spheres of power, has innoculated all the Catalan population since 1978 to justify the legal regime established by the Constitution and the Statute of Autonomy making them believe that the coexistence of two languages in Catalonia, both of them supposedly with the same status of officiality and equality of rights, is something natural, positive, enriching and democratic. In reality, the bilinguistic ideology is nothing more than a way of hiding and legitimising the subordination of one language to another and the consequent process of linguistic substitution that Catalan society suffers. The slowness of this process encourages the mirage that social bilingualism can allow the success of a minoritised language and a balanced situation betwen the indigenous and alien languages.
3. We denounce the arguments of some political groups that, under the cover of bilinguistic ideology, propose that, in the future Catalan Republic, the linguistic abnormality continues being guaranteed and becomes the false normality of the republic.
1. The urgency of becoming aware of the social problem that the linguistic breakdown created by Spanish domination constitutes for Catalan society, an awareness that is now missing for the majority of citizens and many political leaders. It is necessary that everyone understands that one of the main problems of state of the new republic, perhaps the most important one, will be the linguistic problem because it affects the very basis of social cohesion.
2. We state the necessity that this linguistic awareness informs the public debate of the constituent process and the constitutional consensus, if we don't want the new constitution to be a way of trapping us in a false linguistic problem, which impedes or even makes it impossible to solve by the only possible ways: a) the restoration of Catalan to the status of territorial language of Catalonia (and the same for Occitanian in the Vall d'Aran) b) the reversal of the practice of systematic and generalised subordination of the use of Catalan (or of Occitanian) to the use of Castilian and c) the progressive recovery of the genuine language.
3. Finally we state the necessity, as a result of becoming linguistically aware, of the creation of a broad citizen's movement for linguistic normalisation that counts on the maximum number of commitments to behaviour designed to overcome linguistic subordination; a movement that has to include everybody, whatever their origin and whatever their initial language might be.
4. We definitively state that we incorporate into the constituent process the will to make the Catalan language the integrating axis for all our citizens within a framework of the public acceptance of multilingualism as an individual and social asset, with all the necessary measures to guarantee that everybody feels recognised and included in the building of a normal country, which is also normal regarding its language.
Universitat de Barcelona, 31 de març de 2016
Signen els Premis d’Honor de les lletres catalanes següents:
signen el manifest els filòlegs, lingüistes, catedràtics i professors
de secundària, mestres i pedagogs, traductors, juristes en dret
lingüístic, tècnics de planificació lingüística, sociolingüistes,
assessors lingüístics, correctors, ex-directors generals de Política
Lingüística i ex-consellera d’Ensenyament següents:
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