CATENGESP


NOT IN FRONT OF THE FOREIGNERS

(01/12/2007)

Aquest article no estā traduīt al catalā; es mostra la seva versiķ en anglčs

On La Caixa's peculiar telephonic treatment of foreign people.

CATALONIA TODAY – SECTION: LONG-TERM RESIDENT - ARTICLE SEVENTY-EIGHT


The other day my girlfriend called up the home insurance department of the Caixa d'Estalvis i Pensions de Barcelona, to see if they would cough up for a burst pipe in the kitchen. A recorded voice offered her a choice of languages: Catalan, Castilian, French, German or English. She pressed Catalan. The voice then requested her DNI number. She gave it and was again asked for her language of preference, but this time, to her surprise, Catalan had been dropped from the list. She pushed Castilian and finally got a sentient human being on the other end of the line. On inquiring why the Catalan option was no longer available, she was informed that her ID number revealed she was a foreigner (she is, indeed, Dutch) and so naturally wouldn't know Catalan.
She was flabbergasted, not least by the fact that this ridiculous linguistic policy was being implemented by Catalonia's flagship bank. Ridiculous, because if in our own small circle of friends alone, there are Catalan-speakers from Ireland, Germany, Peru, Tanzania, Morocco, France, Italy, Argentina and the United States of America, then in the Principality at large there are doubtless scores of thousands more. What is worse, it's not just the Caixa which finds the existence of such people inconceivable: many Catalans have a dazzlingly obtuse tendency to instantly switch to Spanish as soon as they clock that the other person wasn't born within the sight of Montserrat. We gastarbeiters could be forgiven for occasionally feeling that it's us and us alone - or some of us, at least - who are keeping the language alive and kicking, even as the locals blame us for hounding it into an early grave.


- Textos i contingut: Matthew Tree - Disseny i programaciķ: Nac -