CATENGESP


FRINGE DEFICITS

(11/02/2007)

Aquest article no està traduït al català; es mostra la seva versió en anglès

On the plight of the Catalan-speaking population in Aragon

(CATALONIA TODAY – SECTION: LONG-TERM RESIDENT - ARTICLE TWENTY-EIGHT)

I first got to know Joaquín Arqué in his native Fraga, the capital of what is known as the Franja ('fringe'): the southernmost strip of Aragon in which Catalan is widely spoken.
I met him again last week, at a party outside Candasnos, a village half an hour's drive north of Fraga. I mentioned that they didn't seem to understand Catalan at the local hotel. He looked at me in alarm and explained that Candasnos was the first Spanish-speaking town beyond the Franja and added: 'If you speak Catalan to the locals, they'll ignore you completely'. Once you're beyond the fringe, he explained, anti-Catalan feelings run high.
Which, he added, is why the Aragonese government refuses to give official status to the Catalan spoken within its borders, which means that it cannot be taught in schools. This, despite the fact that the Franja has the highest percentage of Catalan speakers per capita in Spain. (Joaquín's own grandmother could not even speak Spanish).
I wonder how a Spanish-speaker, when crossing from Aragon into Catalonia, would react to being 'ignored completely' in the first Catalan-speaking town he came across, or if he discovered that Spanish was banned in local schools? I think there would be one humdinger of a scandal. I think we would never hear the end of it.
So the next time the centralist media in Spain denounce the supposed – some would say completely imaginary - persecution of Spanish in Catalonia, as is their wont, please remember the very real plight of Joaquín and his tens of thousands of fellow Catalan-speakers on the Franja, most of them still unable to read and write in their mother tongue. As used to be the case with nearly all Catalan speakers in Spain before 1975. The year Franco died.


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