Saturday, January 22

"We don't have a language. We have a problem"

The recent changes in the Spanish Senate continue to gather attention everywhere. A very vocal response to the issue comes from writer Manuel Rivas, who had an article in Galician published in the Spanish-language newspaper, El País.

The article, titled As Senadoras, o galego e o Espírito Santo ("The Senators, Galician and the Holy Spirit"), deals with the first multilingual Senate meeting, in which Galician Senator, María Jesús Sáinz, chose to speak in Castilian, as opposed to exercising her newly acquired rights and speak Galician instead. The other nacionalista parties did not applaud her choice. Basque Senator, Miren Leanizbarrutia, said her part in Basque during her turn, as was expected, while the translators in the booth took care of relaying her message in Castilian to the non-Basque Senators in real time. In her speech, Leanizbarrutia added in Galician, directed at Senator Sáinz: "É unha pena que vostede sexa galega e non faga uso da lingua na que Rosalía de Castro escribiu tan fermosos versos" ("It's a shame that you, being Galician, don't make use of the language in which Rosalía de Castro wrote such beautiful verses").

Manuel Rivas starts off the article by saying that "we don't have a language; we have a problem" ("Nós non temos un idioma. Temos un problema."). The language and the problem referring directly to Galician, as the author explains that, for some, speaking anything else other than Castilian is simply "an expense", not even worth the "price of an earpiece", i.e. what the Senators use to hear the translations. He reveals that "I thought I spoke Galician and what I speak is a problem."

Rivas's point revolves around what being part of a "historic moment" truly is. For the other political parties, having spoken in the languages of their autonomous regions was the historic moment. For the Galician Senator, if she had spoken Galician, that would've been her historic moment; choosing not speak it, even when she could, makes it now two historic moments.

The Galician writer sums up his point with the following:
Se o que temos non é un idioma senón un problema, ou un Idioma ao que chamamos Problema, pois máis que política lingüística o que nos fai falta é ir ao santo Freud.
Ou ao Espírito Santo.
("If what we have isn't a language, but a problem, or a Language which we call Problem, then, more than linguistic policy, what we need is to go to the holy Freud.
Or to the Holy Spirit.")
If you speak even only Spanish or Portuguese and are interested in the issue, read the entire article, beautifully written in Galician. If you speak both Spanish and Portuguese, you've probably read through it all already.

4 comments:

John Cowan said...

Well, I don't read any of these languages, so I ran the Galician through Google Translate for both Spanish and Portuguese (Google thinks it's Spanish, presumably because of the orthography). Sample paragraph:

Os políticos andan como tolos detrás do "momento histórico". Alí onde hai un "momento histórico" alí procuran aparecer todos. Resulta conmovedora esa querenza polo "momento histórico". Tamén no fútbol hai a teima do "partido histórico". De tal xeito que se facemos caso dos fanáticos todas as tardes de domingo serían "históricas". "Eses momentos tan momentáneos", que diría Cantinflas. Mais, no fondo, a xente sabe o que é "histórico" e o que non é.

Politicians are like Toulouse you do after "historic moment." Ali onde hai a "historic moment" Ali try all appear. It is poignant that querenza polo "historic moment." Tamen football no Teima hai to do "historic match." Xeito such that if two fans facemos all Sunday afternoons would be as "historic." "Esses momentary moments, which would Cantinflas. Mais, no background, to know or Xenta é "historic" that non é eo.

Politicians andan like fools behind the "historic moment". Where Ali hai un "historic moment" in there by trying all appear. Results conmovedora esa querenza polo "historic moment". Tamen fútbol hai to insist on the "broken record". Such that if we develop xeito case of fanatics all Sunday afternoons Serian "historic." "Eses tan momentary moments" that would say Cantinflas. Further, in fondo, the Xenta know what is "historical" and what is non.

Pretty clear, especially looking at both.

joaquim said...

Por lo que me comentó hace un tiempo una amiga gallega, la población gallegohablante está bastante dividida en sus formas de ver y usar el idioma. De hecho, existen -wikipedia lo confirma- hasta tres normativas distintas (más o menos próximas al portugués) y los hablantes usan una u otra según su ideología... @John: Supongo que el artículo de El País está escrito con la normativa oficial (la más cercana al castellano) y que con ortografía portuguesizante, google lo entendería mejor. De todas formas, temo que el grupo mayoritario en Galicia está formado por los que directamente no usan la lengua en ninguna de sus variantes.
Una aclaración para quienes lean el artículo y no conozcan la política española: Mariano Rajoy es el líder del "Partido Popular" (partido conservador español); es gallego, pero según el autor del artículo nunca habla en gallego.

Filius Lunae said...

Sí, tienes razón sobre el gallego. Así es, existe esa división.

Algo con lo que yo sí estaría de acuerdo es que se eliminara del gallego estándar esa distinción entre s y z del castellano (hay variadades del gallego en las que no existe). Pero, bueno, mira, yo no soy gallego ni vivo en Galicia, así que les dejo ese trabajo a los linguistas de esa tierra.

Las variades del norte de Portugal se empiezan a acercar cada vez más al gallego mientras más al norte vayas. Luego, están los dialectos gallegos de la frontera, que se escuchan medio portugueses... ya te sales de allí, y se empieza a escuchar la gran influencia del castellano.

En un mundo ideal, a mí si me gustaría ver que el gallego se escribiera con la ortografía basada en el portugués, y no la actual basada en el castellano.

Pero, en fin, esa es la situación presente.

John Cowan said...

If Galician were written in fully Portuguese orthography, it would be Portuguese, or near enough so that it would become politically difficult to continue to call it a language of Spain exclusively. A similar issue arises with the name "Aranese", which no one denies to be a sub-variety of the Gascon variety of Occitan, but is given a separate name to de-emphasize the fact that Gascon and Occitan are mostly spoken outside Spain.

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