It’s only wurdz

 

 

The regional government of Cataluña recently passed a law saying that at least fifty percent of all films released in the Autonomous Region must be dubbed into Catalan. The moguls of Hollywood gave them the finger, and have gone the complete reverse of what the law demands by not even dubbing the films into Castellano – Spanish to you and me – but will now only supply them in the original version with subtitles added. Hurray for Hollywood! is all I can say

According to Luis Hernández de Carlos, whoever he might be, it’s not about the money, it’s about the principle, (a phrase I hear myself oft repeating – as if!). The major movie makers don’t like being told what to do, particularly when it’s enshrined in law. The distributors association say that they are already losing money because of this action and fear that there will be permanent cinema closures, and not just the one-day event they had recently in response to the new law.

But the cinema dearies needn’t worry to much about the extra cost (which they aren’t worried about anyway, just the principle) because the government of Cataluña has said they will pay the cost of dubbing of any films that distribute over fifty copies, which gives a bit of a clout across the ear of any small independent producer, who’s struggled to get the money together in the first place to make his obra de arte.

Marvellous, though, isn’t it, that at a time of the deepest economic crisis Spain has found itself in virtually since they began keeping record of such things, a regional government is prepared to pay out millions of taxpayers euros (and hand them over to production companies that aren’t known for being particularly poverty-stricken) just so that they can stamp their feet and say, “My language is better than yours is, nah, nah, nah!”

I’m all for protecting one’s heritage, but I’ve always felt that this sort of thing is linguistic fascism, forced on all and sundry by a load of academics and politicians. Yes, Catalan is a recognised language of Spain, but the official language of the country is Spanish, which almost everyone in Cataluña speaks, even though they won’t admit to it at times and even going so far refuse to speak to someone speaking Castellano. (As far as the European Union is concerned, Catalan is not recognised as an official language.)

There are three four officially recognised languages in Spain; Castellano, which virtually everyone speaks, whether as a first or second language, Euskara, the language of the Basque country, which about 600,000 speak as a first language, Gallego from Galicia, with three million speakers, and Catalan, with a about four million parlantes. Various other regions try to pass their dialect off as a language, particular those in Valencian, where I live, and will go to great linguistic lengths to try and prove that it is actually is a real, honest-to-God language in it’s own right, but it gives me no end of delight that the best they can do to get it recognised is for it to be called Valenciano-Catalan, which they usually admit through gritted teeth.

Personally, I don’t give a verbal phrase, subjunctive or fig about the obsessions these people have over the way the chat in their daily lives. What concerns me is that while they may be asserting their rights over their heritage, they are effectively damaging the future of their children, who, without an internationally recognised language will not be able to make their successful way in the world. This struck me forcefully many years ago when I went to Anglesey in North Wales and discovered that children there are taught Welsh as a first language – to me a language that’s full of l’s, p’s and a lot of spittle – and where they weren’t even allowed to speak English in the playground. What sort of future do they have, just as what sort of future does a child have whose first language in only spoken in three parts of Spain, as is Catalan, (Cataluña, Valencia and Majorca), or even worse, in one Autonomous Region, as is Euskara and Gallego?

So I suggest that the primping politicos of Cataluña get off their linguistic high horse and let the local kids watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the first film to suffer the dubbing boycott) in a language they understand, and not lose the pleasure of the experience by having to read subtitles.

 If you would like to know more about Spain, visit my web site, www.derekworkman-journalist.com , and Spain Uncovered.

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