Catalan News Monitor
Mr. Escuder, you are the president of Plataforma per la Llengua (Platform for the Language), can you tell us why you like to refer to yourselves as “the Language’s NGO”?
Because we are an NGO. And we are the largest NGO in the field of the Catalan language, since we are fully supportive of the defense of the linguistic rights of Catalan speakers.
Could you analyse the situation of the language of Catalonia and the other Catalan-speaking territories?
Well, to make it short, we can say that Catalan is an average language in the context of the languages of Europe and the world, with great vitality, tradition and a fine literature. As history has turned out, it has 2 states against it, and this does not allow it to position itself fully as a normal language. That means that Catalan speakers do not have the same linguistic rights as speakers of other languages of similar dimensions. We could say that it is a language that is where the states do not have enough force (new technologies and the ability to attract new speakers for example), it is a language that is friendly. But wherever the states are in the driving seat, there’s no way of advancing. I’m talking about questions such as the officiality of Catalan in Europe and everything that this implies, the lack of a state status it does not have, product-labelling, games and leisure, instructions, medical prospects, the clinical death that Catalan suffers from in the field of Justice , discrimination in the territory due to language issues, and a long list of other factors.
On July 13th, you presented a motion in the Spanish Senate to demand full reciprocity in the audiovisual media. Why? Will this motion be debated?
The motion has already entered the Spanish Senate registry and has the support of several groups, so we hope that in the next few days we can debate it at the plenary session. The purpose of this motion is to demonstrate the commitment of all MPs to the fact that the state should be multilingual and that it is clear that it has a commitment to CELRoM, that the state has ratified but fails to comply to. We hope they want to amend this and fulfill the charter, which would mean fulfilling their agreements and keeping their word.
We see that you have various campaigns going. What does the one called “Volem volar” (we want to fly) aim to achieve?
We simply demand that direct flights be recovered between Catalan-speaking Alguer (Alghero) in NW Sardinia and Catalonia. Until a year and a half ago we had direct flights and quite a few passengers. There have been flights that for 12 years have favoured the communication between Alguer and the rest of the Catalan-speaking territories and this has been very positive for everything, also for the language. Losing it represents a step backwards and we obviously do not want to take a step back.
Could you explain why there is an attempt to crush language immersion and impose many more hours of Spanish in Catalan schools?
In my opinion, it represents one of two things. Either a state view where not all languages are equal nor their speakers have the same rights, because if not, they would carry out a campaign to favour Catalan in all areas where it is in inferior conditions (and these campaigns do not exist, nor are they expected from those who are opposed to immersion). Or else simply an attempt to give Catalan the most marginal position possible. What is clear is that pedagogical criteria are not at the root of it, whatever they may say: we can demonstrate that the mastery of Spanish by Catalan adolescents is better than that of adolescents in Spanish monolingual areas.
From Plataforma per la llengua, what arguments could you give to enable foreigners to undertsand why Catalans want a Referendum of self-determination?
Well, apart from other very powerful arguments, such as economic ones, the capacity for taking decisions and infrastructure, for example, from a linguistic and cultural point of view Catalan and Catalan culture have never been taken up by the Spanish State as a true culture of its own with the same rights as Spanish. When a large portion of the population has seen that Spain (and France even less so, but now it is not the case that concerns us) will never treat the Catalan culture, language and its speakers as first class citizens, many Catalans have exhausted their patience and decided that they need a state of their own. We just want to be normal, like any citizen of countries like Hungary, Denmark or Greece, to give examples of languages with a similar number of speakers as Catalan.