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Dilluns  27.01.2014  10:13

Autor/s: Antoni Nadal

People's Party concerted effort against Catalan in Balearic Islands

The media, public administration, and education are the three pillars that sustain a community. If one of the three legs falters, the society trembles.


The media, public administration, and education are the three pillars that sustain a community. If one of the three legs falters, the society trembles.

After his investiture, the president of the Balearic Islands, José Ramón Bauzá (Madrid, 1970) made it crystal clear: 'Spanish is our language and Catalan is a co-official language.' And from the Autonomous Community elections of May 22, 2011 to the present, the linguistic policy of the Balearic Government in hands of the People's Party, which only received support from 26.8% of the eligible voters (194,680 votes out of 726,265 registered voters), has done all it can to take the three-legged foundation apart.

Let's look at it in broad strokes:

With respect to the media:

• Closing Mallorcan Radio and Television. 

• Eliminating ability to have Catalan as an option in the TDT multiplex. 

• Broadcasting movies on IB3 Television exclusively in Spanish

• Not allowing coverage of topics related to the Catalan language or that aren't positive about the Balearic Government on IB3 TV and Radio. This censure on the part of the management has been denounced by the Union of Journalists of the Balearic Islands.

With respect to the public administration:

• The knowledge of Catalan will not be generally required in order to apply for public-sector jobs with the Balearic Islands public administration, or to accept such jobs (according to the 12th additional disposition of Law 9/2012, of July 19, which is a modification of Law 3/2007, of March 27, on public civil service in the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands).

With respect to education:

• Eliminating language education support teams from the Education Services in Catalan department of the Education Council in Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, and reducing them by one third in Mallorca.

• Suspending Catalan teacher's education classes that form part of Formation and Reeducation Plan

• Ignoring schools' linguistic plans

• Expressing scorn for the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB) the official institution that should be consulted for all Catalan language related issues

• Balearic Government initiative to segregate children by education language (Resolution of the Minister of Education, Culture and Universities of May 28, 2012; it should be noted that as the 2012-13 school year opened, only 13% of parents and guardians had chosen Spanish as the vehicular language for new students in the Balearic Islands). 

• Implementing, during the 2013-2014 school year of the 'Integrated Language Treatment system (TIL) in all non-university education centers of the Balearics, that is, the unilateral application of trilingualism in the school system

• It has been said that Decree 15/2013, from April 19, with which the Integrated Language Treatment system is implemented in the non-university education centers in the Balearic Islands represents the end of the language model in the Balearic Island schools that had been used over the last 30 years. While the Balearic Government has defended this initiative as a first step toward education in three languages, the educational community and parliamentary opposition have accused the Government of going too far too quickly given the scarce educational rigor evident in its implementation and the lack of resources, and see it as an attempts to marginalize the Catalan language, which is native to the Balearic Islands, given that the presence of Catalan in the classroom is reduced by 2/3. According to a declaration by the professors of the Educational School of the University of the Balearic Islands on October 8, 2013, 'the forced vehicular use of the Spanish language in a third of the subjects taught is obviously not intended to improve the knowledge of English or any other foreign language, but rather, to simply diminish the presence of Catalan.

With respect to the unity of the Catalan language:

• Abandoning the Institut Ramon Llull

• Using the phrase "co-official language that is different from Spanish" in order to refer to the Catalan language in official publications.

• Refusal of the PP to recognize the unity of the Catalan language in the Franja de Aragó.

• Illegalizing the display of teachers' protest symbols that use the four-barred flag or bow in elementary and high schools (Law 9/2013, of December 23, on the use of institutional symbols in the Balearic Islands)

We should add, in addition:

• Not holding a meeting of the Social Council of the Catalan Language

• Eliminating grants and aid to cultural activities, like Catalan Book Week, the Book Fair, the Manacor Fair and the Mallorca Space

• Closing the Mallorca Space in Barcelona and the Illa de Llibres a Palma due to the lack of support from the Council of Mallorca, the Balearic Government and the Institute of Balearic Studies

• Substituting the name of Palma with the false 'Palma de Mallorca' (Law 6/2012, of June 6, a modification of Law 23/2006, of December 20, on Palma de Mallorca being the capital city) which is unacceptable and contrary to the traditional toponomy in the Catalan language according to the Department of Catalan Philology and General Linguistics of the University of the Balearic Islands

• Allowing the possilibity that the placenames in the Balearics have both official Spanish and Catalan versions (first final disposition of Law 9/2012, of July 19, of modification of Law 3/2007, of March 27, of public civil service of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands), and the change of the official name of the city and municipality of Maó which becomes Maó-Mahón, against the opinion of the Department of Catalan Philology and General Linguistics of the University of the Balearic Islands.

• Last December 10, the Balearic Parliament declared that the "Catalan Countries"—a well known term used to refer to the entire historic, cultural, and linguistic area where Catalan is spoken—"don't exist and that the Balearic Islands don't form part of any 'Catalan Country'".

A recent editorial in Última Hora, a widely-read, leading newspaper in the Balearics, summed up the offensive of the Government against the Catalan language with these words: "President Bauzá intends to take his attack on the Catalan language to the end, through laws, decrees, and decree-laws, which began with the elimination of the requirement that Catalan be a requisite for becoming a civil servant and which has continued by blocking linguistic immersion in the schools. The open support to those who defend his outlandish model of Catalan standardization in the Balearics should not be overlooked. ("The useless struggle of the Government against the bows", January 18, 2014)

Halfway through the 8th Legislature, it's clear that the Government has taken advantage of its absolute majority obtained in the 2011 elections to the Balearic Parliament in order to restrict the Catalan language in areas of official use, education, and the media, suppressing the Balearic's own official language and breaking the harmony agreements that were established with the Law of Linguistic Normalization in the Balearic Islands, approved unanimously in 1986.

Antoni Nadal
Professor of Administrative Language

This article was originally published in the Journal of Language and Law blog of the Public Administration School of Catalonia, Generalitat de Catalunya. It is translated and published here with permission.