Galicia: right-wing campaign to finish off the language?

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Mon Jun 9 15:49:14 UTC 2008

In my post of 1 June, I expressed surprise at an odd comment by the
President of the Galician Xunta during a press conference down in
Madrid. The Voz de Galicia columnist Roberto Blanco Valdés also took
exception to this and here's a translation of his article:-

Annoyed, it seems, by journalists' insistence on asking him about
linguistic imposition in Galicia, the President of the Xunta last
Thursday revealed the existence of an alleged plot against Gallego
involving everyone on the Right. Or, as he put it, 'not only
politicians but also all the ranks of the Right'. It's possible that
Sr Touriño has got privileged information and that we are on the brink
of a right-wing campaign to finish off the language which, as we all
well know, every member of the Xunta has spoken since childhood. But
it's also possible that the President has become, unwittingly, the
spokesperson for a long-standing nationalist accusation – according to
which all those who don't share their language policy are right wing,
if not actually fascist enemies of the people.

In fact, what's certain is that many socialist delegates were included
in this group in the past, when the Galician Socialist Party didn't
see itself obliged, as it does now, to defend linguistic propositions
it never shared. And it's even possible that Touriño himself has been
described in the same way as he now happily describes those who don't
share the language policy of the government over which he presides.

Whatever the case, it's to be expected of a President who in his youth
defended our liberties that he now – with ever greater reason –
prepares to defend these by denouncing not only hypothetical campaigns
against Gallego but also real campaigns endured by those who don't
share the linguistic credo of a radical nationalism.

For example those suffered by teachers who, as victims of well-known
fascist techniques, are featured on hundreds of posters as being
responsible for the extinction of Gallego in the University of
Santiago, where officially Spanish doesn't exist. Or those suffered by
the teachers who receive identical and anonymous accusations in their
offices or homes. Or those suffered by citizens who are quickly made
the subject of official suits brought by a private entity [The
Committee for Linguistic Normalisation] with the aim of intimidating
them. Or, going further, the campaign which resulted yesterday in
Galicia Bilingüe being made the subject of police action. These are
real campaigns. The one announced by Touriño has yet to make itself

If the President had any doubts about the atmosphere in which many of
these initiatives against freedom and pluralism are forged, it would
be enough for him to recall the verses of Manuel Maria. Reproduced in
a poster stuck up a few weeks ago in the Law Faculty of Santiago
University, they invited the undergraduates [in Gallego] to 'defend
the language as it is - with rage, with fury, with machine guns. With
tanks, with planes, with your fists'. The Falangists would be

For some reason, re-reading this article has reminded me that a
Spanish friend told me this week the Xunta will give you a 100 euros
if you elect a Galician name for your child. Say Xoan instead of Juan,
for example. Can this really be true? Or is it just a canard? And what
is the Gallego version of the still all-powerful María?

Finally – Here's the snazzy new web site of the Pontevedra Council,
just announced. The logo features a seagull saying Ola but not,
incidentally, the response I make to those trying to steal my Sunday
lunch in Vegetables Square. The home page is only in Gallego, as are
all the others I've clicked. But there may some Spanish hidden in the
site somewhere. If you want the weather, click P!Meteo. And remember
that moderado does not mean moderate but strong. Or, when it comes to
rain, heavy. Believe me.

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