Article published at Diari Ara, 22nd June 2016, by Auri Garcia.
In Catalonia half the population has Spanish as their language of choice, 87 instances of discrimination against the Catalan language were recorded between 2007 and 2015, including 11 cases of physical assault.
“Back where I come from, you literally get your teeth kicked in for arguing that all Spaniards are equal and should remain united. For saying that an Andalusian and a Catalan are equal. To be allowed to speak Spanish, as well as Catalan. Or to watch [Spain’s national team play] a football match [on a large screen] in the street”. This statement by Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera at a campaign rally in Sevilla have stirred controversy in the last few days, prompting some to respond to Rivera by actually providing hard data on language and discrimination.
Catalonia’s Institut d’Estadística (Idescat) conducts surveys on language use among the population of Catalonia. Their figures indicate that over half the people in Catalonia use Spanish as their go-to language on a daily basis. In 2003 there was almost a tie between Catalan (46 per cent) and Spanish (47.2 per cent). But in 2013, the last year for which data are available, the Spanish language had a 14 point lead on Catalan, with 50.7 vs 36.3 per cent, respectively.
Out of the ten areas surveyed, the only one where Catalan dominates is interaction with school mates, where 42.9 per cent reported to speak Catalan or mostly Catalan, whereas 30.8 per cent spoke mostly or only Spanish. Out of the other areas, service encounters in banks showed almost a tie, with Spanish leading by only one point. The gap between the two languages broadened when respondents were asked what language they spoke at their workplace or when shopping. In larger retail areas, 48.7 per cent of the people in Catalonia speak only or mostly Spanish, while only 33.6 per cent speak only Catalan or more Catalan than Spanish.
With regards to language discrimination, a report by Catalan NGO Plataforma per la Llengua —a copy of which was delivered to the European Parliament by several Catalan MEPs— records 87 instances of language discrimination by the administration between 2007 and 2015. Forty-four occurred in Catalonia, thirty in Valencia, 12 in the Balearics and 1 in the Catalan-speaking eastern strip of Aragon. 2015 saw the highest number of complaints: 13 in Catalonia and 4 in the other Catalan-speaking regions.
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