The Catalan and Spanish language issue, from the comments

There are many issues to this Catalan predicament

Bob has been providing arguments to a more nuanced view. He has said that “Spanish is not all that far from being banned from public schools” in Catalonia. That is true, but to put it into context provides additional knowledge. The reality is much worse. 60% of Catalan children has the Spanish language as mother tongue (30%, Catalan language) All primary and secondary schools use Catalan as vehicular teaching language (with an hour a week of Spanish… or nothing) Basically, in practice, you are not allowed to decide in which language do you want your children to be taught. I am sure most of you will think that this cannot be true in a democratic country.

As the United Nations recognizes (21st of February, day of the mother tongue) children should be schooled in the mother tongue whenever possible. But 60% of Catalan children are denied this right by successive Catalan regional governments… 30 years and counting. This has produced a situation in which two generations of Catalan children with Spanish as mother tongue have systematically been denied the possibility to develop his potential mental abilities to the upmost, with the consequences that Tyler, in other contests, has commented regularly. They will forever occupy the lowest range of jobs in the Catalan economy. This is cultural supremacy to the core. You will not find this in any other democratic country… nor by a mile. I will leave for other time, perhaps, which characteristics the teachers and principals of the schools share.

The Spanish Constitutional Court has ruled several times against this discrimination, instructing the Catalan government to remedy the situation. To no avail. The regional government pays not attention, neither the central government or the civil society doing much. Civil society movements, very prominent in Catalonia, are basically arms of separatist parties. Still, the threat of the Constitutional Court is there, so better to get rid of this nuisance declaring independence.

That is from a guy named Felix.  Here are data from the government of Catalonia (pdf).


'you are not allowed to decide in which language do you want your children to be taught'

This is pretty much the case in Germany, where private schools are extremely rare. But then, Germany is a socialist hellhole.

The point is that school is not available in the language of the majority of people.

Somewhat - the real point is that there was no alternative to the language used in school. Which is exactly the case in Germany in terms of Turkish - basically no school in Germany provides a Turkish language environment for instruction.

Of course it has an interesting twist in that the 'minority' language is the one that dominates the school environment. You can see a similar profile (not sure about the school language, though after decades of the Spanish state fighting with ETA, one could assume that the situation is a bit different than in Catalonia) in terms of Basque, both in its official recognition (or non-recognition in France) and its demographics.

That Catalonia seems to have ignored - or willfully forgotten - how Spain treated its Basque citizens is interesting in its own way. The Spanish government does not have a credibility gap when it comes to dealing with anyone it considers a separatist, as the Catalonians now seem to be discovering.

Spain was less than kind to the native people of the Americas.

As far as I know, Basque is also used in the Basque Country schools but the demographics are quite different. Only a small fraction of Basques uses it routinelly.

For accuracy I just checked the numbers in Wikipedia:
In 2001, 11% used Basque at home, while 83% used Spanish and 5% both
In 2006, 25-53% were bilingual, 15-18% were passive bilingual (usde Basque with difficulty) and 31-57% only spoke Spanish. The ranges indicate variation between the three provinces of Basque Contry.

By the way, the numbers of knowledge of Basque (although maybe not as much its use at home) are increasing due to its use in school. It is a requirement for some jobs in the local public administration.

You should consider that while the fight against ETA was fierce, that involved ETA, not the Basques as a group. Indeed, the central government has had to rely on MPs from Basque nationalist parties (as well as Catalonian nationalist parties) for decades when either the main parties (PSOE and PP) failed to achieve majority by themselves (which has been most of the time). Basque Country has even more self-government than Catalonia already has, and that's quite a lot.

If you think that the Basque Country is or has been oppressed in the last 40 years, think again. Now that ETA is gone it is a pretty good place to live, with the 2nd highest per capita incomes of Spain (only below Madrid) and with better public finances by far than anyone else but Navarra (3rd) since they have an special fiscal arrangement. Catalonia is 4th in the rank of per capita income.

Local languages are used as vehicular language instead of Spanish in school for half of the time or more also in Galicia, Navarra, Valencia and Balearic Islands. Basically all of those with a cooficial language.

Just one small additional tidbit of information: In Catalonia it is illegal to label a bussiness only in Spanish. Labelling in Spanish is optional, while labelling in Catalonian is compulsory, or the bussiness will be fined.

...and the best goddamned food.

Private schools are not "extremely rare" in Germany. 9% of secondary school students in Germany are in private school, as compared to 8% in the US. ( In my own social circle in Germany, just about as many of my freinds sent their kids to private schools as did to public schools. It's considerable easier to do so than in the US, because education in Germany is voucherized, so you can send your kid to a private school for only a few extra $K/year.

Indeed the leader of the Social Democrats Martin Schulz attended a private (Catholic) school. Where because he was a bit thick, he failed his abitur twice.

As noted below, a Catholic school is generally not considered a private school in Germany, at all. Technically, of course it is, but apart from religious instruction, its curriculum tends to be exactly the same as that offered in public schools.

"Technically, of course it is, but apart from religious instruction, its curriculum tends to be exactly the same as that offered in public schools."

That's true of Catholic schools in the U.S., as well.

Yeah, I went to Catholic school in the US, and they teach evolution. The religion classes are held in the evenings and are optional.

The teaching of evolution in Catholic schools is not in any way remarkable. Biblical literalism is a largely Protestant phenomenon, owing to Sola Scriptura. St. Augustine was quite content to say that Genesis 1 might be an allegorical description of a process that took eons.

And it's looking like pretty soon every German child will begin each day singing "The Horst Wessel Song" in that (national) socialist hellhole.

Only after the BRD ceases to exist.

Nah. German socialists today are thoroughly internationalized (or to be more precise: americanized. They look at what Amercian progressivism is putting forth and then multiply it by a hundred and feel twice as moraly superior.)

children should be schooled in the mother tongue whenever possible

Clearly, children in Germany should be allowed to attend school in Turkish. This will do wonders for integration.

Nobody believes that in Germany, however. The emphasis here is on trying to increase German language support, starting as soon as possible.

Think Andrew M is laying on some sarcasm that you're not picking up.

It's hard to make friends if you don't understand the other kids in the park,


I'm glad someone finally challenged that "mother tongue" canard. They can learn the mother tongue where people have been learning the mother tongue for >100,000 year - from their mothers.

Children should learn the language of their nation first, and then learn the defacto international language - English.

If many Indians had not learned English the nation would still be stomping around barefoot in rice paddies trying to avoid human poop and cobras. Instead, they do tech support...

Absurd. Should Americans have learned hundreds of Native tongues ? 🙄

At some point the Maghreb should stop learning French. The French should learn Arabic. Not yet. 70 years from now? Maybe it doesn't make sense for French to exist. Arabic has been a lingua Franca for hundreds of years (pun intended!). No reason that France in 2150 should be speaking bastardized Latin. There's a common tongue for the immigrant population and it isn't French.

German is a pointless language as well. Switch to Arabic or Turkish. A language of the future.

The good governance answer is to prepare for the transition. Teach Arabic in Europe, and phase out dead white languages over a period of decades.

"Constitution" is a smokescreen

Constitution is what Rajoy decided it to be in the late 2000s

There was a political arrangement agreed upon by ALL Catalan parties and the government of Spain.

It was approved in Parliament of Spain in 2006

Rajoy blocked it in the Senate. even thought he was in opposition he had enough Senate legacy votes to block there.

Them he went to litigate it, eventually getting an Al-Gore/Bush like 6-4 decision against Catalonia.

Predictably, catalans no longer trust the central government, and support for Independence few massively since

Yep, this is the entire issue summed up in one comment. Tyler should make this the topic of a new post.

Whether the Catalan and Spanish parliaments and the Spanish government agreed upon the Statute or not is completely irrelevant. They knew full well that some articles within the Statute wouldn't survive constitutional scrutiny - the proposed law was nothing but the product of Catalan wishful thinking and irresponsibility from the central government, which literally promised they'd approve of "any statute the Catalan Parliament would produce". As if the goverment is allowed such prerrogative! The Constitutional Court is the ultimate arbiter. In Spain and other countries that employ similar institutional arrangements, laws are passed and signed in different cameras and then submitted to the CC for revision ALL THE TIME, and in Spain this is far from affecting Catalan laws exclusively. The articles the CC modified were all in clear defiance of the Law - that this simple fact would later, under the the design of the Catalan ruling class and their propaganda apparatus, become an unforgivable grievance against the people of Catalonia IS the real issue here.

A completely politicized court stacked with PP apppintees! What good has it done for the PP to fight the agreement in court? A win was obviously more important than the long term health of the country. Did they not think about the long term divisions within Spain that they were fostering?

The political party of the court didn't change anything. You don't even need to know much about law to understand that the Estatut was against the constitution. It was objectively ilegal.

A 6 -4 decision isn't "crystal clear"

Some judges thought so. And the decision was very politicised.

FOUR constitutional court judges thought the statute was perfectly within the constitution. So was the opinion of many others.

You will not find this in any other democratic country… nor by a mile.

Quebec does literally same thing. Nearly all countries enforce their language in education policy, with very limited outs for minorities, it's just less common when a subnational region does it.

A large majority of Quebec residents speak French as their native language, though. And there is English language schooling provided in Quebec, as your link shows (with disputes over how much they are allowed to limit it).

So it's not really the same as what Felix describes.

No common language = no nation

So Belgium, Switzerland, and Canada (among others) don't exist?

Good to know.

Switzerland is a confederacy. Belgium and Canada aren't real countries.

A confederal government isn't a nation?

Hey f**k you, buddeh!

No true Scotsman

They are real countries, but they both tend toward being two nations. There is a big differencew

Something that is not uncommon in hunan history

Gonna go the No True Scotsman route, eh?

Belgium is a joke. Canada is more serious but still a relic of the British and French imperial era.

Every country is a relic of its past, sheesh

Canada is a real country, but it's not really a nation-state. Neither is the UK, or more pertinently, Spain.

That doesn't mean they're bad places to live, or somehow illegitimate as states.

"This is cultural supremacy to the core. You will not find this in any other democratic country… nor by a mile."

How does it compare to the treatment of Russian in Estonia and Latvia? (That's a real, not a rhetorical question - it was a controversial issue when I visited those countries, but that was several years ago. The situations have many important differences, but I'm just interested in the strong general claim.)

It's complicated. For the moment there are many primary schools in Tallinn where Russian is the language of instruction, but at high school level at least some subjects are taught in Estonian. You cannot study in Russian at university level, even though this was possible in Soviet times. Many Russian parents prefer to send their children to Estonian-language schools, to help them integrate in the society. There is a lively debate in the society as to what is the best way to educate Russian-speaking children, with at least some Russians advocating early immersion (with support from bilingual teachers). This is very different from the Catalonian situation though, because Catalan and Spanish appear to be mutually intelligible, and Russian and Estonian are very different.

Thanks - the last bit is clear to me (as an okay Russian Speaker, but not at all an Estonian speaker), but the other details are useful and interesting.

More to the point how does it compare to Spain. The triumph of Castilian language has a lot to do with it being imposed. I would not find it very unlikely that it was not so long ago that the vast majority of Catalonians spoke Catalan at home in the past, the Spanish state long ago imposed its language supremacy on Catalonia, and Galicia, and the Basque Country and Navarre. I also think a little too much is made of the differences between Catalan and Spanish. They are very easy to learn one from the other, Catalan recently was considered to be far closer to Castilian than its near relation Occitan is to French, and that is not really that difficult. Galician was far more divergent, much closer to Portugese as spoken in the North than Spanish, yet it has moved closer to Castilian in the last century.

When Serbia was given the Austrian province of Carniola, Slovenia, at the end of WWI, the Slovene language basically needed to be reinvented, since very few younger than their 40s was capable of speaking the local slavic as much more than a country dialect. Remember that the Slavs conquered and settled the Eastern Alps as far as St. Gall a millennium earlier, and Styria was heavily slavic in early modern times. Another twenty years and I doubt it would have been possible to restore it.

These things can change rapidly.

Quebec is a paradoxical example. If you are an English-speaking native you can send your kids to either an English or a French school. Many Anglophone families do the latter because they want their kids to be completely bilingual.
If you are Francophone you cannot send your kids to an English school, which you might want to do to make them bilingual. So the compulsion is directed to francophones, who do not have the choice—they must remain within their group, in the cause of preserving the threatened French culture in North America.

The compulsion is also directed at immigrants

Hindi speaking immigrants for whom English is a second language must also educate in French.

Yes, I'm Quebec the anglophone minority has educational rights denied to the francophones.

To make the matter more complicated, the language policy applies to public schools, not private -- you can send your children to schools in your language of choice, and they are subsidised if they follow the official curriculum. Furthermore after grade 11 comes CEGEP, a system of free colleges, some English, mostly French. Students may go to whichever CEGEP they desire, and they frequently switch language of instruction to become more bilingual.

Universities in Quebec are also available in both languages, and are heavily subsidised.

IMHO, the Quebec education system works well for both languages.

Clearly it works great, as demonstrated by the immense contributions of the French speaking Quebecois to science, medicine, law, and technology.
The time spent forcing anglophones to learn French could be better spent.

We have a similar problem here in CA, USA. Spanish immersion exists primarily to benefit unionized teachers.

Bilingualism is a ball and chain to progress.

What a load of crap.

Their are considerable contributions from francophone quebeckers. This is a population that is what? 6 million people, who are still more rural and were traditionally far poorer and less educated than anglophones.

What exactly are the contributions of Missouri or Kansas-Nebraska to human knowledge? Well like that of they are significant even if in fieldds you are ignorant of.

Wah (Roy),

Your post is an inarticulate mess. Did you go to school in Quebec?

As for the people of Kansas, once they move to Boston or Silicon Valley they do pretty well - they are not in Kansas anymore. Also, their English language skills are highly portable. French, not so much, unless you want to work in the aid business in Haiti or the worst shitholes in Africa.

Bilingualism in California is really the opposite of what it is in Québec. All immigrants to Québec must be educated in French; that's the best way for them to integrate into the majority society. In California, they (bizarrely) think that educating Hispanics in Spanish is the best way to help them succeed.

Bilingualism in Québec is about francophones learning English, and anglophones learning French; it has nothing to do with integrating immigrants.

Anglophones in Québec are encouraged -- but not forced -- to learn French. There are publicly-funded English schools, universities and hospitals. Government services are generally provided in English and in French. That being said, why would an anglophone choose to live in Québec and not want to learn the language of the majority? If someone really wants to exist purely in English, there are other pleasant places to live.

I'm not going to try to make a list of Great Québec Francophone Accomplishments. That's awfully subjective and wouldn't convince anyone who doesn't want to be convinced. I do notice that TC didn't have a lot of francophones on "My Favorite Things Quebecois" I don't expect Californians or Virginians to be impressed by the invention of the Ski-Doo.

But specifically to the question of kids from Kansas going to Silicon Valley and becoming big successes, what about Patrick Pichette, ex-CFO of Google?

How is this enforced? How do they prove you're a francophone?

Kids can only go to English school if their parents went to an English school in Canada. Hence, the children of French speakers generally must go to French school. And the children of immigrants.

Does that include (English speaking) immigrants from the U.S.?

Yes. Here's a well known example:

The criteria for being allowed to go to a public anglophone primary or secondary school are:
- Children who have received the major part of their elementary or secondary school instruction in English in Canada;
- Children whose brother or sister did the major part of his or her elementary or secondary studies in English in Canada;
- Children whose father or mother did the major part of his or her elementary studies in English in Canada;
- Children whose father or mother attended school in Québec after August 26, 1977, and could have been declared eligible for instruction in English at that time

This is supposed to work as a proxy for a child being genuinely "anglophone" and therefore allowed to receive English-language education but at the same time the policy restrict the growth of anglophones or "allophones" (people who are bilingual) in order to maintain the specific francophone character of the province.

Very interesting! Had no idea.

"This has produced a situation in which two generations of Catalan children with Spanish as mother tongue have systematically been denied the possibility to develop his potential mental abilities to the upmost,..."

I don't get this. As a child of immigrants (in America), my mother tongue before I started school was not English. I learned English completely from school and I don't think this impaired my mental development in the slightest.

"mental development" isn't quite the right description, but having your schooling in a language that is only spoken in a tiny region is a significant barrier to maximising your potential. If you only learn how to communicate math, science, etc. concepts in Catalan, that doesn't exactly maximize your career prospects.

Also there is surely a cost of learning in a second language. The benefit of being bilingual almost certainly outweighs the cost if you are learning English or another widely spoken language, but for a minor language that is far more debatable. It may not be worth spending a huge amount of effort learning Catalan unless it is important to you for cultural reasons.

So hungarian kids should be taught in mandarin chinese? Tons of speakers to communicate math and science!

Growing up being bilingual outweights the cost even if you go for Esperanto as a second language.

Well, only being able to speak about math and science in Hungarian would be a significant barrier in many contexts, wouldn't it? In many fields, learning a second language will be necessary for a Hungarian to be successful. But I never suggested people should be taught in a non-native language in a context like Hungary, where 99% of people speak Hungarian as their first language.

I think the evidence is mixed on the second point. Most of the evidence shows improved performance on specific cognitive tasks, but this isn't the same as showing an overall benefit. It could come at the expense of reduced performance or less achievement in other areas. In any case, even if bilingualism is beneficial as an end in itself, learning a language that is widely spoken would give you those same benefits and the benefit of knowing a more widely useful language.

"I never suggested people should be taught in a non-native language in a context like Hungary, where 99% of people speak Hungarian"

Catalan is the majority spoken language in Catalonia. Have you been there? Even if it's not the mother tongue of many. Not sure I understand why you need to reach a certain percentage of native speakers for the point above about Hungary to be valid. I'm both cases they're countries that don't want to see their native culture watered down.

I do understand the possible development issues, but as we see it's a problem dealt with by many small nations in the world.

Long and short of it- you shouldn't permanently move to Catalonia unless you're willing to embrace Catalan culture and language.

We're talking essentially about children whose mother tongue is Spanish, living in Spain. Even if their schooling is entirely in Catalan, how could they not be able to function at an advanced level in Spanish, if they wish to do so?

They can speak it, but thanks to "interesting" work from the state government, they will not have much practice reading and writing it, unless all that practice is given to them at home. Many school teachers will also get mad if kids speak to each other in Spanish, but that's relatively hard to control.

Also note how the people that are in favor of separatism, and believe they are not Spaniards, happen to have been the right age to be raised in this environment.

"but having your schooling in a language that is only spoken in a tiny region is a significant barrier to maximising your potential"

At the risk of being flippant, then perhaps you should not live in that region. If i were raising my kids in Portugal, i would expect them to be educated in Portuguese, if i were raising my kids in Tibet, i would expect Tibetan, why should anyone expect Catalonia to be any different.

"why should anyone expect Catalonia to be any different."

Because Spanish is the most common native tongue and most commonly spoken language in the region, as well as the official national language?

This isn't really analogous to your examples.

Maybe not Portugal but that sounds a lot like Tibet. Why not force everyone to speak Chinese there? Why should Tibetans complain?

If you look at how often Spanish was used in Catalonia in 81, and look at how much it's used now, you'll find that the numbers are very different. In Galicia and the Basque country, both he local language and Spanish have been spoken for many generations. The Catalonian policy, which was tolerated by the central government because nationalist votes were needed for stability, was to try to make Spanish disappear. It's been decades of cultural violence. It's no surprise that the kids raised this way happen to not think they are Spanish.

Which is fine, they are in Catalonia after all! You'd expect the same in Portugal or any other nation.

The threat of the Constitutional Court is still there

"They will forever occupy the lowest range of jobs in the Catalan economy." This is a very strong claim where I'd like to see some data to back it up. Being taught in a foreign language at school is probably not a big deal for most kids and being bilingual is a massive asset later on.

So let me get this straight: the actions of government serve to restrict the choices of the people. And we need these overlords because?

What about this. My wife is British. She an experienced English teacher with more than 20 years of teaching experience all over the world. We live near Barcelona. In order to apply for a job in a local school, she was requested to pass an exam in Catalan language to the level C. A lot of Catalans can not get to this level.

Guess what, after 2 years studying she did get her mark. But she did not get a job. They still prefer to employ Catalan teachers to teach English.

Yeah, but the double-tonguers will jump up and down claiming she now has the benefit of bilingualism, but of course at the cost of spending a big chunk of 2 years obtaining it. Then there is the opportunity cost...

The Catalonians are trying to save their culture, and are willing to impose an enormous cost on others to do so.

Let them do it and suffer the consequences. I certainly would avoid living therebat that cost. They will remain a global backwater.

As for learning Chinese, for a native speaker of neither Chinese nor English, it would be wise to learn English. The Chinese are learning English but few people outside of China (except me) are learning Chinese, so there is little extra benefit to learning Chinese, unless you want to live in China.

" All primary and secondary schools use Catalan as vehicular teaching language (with an hour a week of Spanish… or nothing)"

This is a plain lie. In catalan schools they spend 3 hour a week of Spanish.
And if the parent ask it (usually they need to go to the suprem catalan court to get it, I sadly must say) they get up to 6-7 hours a week.

This is form "El mundo" newspaper, from Madrid:

Three hours a week learning the primary language of the country still seems ridiculously low.

It's more than that. School teachers teach non language subjects in either spanish or catalan. Language subjects are 3 hours per week (spanish, catalan, english). Later in university use of catalan is much smaller. At the other extreme, use of catalan in courts/central administration is negligible, and many linguistic guarantees are waived.

And how good is the average Spaniard at English? Or Americans that start learning Spanish in elementary school, as a second language? 3 hours a week doesn't even come close to teaching a language to anyone.

And yes, good luck getting a job at a public school in Catalonia when you want to teach kids in Spanish. You'll not be picked, because at least pretending that you want independence is an unwritten part of the job. Which is why it's difficult to contextualize the current situation without looking at the transfer of education competencies.

All that effort and I still don't hear much Catalan on the streets of Barcelona. I get by perfectly well using Spanish, no one tries to speak Catalan to me, and I don't try to speak it to them (because I don't know any). It's possible I am only talking to waiters and cabdrivers who are from outside Catalunya, but it's also possible that I am talking to ordinary locals and that they don't use Catalan all that much.

Catalan separatism, IMHO, is mostly fueled by ethnocentric nationalism. They use some economic data and flawed central government policies to make it more "marketable". All that centuries ago annexation stuff is bluntly weak to justify such move and more than weak it's dangerous because pretty much every nation of the world was formed later than that and conquest was a staple which led us to culturally diverse nations.

In many countries colonized by European powers (particularly in Africa) the reckless bonding of very different people led to regimes where power holders tended to institutionalize discrimination against groups outside their ethnic background, in extreme cases splitting has been advised as the only way to peace but I don't see such abuses in Spain against Catalans, Basques or Galician. It really baffles me how democracy failed to create harmony among Spaniards after so many years. I'm okay with people preserving their cultural heritage but in this day and age picking it as reason to create a culturally homogeneous nation sounds wrong.

The origin of the Basque and Catalan separatist movements, at its core, is not identity, but Francoist and early democratic Spanish blatant favoritism towards Castile and Andalusia, mixed with corruption everywhere in government. This on top of police repression of two regions that were long Republican hotbeds, even after the war. In the case of Euskadi they're now quite happy with the wide ranging autonomy they bartered with the central government as long as they're left alone (Basque police, courts, taxation, schools etc). In the case of Catalunya, the economic situation has very recently evolved into a complicated political rift internal to the region. That's why in the referendum, the majority didn't vote - they're the 50-60% of residents with Spanish as their main language who are not fond of independence. The remainder don't want even harmony because anything imposed from Madrid is now perceived similarly to an offer from the reasonable side of an estranged married couple to the infuriated side - there's too much past baggage there for the infuriated side to listen.

I believe there anti unified kingdom movements before Franco and I understand Francoist oppression and intolerance was a major contributor to recent independency movements but we cannot really isolate identity politics from all that. Once can argue the central government did not give autonomous regions enough but we cannot say they kept Franco's policies intact, if I'm not wrong Spanish autonomous regions are way more autonomous than similar regions in other European countries.

Maybe those regions should make their struggle a fight against monarchy and make republicanism their #1 goal, I believe it would bring way more diverse support to the cause.

Could you elaborate more on the differences between the Basque and Catalan situations? Has Madrid ceded more power to Bilbao than to Barcelona? It's something I've been wondering about during this crisis.

Well I know that the basque region have an arrangement that means that they don't end up subsidising the rest of country in the same way that Catalonia does, which is probably why they're currently content with the current arrangement while Catalonia is not

Yes. During the transition to democracy, Basque Country, Navarra and Catalonia were given the option to pay a fixed percentage based on their weight on the national GDP, and set, collect and manage themselves most of the taxes. Basque Country and Navarra accepted, while Catalonia thought that the common system used by the rest of regions would fit better its interests (e.g. they wouldn't have to pay the political price of increasing taxes).

The point is in that the rules of calculation of this percentage give Basque Country and Navarra power of veto on any update. That, and its leverage in the Parliament (they were needed to pass the latest budget, for instance) made that percentage to be not representative of their weight, and so it is overfinanced compared to any other region.

One of the possible solutions that has been suggested for this crisis was to use this system also in Catalonia. Of course it is only an advantage if a region grows economically and the percentage is not updated accordingly, but it was a quite short-lived proposal (the rest of the regions would not like at all expanding a treatment that is already considered unfair)

Apart of that, Basque Country and Catalonia have pretty much the same attributions: they control education, health system, have their own police force, ...

"Basically, in practice, you are not allowed to decide in which language do you want your children to be taught. I am sure most of you will think that this cannot be true in a democratic country."

It's true in literally every democratic country I can think of. In the US, UK, France, Germany, Japan, etc., you are not allowed to choose in which language your children will be taught. Public schools are taught in whatever language the government chooses. If you live in the US and want your child to be educated in German, you have no option within the public school system.

Now, I assume Felix meant that the majority of children do not learn in their mother tongue, which is a different but very reasonable point. Even so, this occurs in many democratic countries. Kenyans and Tanzanians are taught in Kiswahili and then English, neither of which is a mother tongue for many Kenyans or Tanzanians. Burkinabe and many other West Africans are taught in French, which is the mother tongue for only a narrow minority of urban elites. While I don't think it's great to teach students in something other than their mother tongue, the Catalan situation is not particularly unique in that regard.

Obviously that literal statement is not true, but I think the point is about the majority language of a large region not being able to school children in their own language. I don't know of another place in a democracy where this is true, though there might be one.

Belgium kind of comes to mind, but trying to check on details is likely difficult enough to dissuade me from pursuing it - not to mention that Belgium has three regions, one of which is noted for being bilingual. But everyone hates Brussels anyways, so no surprise there. .

The Swiss also come to mind, though in their case, they have probably come up with some adequate solution - it is rare in my experience to find a Swiss citizen who is only bilingual, though their must also be monolingual Swiss citizens too.

And Ireland is really confusing in these terms, considering how basically there are very few mother tongue Gaelic speakers left, yet the official language is Gaelic.

There have been and probably still are lots of bilingual education programs where the majority of the curriculum is taught in a language other than English, there the goal usually is to eventually get the students into the normal (English) education program.

Montgomery County (Maryland) has ten elementary and three middle public schools with partial or two way immersion in Chinese (Mandarin I think), French, and Spanish. I suspect in a few years they'll also have some high schools as well. Partial: some part of the school day in English and part in the foreign language, ideally about 50/50. Two-way: alternate days between English and the foreign language, its intended that there be native speakers of the non-English language as students so it is immersion for both English and non-English students.

"In the ... UK ... you are not allowed to choose in which language your children will be taught." Wrong.

Wales: see


And indeed a tiny toe in the water for Scots:

Northern Ireland: aw, com on, nobody outside knows what goes on in NornIreland.

Gaelic is almost extinct in Scotland. When people talk about the "Scots" language they usually mean the highly unique Scottish dialect of English, which is almost unintelligible with other varieties of English. If Scotland becomes independent of the UK I would not be surprised if a movement came into being to have Scots English declared a distinct language.

Sort of like Catalan!

Catalan cannot be encompassed as a "dialect" of Spanish, unless we are going to classify all the Romance languages as mere dialects of Late Latin.

Increasingly it looks like this is going to be a moot point. Rajoy seems to have played this perfectly. Force the issue, galvanize the rest of Spain behind him and know that he can rely on an almost completely free hand from the EU. I'd say that within two weeks most of the independence movement leadership will be in prison and the Catalanese police and beauracraxy will be in the process of de-Catalanization.

Honestly Catalan's only chance is for Trump or Putin to actively side with the catalanese and that's a remote possibility that likely wouldn't even be decisive. The fount of sovereignty has not yet run dry.

It will be interesting if this leads to a reappraisal of tactics to counter secession. It seems like be intiating force prior to a legitmizing vote Rajoy in effect legitimized that use of force. Had he waited he might have been seen as responding to a legitimate vote with force. The propoganda value of an unimpeded vote would have been worth a lot more to Catalan than a a newscycls of police violence.

But then expect madrilenes to be killed by score in terrorist attacks in the next thirty years. What a success!

I think you have it completely backwards. Violently repressing the vote was a stupid response. It is almost certain to catalyze public opinion in Catalonia in favor of independence, and it also creates sympathy around the world that will make things harder for Rajoy. Jailing leaders, if that happens, will simply compound the error.

It would have been much smarter to declare the vote invalid but do nothing to stop it. Asking opponents of independence to boycott the vote would have been a much less confrontational way to ensure the result is not seen as legitimate.

Public opinion in Catalonia doesn't matter at this point. What matters is if the rest of Spain backs Rajoy which they increasingly do. Only two world opinions matter merkels and macron's and they both backed Rajoy completely.

Maybe it's a short term political win, but that seems shortsighted.

Opinion in Catalonia will matter in the long run.

It becomes very hard to rule people who as a corporate and territorial group actively dislike you and feel no bonds of loyalty toward you without routinely employing the sort of force that makes those living in liberal democratic states very uncomfortable with you. If this continues and the central authorities do not abolish Catalan language schooling job and signage requirements this will become a disaster of the sort modern Spain is so good at creating.

The Canadians have gone a long way to diffuse Quebec separatism while cultivating Quebec national culture. Quebec has no reason to leave. But if the RCMP starting beating PQ voters in Montreal the next time some silly vote is held I would start dusting off the Dominion of Newfoundland.


"Whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. ...
Nevertheless a prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he does not win love, he avoids hatred; because he can endure very well being feared whilst he is not hated."

"It would have been much smarter to declare the vote invalid but do nothing to stop it. Asking opponents of independence to boycott the vote would have been a much less confrontational way to ensure the result is not seen as legitimate."

Yes, declare it invalid but do nothing to stop it.

Then start a dialog about what *would* be a valid process, introducing the idea that there must be at least two separate votes, separated by 5 years or more, and with supermajority results. (The two votes separated by significant time avoids passions of the moment creating mistakes.)

This is a band aid approach that might make sense if you weren't talking about a region that has a sizable number of non-Catalonians loyal to the Spanish state. Catalonian exclusionism isn't going to end until Spain evicts the hardliners from their stranglehold in the bureaucracy and local police force. The route Rajoy took provides a pretext to do just that an protect the rights of the sizable minority of non-Catalanians.

It works for Canada, it works for Belgium, it sure seems to work for Scotland and Wales.

Parents not able to make choices regarding their children's education? Imagine that.

This is not that unusual. In southern India , in Chennai , India's third largest city , it is quite difficult to find a school where you can get a second language Telugu of the neighboring state , even though at one stage 30-35% of the population spoke Telugu. Parochialism rules often.

30-35% of Chennai spoke Telegu "at one stage?" I find this extremely hard to believe, and would appreciate a citation.

"As the United Nations recognizes (21st of February, day of the mother tongue) ...": it's remarkable how a good and interesting argument can be weakened (in my eyes) by praying in aid the UN.

" 60% of Catalan children has the Spanish language as mother tongue ... United Nations recognizes ... children should be schooled in the mother tongue whenever possible. But 60% of Catalan children are denied this right by successive Catalan regional governments"

I think this misses the context. How many of those parents only have Spanish as their "mother tongue" because Franco forced it on them for 40 years? I realize many are recent immigrants from the rest of Spain and Latin America but that 60% can evaporate real quick when you start picking at it.

Check the demographic info in the pdf Tyler posted. Indeed there's a good chunk of "Spanish" immigrants but they're not recent at all. They arrived in droves in Catalonia during the post-civil war era because -as much as this might come as a surprise to some of you- regions like Andalucia and Extremadura were literally starved to death while life in Catalonia was much better. If there's something I find disgusting about the Catalan nationalist movement is their appropriation of the Republican/Anti-Francoist struggle, to the point that many people in Catalonia and abroad actually think of the Civil War as conflict between Barcelona and Madrid.

So they came while Franco was actively and brutally suppressing Catalan culture.m? I really find Catalans very annoying and Barcelona may be the world's most overrated city, so I do understand the instinct, but this is a terrible argument.

If I were Catalan, and 60% of children in Catalonia did not have Catalan as their mother tongue, I would certainly insist that it be the language of the public schools. Nations and cultures disappear, but they can justly do more than shrug and acquiesce.

So as a minority you would force the majority to speak your language based on... which right? Blood and soil?

Integration into the majority society.

You presume that Catalan-speakers are presently the minority in Catalonia. If that were the case, then the regional government, representing the majority, wouldn't even want to impose Catalan as the language of the public schools.

I have no personal knowledge of Catalonia, so I welcome correction by people more familiar with the facts.

As a catalan I can say this is absolutely true. Many children in Catalonia barely speak Spanish. This goes beyond politics, this is a huge damage to a society. There's not any need for this, you can be perfectly bilingual in Catalan and Spanish. I am.
Catalonia is facing a coup d'etat and the root cause is education. Decades of education against Spain, hatred towards Spain has permeated all layers of society.
What's the problem of having 50% education in both languages?, why barren one language to learn another?. It's all done for political reasons and this is causing a devastating damage to individuals and society

"What’s the problem of having 50% education in both languages?"
Catalan speakers in Valencia are asking this too

In Valencia -I know the region very well- you can have 50% and more of your education in Catalan. But Spanish is not de facto banned from the school system. Most Valencians are proficient in both languages

Good points here.

Still, has not the PP in Madrid done everything they could to piss off Catslonia? As a Catalan, do you feel that you're dealing w an honest broker? Also, what is your take on the fiscal issues and Madrids constant refusal to negotiate on greater autonomy for Catalonia in this regard?

Pissing off or not, this is a matter of opinion. What really does matter is the law and the rights of the individuals. You have all the right to complaint about the government, but some times you like, sometimes you dislike your government, this is democracy. The nationalist parties have supported different governments in Madrid. Many times people didn't like it (when ERC supported ZP as an example) but this is how the game goes.
Catalonia has one of the most decentralized autonomies in the world, what else is to give there?. Education, health, your own police, there's not much left. And after all those concessions we see a coup d'etat in the making. Fiscal issues: in all the world richer areas pay more than poorer. Also Madrid pays more. In Catalonia also Barcelona pays more than Lleida, is this a reason for secession?.

Catalan is something like Spanish with strong French influence. After all, it is a frontier region. A Spaniard speaks Catalan after two weeks in Catalunia. France, Italy, Germany, etc. all erased regional sub-languages with unification. Spain achieved unification in the 16th Century, yet regions survived. May be Spain is a failed country.

It's quite interesting that some European countries achieved stability and a national identity by purging the less dominant cultures and languages. The end result seems worth the cost, however, it seems barbaric to suggest purging the Catalan language at present. Would Spain be better off in the long run if Catalan assimilated? Would France be worse off (politically and/or economically) if they still had regions that spoke Breton and Gallo?

Hi Ramon,

"There’s not any need for this, you can be perfectly bilingual in Catalan and Spanish. I am."

And did you learn both from a very young age? When did you learn English?

“Basically, in practice, you are not allowed to decide in which language do you want your children to be taught. I am sure most of you will think that this cannot be true in a democratic country.”

In several democratic countries, where the languages spoken are Spanish, German or other, there are International schools that teach most of the subjects in English.

But this are private schools and it is your choice as a parent...

Dear Tyler,

Take a look at the link You'll see an official web with the results of the Language Uses of the Population (2013) survey, the same that you linked. How come, if 50,73% of the people use Spanish as their usual language, you can only read the web in Catalan or English.

It's impossible to find a public school that teaches in Spanish, quite often Spanish in taught in Catalan. I know for a fact, I lived in Barcelona for seven years (1999-2006) and my son was born there. What it's even worse is the content of the curriculum, particularly in history,
there the snake has been quite proficient at brainwashing.

Don't most psychologists studying child development say that learning multiple languages is cognitively beneficial later on? If so then the Spanish-speaking kids who are schooled in Catalan would actually be benefitting from that situation. Similar to the way that rich people in America send their kids to study Mandarin.
In Canada, they have French Immersion schools and many English speaking people send their children there voluntarily so they will learn french very well.

Of course, this does not negate the lack of choice in the matter. Just saying it isn't detrimental to the kids.

There is no level of depradations that Hazel Meade won't defend as long as they harm only whites.

Maybe the Spaniards should consider going back to their own country if they feel so oppressed in Spain. If they can afford stop sucking Catalonia's blood, I mean.

Catalonia is my own country as the rest of Spain is yours. We have built it together, so it is for all to decide. The opposite is what triggered the US civil war. A piece has not the right to secede. But maybe Lincoln was a fascist who sucked the south's blood.
You know that taxes are not evenly split within Catalonia either, so I assume that El Raval is sucking the blood of Pedralbes, following your own -poor- logic here.
What a pity to see this level of hatred. Spain -all of it- is a wonderful country, with high level of livng standard and you are putting it at risk for nothing. Good luck


Pay no attention to "The Truth Seeker" - he is not a truth speaker. He used to be a faux Brazilian.

The situation in Catalan is more complex than we thought.

I'm learning much from your posts.

I am not a Catalonian. Yet, I believe in self-determination for all peoples. Rajoy and company can emulate Franco as much as they want... in their own country. It is time to send packing the Spanhish carpetbaggers. No force in the world will be able to keep Catalonia enslaved by Madrid.

Spotted the Putin muppet.

No, I am not. But it is the West's duty to be as tough with Spain's littler empire as it was when Girbachev attacked Lithuania! Sanish occupation of Catalonia is as unacceptable as is Russian occupation of the Baltic states. Police violence under Madrid orders are as unacceptable as KGB violence under Moscow's orders was.

" A piece has not the right to secede."? So for example Algeria (which was juridically a part of France, three French departments, not a colony) had no right to secede? I really like to know your opinion about that.

Moreover, whatever Lincoln said, he behaved during the "civil war" exactly as if the confederation was an independent country and he was fighting a foreign war against them. This is well-known. For instance, prisoners from the confederation were treated as foreign war prisoners, with none of the production offered to American citizens by the bill of right (they were not individually judged, by a jury of their peers, or protected against seizures). If we like Lincoln now, it is not because he prevented by force some part of its country to secede, but because he fought and won a war to end slavery in the confederation.

Joël, Algeria was a colony. Catalonia is not -and has never been-
It has been part of Spain from the time it came into existence as we know it today. Catalans have been -and are part- of the Spanish government, they have voted in all elections, they have their representatives in the Spanish parliament. Colonies have the right to secede -the UN recognizes this right- but also the UN denies this right to Catalonia because it's not a colony. Countries are built by all those people that make the country, so it is for all to decide. I think the vote for potential independence in Scotland was not democratic (although it was agreed and legal) because 5 M citizens had the chance to decide the future of 60 M, this is unfair.
Lincoln (and the North) motivation to fight the civil war was to avoid secession. The trigger was the shooting at Fort Sumter by the Southerners. Slavery made it all much more obvious but it was not the main or first driver (actually some Northern states kept slavery legal during the war)

Sorry, you have the history all wrong.

1) As I recalled, according to French law and constitution, Algeria was not a colony, it was a part of France. It status was not the same as the one of Tunisia or Morocco or French Indochina or Madagascar etc. Algeria was composed of three French departments exactly as any region of metropolitan France. It was part of the French territory, that the constitution described as "indivisible" -- and still does. That it was a colony for many Algerians and for many observers, I completely agree. But the exact same situation holds for Catalonia now.

2) "It has been part of Spain from the time it came into existence as we know it today". What does that even mean? Catalonia has become part of Spain only in 1714, by military conquest (by the forces of Philippe V, the grand-son of Louis XIV of France). But it was certainly not then "as we know it today" back in 1715. In 1716,
"by the Nueva Planta decree, Phillipe V abolished the Catalan constitutions and with it the Catalan and Valencian parliaments and rights" (wikipedia).

Before, Catalonia already existed with its modern name in the 12th century, and a romance language distinct from old Spanish as spoken in Castile and other romance dialects, and it was independent from Castile.

3) About Lincoln, sigh... I am tired of these people who think slavery was not the main cause civil war

Now again, I am against independence for Catalonia, which would be a stupid idea. But Catalans, and Catalans alone, have the right to decide for themselves if they want to be independent. Symmetrically, of course, the rest of Spain has the inalienable right to declare its independence from Catalonia, which would mean throwing Catalonia out of Spain, it this is what they want.

Joël, I acknowledge you seem to know more about Algeria history than I do. Having said this, it is clear that Algeria was considered by all -except France- a colony and Catalonia is not -unless by activists with an agenda.
About Spanish history I think I know better. Spain, as it exists today, started with the marriage of the Catholic kings. Since then the kingdoms of Aragon -of which Catalonia was a part- and Castille are united. In 1512 Navarra was added. In 1714 there was the Succession war, which was an European and in Spain civil war in which most -but not all Catalunya- supported the Hasburgs while other areas of Spain -but not all- supported tu Bourbons.
As per the Civil war...sigh, sorry, 4 slave states never declared secession (Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware and Missouri). They fought with the NOrth for the Union, not against slavery

The Confederacy was treated as a "belligerent", a category in international law that defines a combatant that is not accepted as a legitimate country, but still provides the same protections to its citizens and soldiers as it were.

Should there be Spanish- and Vietnamese- and Chinese-medium public schools in those parts of the U.S. where those are majority languages? Catalan is the language of upward mobility in Catalonia, and it is appropriate that students become fluent in it before entering the workforce. Of course, Spanish-medium private schools should not be banned, and there should be voucherized school choice, but those aren't the issues under discussion here.

Less speculation and more facts. Go to Barcelona and see it for yourself. The Spanish language is not allow anywhere in the local government sphere in spite of the fact that everyone speaks, reads and can write (some very poorly) in Spanish. This is a coup d’etat, and other regions with nationalistic political tension will soon follow (Navarra, the Basque country, Galicia, Canaries, Valencia and Baleares). Where are the official results from last Sunday? How many days do they need for a region with a population of seven and a half million?

Navarra, the Basque country, Galicia, Canaries, Valencia and Baleares).

It is not Catalonia's problem if the Castillians are just now waking to the fact they can't keep forever their little Soviet Union, is it? Catalonia to the Catalan people!!

Where is the Gulag? Is the elected president Puigdemont like Solzhenitsyn? Is Gerard Piqué forced to play with the Spanish national team? You have to keep talking, people outside Spain have to know what this is about.

A Truth Seeker: I agree. And you're right to fight about this issue. Next thing you know, Tyler and his phalangist commenters will want Portugal to resume control over Brazil, who had no right to secede (hey, it belonged to Portugal for 300 years, the same time as Catalonia with Spain).

Never! Any foreign aggression will be dealt with the total destruction of the aggressor. We are ready to open the gates of the Hell.

Either you are an activist or you don't have a clue of what you are talking about

The little Stalins of Madrid are better to understand that civilization won't stand iddle while they attack their victims.

Nationalistic tensions are a non-issue in Canarias, Balears, Valencia and Galicia. The secessionist movement in those regions is virtually non existant, and the merely nationalistic is quite small. There isn't, in fact, a single political party holding a seat in those region's parliaments that has secession from the rest of Spain as a stated goal.

The current situation probably is the result of the forced imposition of Spanish on Catalan speakers for many decades by the Franco administration.

Franco had plenty of support in Catalonia and in the Basque country.

It seems to me that technology should be pretty close to solving the problem of language. Don't we have technology that's pretty close to being able to do on-the-fly language translation?

I have been one of the students attending school in Catalonia and was in the middle of my primary school when this rule got introduced. I can say that me, as well, as of my colleagues from my generation speak, write and understand both languages without any kind of problem. Both languages are official. Positive discrimination for the minority language is not a problem, neither has affected my capacity to develop my mental abilities

The real issue for me isn't that Catalan is "imposed" on Spanish speakers (a lot of people I know who never spoke Catalan before arriving in the region adjusted quite easily, even moreso if they were young), but that the Catalan nationalist movement has continuously claimed the Catalan language was under persecution from centralist aggression. Which is a blatant lie, but is nevertheless another fictional grievance that piled upon the pyre of secessionist resentment.

"There is no moral difference between Spanish occupation of Catalonia and Soviet ocuppation of the Baltic states. There is no moral difference between Spanish police violence against dissidents and Soviet police violence against dissidents. I hope the international community won’t allow the Fascist aggressors to prevail now."

So now they are fascists, a while ago Spain was "a little Soviet Union". That's the problem with the culture of victimhood that nationalism has bred, the snake has done the work.

Are you aware of what you are saying and the words you are choosing? Doesn't it ring a bell? No connection with Europe's recent history?

"No connection with Europe’s recent history?"
What? When Gorbachev thought he had the right to massacre Lithuanians because Lithuania had been under the Russians boot for decades?! When Spain conauered Portugal and forced Brazil to suffer its wars against the Netherlands?!
Make no mistake, Spain has two alternatives before itself: behaving like a civilized country or being firebombed from the face of Earth. Igt is ti e to open the Gates of Hell and make Spain pay for what it has done.

Mario, this guy is a weird faux Brazilian troll. Ignore or tease, do not take seriously.

No, I am neither weird nor false nor a troll. And come fire or highwater, the Spanish rwgime will have to release its prey or be beaten.

He's also a last word freak. Reply in 3....2.....1.....

No, I am not. I am a very normal person. Maybe, Spaniards should less petty and savage, otherwise, the lesson will have to be drilled into their skulls with firebombing.

I have just finished watching local Catalan TV3. I do not take sides, Im not a Spanish citizen, eventhough I live near Barcelona.

But one thing that people do not understand is all pro-independence propaganda, demonstrations, leaflets and graffitis that city is covered with, all that is paid for by a local government from taxes.

Catalunya already has the highest tax rate in Spain and one of the worst debt problem.

No one knows how much money is spent on independence. But when there are no money left, inevitably Spanish government is blamed. Then more taxpayer's money is spent on propaganda.

You will never see any other opinion apart from independistas' on the local TV. Other views just do not exist. Its really sad that not yet independent Catalunya is actually less democratic that Spain that it hates so much.

Considering the current Russian support and their bleak/no prospects for EU membership if they split then maybe they're looking to become the European Cuba?

So children that go to school in language other than their mother tongue are "denied the possibility to develop his potential mental abilities to the upmost". So bilingual/multilingual children are limited in their mental development? As far as I know, the evidence points in the other direction. Does the author of this comment think children of immigrants need to all be taught in their own language because otherwise their mental development will be stifled? I think the author is using a bullshit argument to support his political views. I wonder what was Tyler's reason for giving this such prominence.

(Background: I am an immigrant myself who's child goes to school in a language that is not his/my mother tongue. I think of this as a great bonus for my kid, not a "denial of his rights").

This is very educational content and written well for a change. It's nice to see that some people still understand how to write a quality post.!

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