Might an independent Catalonia become a one-language state? That's what is proposed by a manifesto created by a Catalan linguistic platform called the Grup Koiné, comprising of 250 translators, writers and ex-politicans. The document, titled 'Per un veritable procés de normalització lingüística a la Catalunya independent' ('In favour of a real process of linguistic normalization in an independent Catalonia') has caused several heated debates in parliament, over its inflammatory ideas and phrasing.
It led to Luis Rabell - the leader of the Si Que Es Pot party - questioning President Carles Puigdemunt if he shares its 'racist and cultural fundamentalist positon'. Puigdemunt said it was unreasonable to describe the manifesto as racist, but felt moved to reply that he would 'assure the linguistic rights of all Catalan citizens.' Meanwhile, several members of CUP and Junts Pel Si publicly backed the manifesto.
So what is it in the document that's caused such an outcry? Here's an excerpt.
'Owing to the annexation of the Principality of Catalonia to the Kingdom of Castille from 1714 onwards, castellano, as athe language of domination, opposes Catalan for the status of official territorial language, and will continue attempting to displace it in general linguistic use.'
This statement alone presents a controversial idea. It refers to Catalonia as a principality in itself without mention of the Reino de Aragon of which Catalonia formed a part during the medieval period. It also fails to recognize the alliance between the Reyes Catolicos, whose union in 1474 had brought together the Catalano-Aragonese and Castillian kingdoms, essentially making the region now known as Catalonia part of a wider 'Spanish' state long before the events of 1714.
The Spanish War of Succession was a Civil War between two pretenders to the throne, backed by meddling foreign states; France on the side of the Bourbon pretender, Felipe; and Britain, Austria and the Netherlands on the side of the Hapsburg Prince, Carlos. With the rest of Spain won over, including Aragon, and the foreign powers abandoning the sinking Hapsburg ship, Catalonia was the last territory to hold out against Felipe. Barcelona primed itself for a heroic last stand. When the city was defeated an infuriated Felipe punished the Catalans by stripping the region of the kind of rights and priviledges it once again enjoys today.
"The mechanism to achieve the implantation of Castellano in Catalonia has been the forced bilingualization of the population...General Franco's dictatorship completed this process in two generations by way of the politico-juridicial repression of use of Catalan, the obligatory teaching of Castellano...and using immigration from Castillian-speaking territories as an instrument of involuntary linguistic colonization.'
Now no-one can doubt that General Franco's regime both actively repressed Catalan language and customs and encouraged migration from the rest of Spain into Catalonia as a centralizing expedient. But the idea that migrant workers or 'xarnegos', whose patrimony forms a huge part of the modern Catalan demographic, not as (often impoverished, jobless) aspirants actively looking for a better life in Catalonia, but as witless instruments of State-sponsored ethnic and lingusitic dilution, is offensive to their descendents, many of whom are today pushing for Catalan independence. This has led to Rabell rallying against a document which 'permits the idea of immigration as involuntary Francoist colonization,' claiming that the generation of immigrants it disparages (that of the 60s in particular) 'fought for the liberties and social and linguistic cohesion' of the Catalan community.
For the Koiné group, the only way that Catalonia can achieve its goals as a state is by discarding Castellano altogether in the future and using Catalan as the chief driver for social cohesion. If not, it will forever be under the yoke of 'linguistic subordination', it claims. However, despite over 50% of the population using Castellano as its habitual tongue, in schools it is already impossible to study in it, except as a foreign language like English or French. The Generalitat has removed the right to choose the language of education of its citizens' children. If you wish your child to be taught in a language other than Catalan then you can send them to a private school to learn in English or French, but not to one with a syllabus taught in Spanish. The Koiné Group would not only drive Castillian out of the classroom, but have it removed from public view as well. Even in the advent of an independent Catalan state, the manifesto smacks of the jealous machinations of the old Spanish regime.