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July 3rd, 2006

bertaèyn and català

Returning to the last quarterfinal played over the weekend, I thought it was interesting that ESPN showed a group of fans celebrating the French victory in Frankfurt by waving around the Gwenn-ha-du - representative of the Celtic-speaking area of Bretagne in the west of l'hexagone. Despite talks of globalization and the integration of the continent into a greater European Union it's interesting to see how the various régions of France and comunidades autónomas of Spain are creating a regionalized patchwork of local governments divided along historical lines. From what I've gathered the Gwenn-ha-du is no longer considered a seperatist symbol in the modern French state, but efforts to teach Breton (Brezhoneg) in local schools have been refused by the French Constitutional Council as contrary to the linguistic security of the Republic.

Meanwhile, Catalunya (capital: Barcelona) in eastern Spain lists Catalan as an official language to be taught alongside Castillian in the education system and as the sole language of government affairs. In addition to the strong linguistic tradition in the area * a referendum on 18 June 2006 saw the Catalan public vote in favor of increasing government autonomy for the Generalitat, while at the same time declaring Catalunya a nation in its own right. I commented to a friend later that evening on how such a move is only a few steps away from declaring independence - assuming the Spanish government ratifies the Statute of Sau * - and, as the Catalans already have their own police force and can administer civil law on their own, it will be interesting to see how an increase in autonomy will be represented.

One of the more surprising car adornments I've come across was in Olympia, with one resident affixing a roundel of the Catalan flag to their rear bumper with a large C printed in the center. This even beats the roundel with BiH (Bosnia i Herzegovina) in black lettering and the pays de Galles roundel with Y Ddraig Goch * emblazoned across the front that I've also seen within the state capital.

Is it possible for Europe to join together at the same time it's falling apart? Looking at the matter form a more cosmopolitan viewpoint I don't really feel comfortable using those terms, but the general idea remains the same. To have transnational unification present the best opportunity for localized autonomy seems a little strange, but if it preserves the local language and customs in places like Alsace, Galicia, Euskadi, Wallonia, and Friesland ... well, I certainly won't be complaining.