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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.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 4th, 2006 11:31 am (UTC)
L'Europe des régions, they say, it's not contradictory.

Actually, they teach Breton in public schools, they just don't want the whole schooling to be given in Breton... which makes sense to me.

Local language and customs in Wallonia? I have my doubts here...
Jul. 5th, 2006 05:24 am (UTC)
I like the idea of regional identities becoming stronger within the European Union and don't see anything contradictory about it myself.

Thanks for pointing that out about Breton; the English version of Wikipedia makes it sound like the government can't incorporate Breton into public schools because it would violate the constitution:

An attempt by the French government to incorporate the independent Breton-language immersion schools (called Diwan) into the state education system was blocked by the French Constitutional Council on the grounds that, as the Constitution of the 5th Republic states that French is the language of the Republic, no other language may be used as a language of instruction in state schools. The Toubon Law states that French is the language of public education.

I don't know how much linguistic diversity there is between these, but besides the Walloons there are the speakers of Gaumais, Lussimbordjwès, and Picard (plus Chti and Rouchi) ... and I'm of the opinion that having more languages is always a good thing. :P I take it there isn't much to distinguish the Walloon provinces from the rest of Belgium these days?
Jul. 4th, 2006 10:26 pm (UTC)
I think Catalan is spoken in Ibiza and those other islands off the east coast.

And I believe Irish and Welsh are still spoken in their respective regions.

Yeah, as much as I like the "enlightenment" that comes with globalization, I don't think one should forget the regional characteristics that makes each culture unique.

I've only seen one WC adornment in my area: a papermade sign in a home window saying "go USA" and "go Mexico".
Jul. 5th, 2006 06:13 am (UTC)
You're right; Catalan is listed as an official language for Andorra, Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, Valencia, and part of Aragon - and it's spoken in Italian Sardinia as well.

They are, although there's some debate on the viability of the Irish language. It probably doesn't help that attempts by the government to post public signs in English and Irish have included some examples with horrible grammar, nor that the national telephone company (eircom) stopped using Irish in its telephone books beginning in 1999.

I would like to see more work put into preserving languages that are currently endangered, as each one provides a different way of viewing the world. A common example is how there could be tribes in the Amazon rainforest that use plants important in the fight against cancer, etc. but it's just as true for some of the 'minor' European languages.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )