Language incompetences

This week Catalan kids’ basic competences are being tested in schools. But maybe they should stop wasting the kids’ learning time and control grown-ups’ competences instead.

Administratively and officially Catalans live in Spain. Ideologies aside, this is a fact. But it is also a fact that Catalan is an official language in here too. Then, why in Catalonia — land of the Catalan language — we can’t use it, not even in public services?

I’ve been years asking for a suc de préssec (peach juice in Catalan) in bars in Barcelona, but they’ve never given me any, they only have zumo de melocotón (in Spanish). Okay, let’s accept they are not going to speak Catalan; but can’t they at least understand it? We are not going to discuss about Freud’s theories, we just want to ask for one of their fifty products. If they are not from here, can’t they learn fifty words in Catalan? And if they are…

"In Catalan, please". Campaign of the 70s.

Some weeks ago I went to Barcelona’s airport. In Pans & Company, a Catalan sandwiches company, there was an English guy who ordered something in a perfect Catalan and had to repeat everything in Spanish because the South American shop assistant only spoke Spanish, not even English. For God’s sake, she’s working in the airport! You see people defending Catalan companies and they don’t realise those don’t care about us anymore than other money-making organisation.

And — don’t miss it — in the post office in Vilafranca del Penedès they can show you how much they respect and care about us. In March, two months ago, I went there to pick a packet up. It was insulting to find a terrible mistake taking my number from the machine. After the civil servant served me exclusively in Spanish ignoring the customer preferences, I told her about the mistake and the correct way to write it, just in case. Last Thursday I went there again and the mistake remained uncorrected. Even worse, that woman couldn’t understand Catalan anymore!

Because of all this, I have a request for whoever is responsible for this. Stop worrying about kids learning the past simple tense at ten and make sure I can at least speak my own language at home, for it’s obvious that I won’t hear it. It is so sad to have to ask for something like this.


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