Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I asked my wife Remei about her memories of using Catalan during the Franco regime. She was born in a village named Vallfogona de Riucorb in 1960, and so was fifteen when Franco died and the transition to democracy began. Her parents were farmers who moved to the working-class Collblanc neighborhood in the Barcelona suburb of L'Hospitalet in the late sixties, and they spoke only Catalan with the family.

Says Remei, "It wasn't as bad as people say from my experience...In elementary school around 1972 we had an hour of Catalan class a week, it was like music, not really important like math or history...Outside class we spoke Catalan with the teachers who were Catalan, but they only used Spanish in class...It was mostly official, if you went to the city hall you used Spanish, and with the police. You always spoke Spanish with the Guardia Civil...In elementary school they told us that Catalan was a dialect, not a language. They made a big deal out of that...When I was born I was named Remedios, in Spanish, because that was the rule. I changed it to Remei in 1976 as soon as I could...In the early Seventies I remember music in Catalan, Serrat and La Trinca, and humor on the radio, I don't remember the comedian's name. My mom has some tapes by him. I don't remember TV in Catalan...In the village it was all Catalan, and in the city it was about 60 Catalan--40 Spanish. At work my parents spoke the language the clients spoke, just like today. People only knew how to write in Spanish, though...Nobody I know ever got in trouble with the government for speaking Catalan. About once a year you would meet an asshole (cabronazo) who would give you trouble and tell you to speak Spanish...Once I went to the doctor's office with my mom and she said, "Qui és l'últim?" and some woman said "Hable usted en cristiano, que no se la entiende."...I never felt discriminated against because I was Catalan. There was no pressure in my social class...In general things are much better today, of course. Catalan is really protected, actually."

I read this back to her and she said, "Perfect."

No comments: