6 Responses

  1. uberVU - social comments
    uberVU - social comments March 19, 2010 at 1:41 pm |

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by LeilaMonaghan: The first Linguistic Anthropology Roundup is now available: http://bit.ly/Linganth1

  2. Celso Alvarez Cáccamo
    Celso Alvarez Cáccamo March 22, 2010 at 6:50 pm |

    Sorry to say that one of the links in this post, that of Altalang.com, http://www.altalang.com/beyond-words/2008/11/13/10-spanish-dialects-how-spanish-is-spoken-around-the-world/ , is unfortunate and doesn’t deserve to be here. It’s full of inaccuracies and even a gross error, that of calling Aranese a “dialect” of Spanish. Aranese is an Occitan variety, and as such it has to do as little with Spanish as Italian does. Further, the descriptions of “dialects” are clearly amateurish. I won’t go into the details, just this quotation as a sample: “This is the dialect of urban mainland Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and the majority of Central and South American countries” !! — all THAT, just ONE dialect!?

    As to the NYT article, “Trumpeting Catalan on the Big Screen”, well, it’s also questionable. Apart from another inaccuracy (painter Miquel Barceló is not Catalan, but from the also Catalan-speaking Balearic Islands), the article is not unbiased (“trumpeting” a language which is Catalonia’s OWN language?). And pay attention to this (my emphasis):

    “By law, schoolchildren are required to receive their education in Catalan. IN A FURTHER BLOW TO SPANISH CULTURE, a referendum before the Catalan Parliament would end bullfighting, another Spanish passion, here altogether”.

    That is, the mandatory Catalan-language immersion program in school is a “blow to Spanish culture”. Not so. Let’s say the blow to Catalan culture was the prior SUBmersion in Spanish. The Catalan program is very successful in maintaining and recovering Catalan (while Spanish is also obligatorily taught), it has been praised by the European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Bureau_for_Lesser-Used_Languages ) for its adherence to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Charter_for_Regional_or_Minority_Languages ), and it has generated a wealth of research on language policies.

    It is important to remember that the only “blow” to culture in general in Spain was and is that practiced by an essentialized view of “Spain” as that homogeneous imaginary that reaches tourists and language-commentators journalists alike ;-) . Every time I read one of these pieces on languages in Spain in the foreign press, particularly the US, it seems as if a piece of their travel myth (tapas, sun, late evenings, cheap alcohol, nice beaches, eccentric, almost primitive folklore, “pathos” and a good retirement paradise) is being taken away by irrational “nationalists”. The journalist doesn’t even comment on the fact, for example, that the Catalan legislation simply follows the aberrant path of continuing to dub hundreds of US cinema subproducts which reach our screens. Dubbing in Catalan doesn’t correct the fact that moviegoers still have to swallow (and they like it!) horrendous US-produced junk that continues to transform, literally, our hippocampus.

    In short, the Catalan model regarding language policies, including the promotion of the territory’s own language in culture and public life, is one to be followed in other nations (Galiza and the Basque Country) belonging to the almighty Kingdom of Spain were it not for the fact that their respecty autonomous governments have been recently reconquered by centralist parties.

  3. Maria Jose Alveda
    Maria Jose Alveda March 24, 2010 at 12:41 pm |

    Celso,
    I think you’re being a little hard on the spanish dialect article. I live in the U.S. and the author makes a good succinct argument for lumping the south american dialects mostly together. It’s amazing how much racism there is against mexicans here. People sometimes think that we are a sub-species of spanish speakers. There is also ignorance from people who are probably not racist, but should know better. It’s nice for people to see that mexican spanish has more in common with venezuela or colombia than differences.

  4. Linguistic Anthropology Roundup #4 – Society for Linguistic Anthropology

    […] roundup feature is still in its early stages of development. As Leila indicated in her inaugural roundup, we are summarizing some current material related to linguistic anthropology. And that should work […]

  5. Linguistic Anthropology Roundup #4 – Society for Linguistic Anthropology

    […] roundup feature is still in its early stages of development. As Leila indicated in her inaugural roundup, we are summarizing some current material related to linguistic anthropology. And that should work […]

  6. Susan M. DiGiacomo
    Susan M. DiGiacomo September 6, 2010 at 9:45 am |

    John Tagliabue’s New York Times article on the new Catalan law mandating the dubbing and/or subtitling of 50% of foreign films into Catalan (“Trumpeting Catalan on the Big Screen,” March 10, 2010) contains a number of inaccuracies and tendentious arguments not easily recognized as such by the uninformed reader. Catalonia is represented as a place where all things Spanish are subjected to nationalistic backlash: Catalan schoolchildren are “required by law” to receive their education in the Catalan language, and the Catalan Parliament, “in a further blow to Spanish culture,” was poised to end bullfighting in Catalonia. Would any reputable journalist write that French schoolchildren were “required by law” to be educated in French? Since when is the torture of animals as public spectacle defensible on “cultural” grounds? We need only recall the general revulsion inspired by the case of the NFL star Michael Vick, found to be operating a dogfighting ring and personally treating the animals cruelly. The photograph accompanying the article shows a poster of the film “Precious” at the Verdi Park cinema in Barcelona announcing “V.O. subtitulada en català en exclusiva.” This means that the Verdi Park cinema was the only theatre where moviegoers could see this film subtitled in Catalan, but the photo caption translates this incorrectly as “subtitled exclusively in Catalan,” suggesting, falsely, that nowhere in Catalonia could the film be seen with Spanish subtitles. The message of the article is that Catalans’ defense of their own language and culture is a negative phenomenon based on opposition to Spanish language and culture. Tagliabue neglects to point out that the hegemony of Spanish is overwhelming in the media.
    Having thus laid the groundwork, Tagliabue practices a kind of journalism that advertises itself as “balanced” and “objective” by seeking out opposing opinions, juxtaposing them, and letting readers choose the opinion they prefer: the Catalan minister of culture Joan Manuel Tresserras arguing that if the public does not go to see films subtitled or dubbed in Catalan it is because there are so few of them; or the theatre owners, film distributors, and major producers arguing that there are few films in Catalan because the public isn’t interested in seeing them. Unless readers know better, their choice will be heavily conditioned by the way the issue is framed. What this article demonstrates, more than anything else, are the limitations of context-free journalism.

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