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VV’s Diary

August 11: An avalanche of language incidents

People complain about being discriminated against for speaking Catalan

In the last few weeks we have seen a spike in the number of language incidents in Catalonia: people complain about being discriminated against for speaking Catalan. They aren’t complaining because someone talked to them in Spanish. Rather, it’s because —in Catalonia— they have been denied their right to express themselves in Catalan: someone plainly refused to understand their words.

Are we getting a above-average number of reported incidents because there has been a genuine spike, or is it because nowadays people are no longer afraid to make a fuss and report such incidents, although their actual number has not increased? It’s impossible to know. Perhaps it is both at the same time. And both have to do with the Catalan independence process.

On the one hand you’ve got the sort of people who voice their discontent against Catalan independence by adopting an aggressive stance against the Catalan language, knowing all too well that their attitude will be perceived as a political stand in support of a cause that has ample institutional and media backing. On the other hand, many people who would choose not to report such incidents in other circumstances, are now doing so as they know their language rights and are certain that they will find support and their voice will be heard. A double disinhibition. Some have lost the restraint which they exhibited until recently and prevented them from displaying aggression against Catalan speakers. Others are no longer afraid to denounce it publicly.