By Sue Wright
The problem of human rights turns into very complicated while utilized to language. "Individual" rights have little that means during this area. humans don't ask for the proper to talk to themselves; they ask for the ideal to take advantage of their language inside their staff. the place populations are heterogenous such rights are tricky to make sure. Language could be a robust technique of inclusion and exclusion, and this can be quite actual in democratic societies the place debate is vital to the method. This ebook appears to be like at those basic questions within the context of Catalonia.
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Additional info for Language, Democracy, and Devolution in Catalonia (Current Issues in Language and Society (Unnumbered).)
The contrast between the French and Belgian reactions to multilingualism is significant in terms of political philosophy. In the first case, it is the citizen that is expected to adapt and conform to the (linguistic) model defined by the authorities, and is encouraged and aided to do so, principally through the education system, so that all citizens will as a result be equal. In the latter case, it is the system itself that has to adapt to the citizens and to their linguistic features, that has to be adjusted and altered so as to be able to treat each citizen equally, that is, on his or her own terms and in his or her own language.
For the people can of course be undertaken by a benevolent despot. It is the reference to government by the people that associates the statement so clearly with democracy. Yet it is easy to reach erroneous conclusions by attempting simple associations between language and democracy. A language can decline or disappear in a democracy, and it can survive in an autocracy. Several examples can illustrate these points. The French revolution, widely hailed as one of the biggest steps towards (parliamentary) democracy that history has ever seen, quickly brought to the fore those who argued that a single language had to be imposed for all citizens to be equal, and to have equal access to rights and services, in a country in which, at the end of the eighteenth century, about half of the population spoke languages other than French: principally Occitan, which was spoken by the vast majority of the population in the southern half of the country, but also Breton, Corsican, Basque, Catalan, Dutch and German.
And if the interfaces are exciting in themselves, they are, I can assure you, absolutely enthralling if we look at the particular case of Catalonia. I therefore intend to structure this paper in the simplest and most logical fashion: after a very brief introductory reference to the language itself, I shall deal in turn with language and democracy, language and devolution, andalbeit more brieflywith democracy and devolution. May I state from the outset some of my main hypotheses: that in Europe in the past few centuries the relationship between democracy and language, in bi- and multilingual countries, has been far from simple; that Catalan has thrived in democratic periods in which devolution has advanced; that the causes of most of the problems facing Catalan, in the past and at present, are non-linguistic in nature; and that the future of the language is far from secure.