Saturday, March 29, 2014

Inordinate Spanish-Language Supremacism of the Cervantes Institute

The Cervantes Institute faces the 2014 financial year with a comfortable budget of €110,450,000. An impressive figure considering the economic situation of the Kingdom of Spain. Among the measures taken by the Spanish Institute, none involve closing any of its 84 centres in 44 countries nor any reduction whatsoever of their bloated staff.

The Institute provides the Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language (DELE) and has announced it will extend exam sittings and the variety of titles (commercial, educational, economic, and through Internet). To do this, they will increase expenditure on classroom rentals especially to hold exams, and on construction for their offices in Brussels, Paris and Warsaw. In the Polish capital the Institute is housed in a five-storey building.

All this is to promote Castilian, what most know as the Spanish language, which as we all know is agonising, with its 528 million speakers. Meanwhile, the Institute scorns with indifference the other supposedly Spanish languages like Asturian-Leonese and Aragonese or displays disdain for Galician, Basque and Catalan. Of the Institute's 210,000 tuitions, for example, 207,000 correspond to Castilian, 900 to Catalan, 100 to Basque, and 100 to Galician. The vast majority of cultural events of the Institute concern the Castilian Spanish language.

Just taking a look at the website of the Institute, you can observe the smouldering supremacism of Castilian. In fact, they have not even bothered to version the website in the languages which they are supposed to promote. The logo of the Institute itself resembles the "ñ" letter that does not exist in the other "Spanish" languages. The Institute is immune to the idea reflected by Romantic writer Victor Hugo: "There is no such thing as a small country. The greatness of a people is no more affected by the number of its inhabitants than the greatness of an individual is measured by his height."

It seems that the language that needs promotion, in which you have to invest, is Castilian. The other Spanish languages can look after themselves. Why help them? Or is it, perhaps, that Castilian is superior to the other languages? Whoever starts believing that certain languages are superior to others ends up defending that some people are also superior to their peers.

Jordi Vàzquez

Editor for Help Catalonia

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