Antoni Maria Badia i Margarit was instrumental in reintroducing linguistics studies in Catalonia’s universities after the 1936-1939 war. The Catalan language had been banned and Catalan speakers persecuted during the two military dictatorships in the 20th century. He used to say that back in his elementary school days he would hide his notebooks written in Catalan inside bathroom cabinets.
He was hired as a university professor to teach Spanish grammar and historical linguistics, fully aware that Catalan was being persecuted, censored, frowned upon. He was one of the key promoters of Catalan inside and outside the university, and helped organize intellectuals that would care for it, write in it, protect it, and work against its dwindling during the Franco years.
Probably, his main personal features were his politeness, and his profoundly civilized demeanor. However, when he engaged in debate, his propriety and openmindness did not stop him from defending fervently his ideas in favor of the unity of our language and nation. He was a serious scholar and activist with extensive knowledge of the issues.
During his seminal tasks to update language’s tools to adapt to a new reality, especially his two grammars he published a few years apart (1962 i 1994), and his introduction to sociolinguistics studies, he proved to be an indefatigable supporter of a scientific view of Catalan language and of its place in the world. However, he did not have a nostalgic, self-complacent vision of the past, in spite of his ample knowledge of historical linguistics. He was crucial in turning Catalan language studies into a normal activity, although he always gave credit to Joan Corominas.
Concerning the defense of our language, we should not forget that he was highly militant and critical, “If one day Catalan becomes extinct, it will not be because Catalan has been imposed on Spanish speakers, but because Catalan speakers will stop speaking their own language. Therefore, every Catalan has the responsibility and obligation to preserve our their language. We already know that we cannot ask that everybody be a hero—but perhaps we can ask that they be a little bit more heroic.”
He is already resting in peace in the undying dream, but he left us important work to do, to never stop defending the most valuable cultural treasure we have—our own language.
Minister of Justice of Catalonia (2006-2010)
Minister of Home Affairs of Catalonia (2003-2006)
Mayoress of Mollet del Vallès (1997-2003)
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