Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Badia i Margarit: My teacher

Fifty years ago I was a teenager who did not know who Antoni Maria Badia i Margarit was. I was beginning to discover my life—and my country’s life. I was also beginning to appreciate my language and my culture, which had survived in a mysterious way, because nobody taught them at school. 

One day, a sudden burst of conscience and intuition told me that my country was a surrendered and occupied one. After school, I used to love going to bookstores and I would space out in front of bookshelves full of books written in Catalan. I discovered Llibreria Ona in Gran Via, and a book which I devoured, “Dues llengues, dues funcions?” (“Two Languages, Two Functions”) by Francesc Vallverdú, who passed away not too long ago. 

I got to know how the supremacy of one language, Spanish, was imposed on us, and how Catalan, our very own language, had been put down. And I discovered, paradoxically, that many speakers of Spanish, those who had emigrated recently from Spain, were as illiterate in their language as we Catalans were in ours. 

Fully conscious of the socio-cultural tragedy taking place in my country, I dared ask my language and literature teacher at the time, Ms. Maria Rosa Espot, that we debate in class about this issue. “It would be too risky”, she told me. 

I felt her fear. However, not losing a beat, Ms. Espot encouraged me to keep reading and thinking, and she recommended to me “a great book by a great teacher, “La llengua dels barcelonins,” (The language of the Barcelonians) by professor Antoni Maria Badia i Margarit.” Ms. Espot was unable to not say her teacher’s name in a solemn and determined tone—an intense tone that I have never forgotten.

Llibert Ferri
Journalist and writer

Other articles by this author:
Europe’s Red Lines
The Baltic Way was the key to victory for the Singing Revolution

More about this topic here
Other Special Colaborators articles here
More about Catalan language here


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