Tuesday, February 16, 2016

No one forces you to speak Galician

I always try to avoid conflicts that are condemned to gridlock from the start. But sometimes when I hear absurd things I have to respond to them.

Im not against any language or nation, but I cant stand hate speech and absurd phrases that are put in the heads of simple-minded people. The maxims they repeat later, even if they sound funny, can be dangerous.

Even though the following conversation I had with a Galician is pretty common, it still makes me think about things a little:

Someone approached me and asked me a question that I didnt understand. He seemed to be a normal guy and really seemed to have a question. I could not have known that he was Galician. I guess thats not something that I could guess by looking at his hairstyle or the way his lips moved when he said certain words, because Im not Sherlock Holmes.

I politely told him that I hadnt understood him and I asked if he could repeat his question. Without thinking, I asked him this in Catalan, because its the language I usually use around here. It had never crossed my mind that the words I spoke out of politeness were rather like bait for a fisha fish full of hate and frustration toward the culture that this man was in the midst of.

You make me speak Catalan, he started to shout. In Galicia we dont make anyone speak Galician and here you always make everyone speak Catalan.

Who makes you? I tried to figure out where his problem was coming from, but the man was just shouting and it was impossible to have a fruitful conversation.

Speak to me in Galician or Mandarin if you know it, because the more languages we know, the richer we become. I tried calming him down but there was no way to communicate with him, because he just kept repeating the same words. Finally, I shrugged my shoulders and I left, so we wouldnt waste our time.

I regret not having pressed him to give me an answer to my question about who was making him speak Catalan (all Catalans, I guess...) and how exactly they were pushing him around to speak it. I surmise that neither the obligation nor the pressure to speak Catalan were very onerous, because this Galician man didnt seem to know a single Catalan word, not even for a courteous gesture or a rude insult.

Anita Janczak

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