01 October 2011

Minorities: Can't Get Away!

My head is still a little screwy and so sometimes when I intend to respond in Spanish, I end up answering in my bad Slovak/Rusyn mix with some Italian thrown in.  The local idiom is Mallorquín, a dialect of Catalan -- one notable difference is in gendered pronouns, but there are other differences as well.  Being here is similar to being in Prešov - you can walk into a café and hear people speaking among themselves in their own language, and then they unquestioningly accommodate when you (have to) speak to them in the National language.

Of course, because this is Europe, language is mega-tied-up with identity.  And, I live in a town that caters mostly to Brits.   One of the benefits of this is that it's possible to get a cider on tap, and so this week when I walked into a local establishment for a Strongbow, I got to meet Al the Welsh Barkeep -- whose grandkids in Wales don't even speak English yet and there is happiness that Wales is more autonomous than it once was.

It's really super cool to be somewhere where everyone already understands and enjoys and benefits on a system-wide level from being a minority.  This doesn't mean that all Spaniards are all completely happy with this, though.  My landlady is from the mainland and speaks Català as a second language and is definitely of the opinion that while it is very important to know and speak Català here, it's also really important to speak Castellano well, too.  Fine with me -- more and, not either or.

Hopefully this is a topic that I can keep coming back to as this experience continues.

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