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27 d’abr. 2017


"The founding of the Anglo-Catalan Society in 1954 and, a year later, the constitution of the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland, with Gonzalez Llubera elected as its first president, underscored the broadness of this church. Indeed, an anecdote from the same early post-war period illustrates nicely the local antipathy to the familiar anti-democratic sentiments behind the dominant unificatory instinct in Hispanisrn elsewhere.

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In its broadcasts to the peninsula in Spanish and Portuguese the BBC was to include, from 1947 onwards, fortnightly emissions in Catalan and Galician. The backlash from Spaniards of both Left and Right of the political divide was immediate. A witness to such a diabolic coalition was Josep Trueta, who described this communion of ideological opposites as a type of league for linguistic defence or “unitat nacional castellana,” incensed to a man by “l'insult al castellà", conveyed by these fortnightly half-hour programmes in Catalan and Galician (Trueta 296).

This outrage made itself known by visits of protestation to the BBC and the Foreign Office from, on the one hand, representatives in London of Negrín's Republican government in exile – who counted on the support of that great Galician Don Salvador de Madariaga (for fellow Oxonian Trueta relating the incident with tongue firmly in cheek, “el meu veí liberal”) - and, on the other, falangistas from Franco's Embassy (Garcia-Ripoll and Niqui Espinosa 88). Both extremes of the centralist political spectrum were mobilized, one suspects, by that same patriotic concern shared by the modern-day signatories of the Manifiesto en defensa de la lengua española who, in the face of the recovery of the peripheral languages of the state, have agitated vociferously - supported by Telecinco, Telemadrid and El Mundo - to safeguard the domestic primacy of their debilitated idiom of half a billion speakers watched over by 22 international academies.

 Fortunately, the BBC was unmoved by these overtures of linguistic imperialism and, refusing to relent, continued with these broadcasts for the next decade. This whole sad episode, however, offers a disturbing example of the inability across the centralist political spectrum to appreciate the low-key, democratic openness evident in Eliot's “consideration of the useful diversities” in a plurinational state. Rarely, in terms of cultural xenophobia and centralist abnegation of linguistic rights, can there have been a more telling illustration than the above of Josep Pla's acutely perceptive dictum: “No hi ha res més semblant a un espanyol de dretes que un espanyol d'esquerres." (Keown 2013: 29-30)

Dominic Keown (2013). "Dine with the Opposition? No, gracias! Hispanism versus Iberian Studies in Great Britain and Ireland", in  Joan Ramon Resina (ed.), Iberian Modalities: A Relational Approach to the Study of Culture in the Iberian Peninsula, 23-36. Liverpool University Press. 2013.

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