La imatge que projectem a la resta del món és una part de la nostra pròpia visió del món. Per això mateix resulta ben oportuna una rèplica apareguda en la llista Migjorn i enviada al Costa Blanca News, publicació valenciana en anglés per a consum internacional.
El cas és que havíem tornat a entropessar amb l’omnipotència apresa típica d’algunes persones amb inquietuds poc democràtiques i bastant depredadores, actitud que es mereix l’esmena mesurada i benhumorada de Joan-Carles Martí i Casanova.
Reproduïm tot seguit l’escrit a Migjorn (que conté la carta al Costa Blanca News), amb el permís del company Joan-Carles:
El Costa Blanca News és el setmanari degà de la Costa Blanca (diguem-ho clar, eufemisme per «província d’Alacant») i es publica des de 1971. Diuen arribar a gairebé 200.000 lectors cada setmana. El compre cada setmana. El 10 d’agost publicaren una ressenya sobre la Guia de Conversació Valencià-Anglès publicada per la Generalitat Valenciana. L’autor en diu moltes i molt grosses però les que més m’han arribat són: no és una llengua viva i tan sols ha conegut un llaurador vell que parlés valencià i el valencià no és una llengua perquè és una barreja de castellà i francès. El cas és que l’home no viu a València o Alacant sinó a la Marina!
Tan sols perquè en quede constància als arxius de Migjorn i malgrat no tenir temps per fer-vos-en una traducció en català, ara mateix, us envie la meva llarga resposta:
About the Valencian-English Conversation Guide
I am one of the few Valencian readers who very much enjoy reading their copy of the Costa Blanca News every week. As an Anglophile I do this both for professional and sentimental reasons. We also exist and I’m used to reading quaint information about Spaniards and their culture in these pages. I’ve made more than a Spanish friend chuckle whilst translating for them: «¡Estos ingleses no tienen remedio!» («There’s nothing you can do with the English!») I’m quite aware clichés exist on both sides.
The reason is quite simple. I’m fully bilingual, hold a Spanish MA degree in English Translation and Interpretation and a BA in Tourism Studies and I was brought up where the «Bush» started around Sydney.
No there weren’t any kangaroos around! Both my parents are from Elx (Elche, in Castilian) and we came back to the «homeland» when I was a teenager, ages ago. I still speak fluent Educated Australian and have no problem at all with the British dialects I hear everyday in Guardamar. Most of them are quite understandable for speakers of other English dialects! The fact is, I’ve read a book review (your «Leisure Guide», August 10, 2007) regarding the English-Valencian Conversation Guide, written by Danny Collins. I would like to thank Mr. Collins for his interest and for reviewing my language since we came back as members of the lost «Valencian Australian tribe». We all spoke (7 of us) Valencian as a first language (in my case with a slight Australian accent at that time) and I actually ended up marrying a local girl who speaks the same language which we have passed on, as a first language too, to both out teenage children who can now speak Valencian and Spanish and reasonable English and French.
Mr Collins states: «no one I know speaks Valenciano as their first language» (he then patronises again to add: «there “language”, I’ve said it except one old farmer who asked me if I liked citrons.»)
Ignorance is certainly bliss, dear Mr. Collins. Since Valencian is the first language of over 2,5 million Valencians (over half of the current regional population, which includes resident British ex-pats and other non-nationals from all over the world.) There are even huge «counties» (comarques in Valencian) where it is the first language of over 80 % of the population.
I agree most Valencians will answer «buenos días» to your «bon dia» («Good Day» in English is also similar to «Guten Tag» in German and both are Germanic). We tend to think the Brits are unable to learn any of our languages and we were taught, under more severe political regimes, that it was rude to answer in our native tongue. The fact is Valencian was the only official language here until 1707 a date we share with the Scots who are now celebrating their «300 years in the Union». Since I’ve got a few established adult British friends who speak beautiful Valencian I strongly disagree. The fact is all children learn Valencian at school and some non-native speakers even speak it in the playground or in their friends’ homes. Very much the way I learnt English as a child.
Regarding linguistics and language classification Valencian is a variation of the Catalan language very much like the relationship between the British Isles and America. The written language is almost the same. Mr Collins states that it would be too much a mixture of French and Castellano (Spanish) to be a language. There is a Latin continuum from Italy to Portugal. It’s a difficult subject and needs an essay.
No one would consider English as a German dialect, full of French and Latinate words since the Middle Ages. Shall we say English is a dialectal mixture of German and French? We certainly won’t and I strongly recommend you look up the Internet for information from your very best British scholars. Great Britain universities also happen to be a world power in thought and mind. For those of you interested please check up the Anglo-Catalan Society at: www.anglo-catalan.org You’ll be surprised to find out Catalan is widely spoken from Perpignan in southern France all the way down to Guardamar where it is still the home language of many of the locals, including the Lady Mayor herself.
«Moltes gràcies per haver-me llegit» meaning, in Catalan or Valencian: thank you for having read me.
Mr. Joan-Carles Martí i Casanova
Guardamar del Segura