Friday, October 17, 2008

You are what you speak

Most people in Galicia are bi-lingual from birth, speaking both Spanish and Galician (Gallego, Galego). Spain is a nation of many languages, in various regions of the country you hear not only Spanish being spoken but also Gallego, Basque-Euskadi, Catalan, and other dialects like Valenciano and Aragonese. Although these languages have a very long history, for a part of the 20th century they were forbidden by the government. Only, after the death of the Francisco Franco and the end of his dictatorship, did they begin to resurge. Walking around Santiago de Compostela today, most of the signs you see are written in Gallego, most of the conversations you hear are in Gallego, and even clerks at the grocery store speak first in Gallego then in Spanish if you don’t speak Gallego. There are Gallego television stations and newspapers, and kids study not only Spanish but also Gallego in school. Here in Galicia language is a very important part of the people and their culture, they take pride in re-establishing their own language and culture. On the New York Times website today I found an article about a Native American language that is dying after a century or more of being suffocated by government. Today only 200 people speak the language, but there is a movement to save the language and the culture by teaching the language to the children in school. Maybe as this language is reborn there will be a newfound pride and identity among the Arapaho people too.
Check out the article and the slideshow in the New York Times:

And, if you’re interested in the Galician language, check out the Galician newspaper, Galicia Hoxe:

And, why not, here’s the Wikipedia post on Gallego (I’m a language nerd):

¡Ata pronto e bo dia!

(ps...I found a Halloween window display!)
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