March 4, 2007

I Love An Endangered Language Too, But This Goes A Little Too Far

In my pre-blog days, before CQ literally ate all my other hobbies, I studied the Irish language and had become a conversational speaker of an Gaeilge. Is Gaeilgeoirí mé, or at least I used to be, and there was a sense of mission in helping to keep a threatened language from dying altogether. Irish is only spoken by a million people altogether, and much fewer than that as an everyday language; for more information, Gaeltacht Minnesota's website is a great resource.

The Catalan language is similarly threatened, in this case by Spanish. However, I don't think that the Irish would have approved the Catalonian approach to saving their, er, tongue:

It is homage to Catalonia as never seen before. A Spanish pornographer has been given nearly £10,000 of public money to make a series of blue movies, promoting the Catalan language.

Pro-separatist authorities in the Catalan region of north-east Spain approved the grant as part of their agenda to "promote Catalan in every medium".

They awarded the film-maker, Conrad Son, nearly £7,000 to make one film and then a further £3,000 to show it along with two other examples of his work at a women's erotic film festival in the regional capital, Barcelona, last year. Details of the funding emerged when records of spending decisions by the regional government, the Generalitat, were made public.

It caused a national outcry, with critics saying the grants were the latest example of public money being wasted by hard-line Catalan nationalists, who hold power in the hung regional government.

This sounds like an excuse for Catalonian men to use for watching porn. No, honey, I watch it for the language lessons.

It sounds like a great idea, except that no one watches porn for its sparkling dialogue. In that sense -- and in that sense only -- porn is like the silent films of days gone by; they're universal and need no translation. Viewers of that genre do not need every "Oh, baby" and more explicit exclamations translated: they get the general idea. Very few, if any, of these movies come close-captioned for the hearing impaired.

The decision by the Catalan government to grant these pornographers £10,000 of taxpayer money speaks volumes about the priorities of the regional government. Catalonians should also be outraged at this official prostitution of their endangered language. I'm sure they want to multiply the number of native speakers there, but this is taking that a little too far.


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