Galicia: I will be posting my notes tomorrow from the book Otro Idea de Galicia. For today, I just wanted to reproduce these paragraphs from the chapter on the Galician language. Of course, my reason for doing so will only be properly understood by those who’ve followed the comments of a certain Galician gentleman – I use the term loosely – who lives in Britain but has strong – albeit absentee – opinions on the subject. The rest of you might want to knock off here for today.
It has to be said that one of the problems in the way of normalising Gallego has been some of its defenders. It’s always been difficult to explain why, almost 100 years after its foundation, the Royal Academy of the Galician Language hasn’t been able to deliver a proper grammar, dictionary or spelling scheme. This fell to another organisation, the Institute of the Galician Language(ILG). But, unfortunately, the ILG used a pretty controversial methodology, in line with keeping as far as possible the Spanish spelling used hitherto through ignorance. In the face of this, the ‘reintegracionista’ philologists proposed spellings more in keeping with the language’s history so as to ‘re-integrate’ it into its Portuguese-Brazilian family. However, the ‘reintegracionistas’ promptly fell out among themselves in an interminable debate about how close Gallego should be to Portuguese. So it was that, in the 80s, Galicia was witness to an unusual fact: a highly technical discussion of comparative linguistics carried out by graffiti and personal insults. Ultimately victory went to the linguists of the ILG, who had the support of the Xunta, who were nervous of the secessionist implications of Portuguese spellings. More prosaically, the Xunta worried that, as the spelling favoured by 'reintegracionistas' was quite difficult to learn, it would be a barrier to literacy among the new generations of speakers. To be honest, the 'reitegracionistas' are technically correct that Gallego and Portuguese are variants of the same language . . . . That said, the perception that they are distinct languages is so great that, in this case, that’s how things are. Portuguese culture tends to ignore Galician culture and, in this sense, the insistence of the 'reintegracionistas' is unrealistic.
Amen to that. Of course the ‘interminable debate’ carried out by insults is not yet over, having been given a boost by the internet. This despite the fact the reintegracionista cause is now even more lost than it was in the 1980s. One almost admires their perseverance. Even those odd souls who carry on the campaign from the UK. Marching to the beat of their own solitary drum.