On 20th June, Plataforma per la Llengua has presented InformeCAT 2019, a compilation of the 50 most important statistics on the situation of the Catalan language (available in Catalan). With this report, the NGO that supports Catalan intends to raise awareness of the position of the Catalan language and the need to improve its legal status, based on the conviction that Catalan should be the common language providing a structure for the social and cultural diversity existing in this country.
"The position of the language, in terms of social use and linguistic rights, is worrying," said Òscar Escuder, chairman of Plataforma per la Llengua. "InformeCAT 2019 clearly shows statistics that are worrying in terms of the way the public authorities treat Catalan, but also in terms of public perceptions." Along these lines, the report notes that only two out of every ten Catalan-speakers feel secure speaking their language in front of a Spanish-speaking judge. This comes from figures collected by GESOP on behalf of Plataforma per la Llengua showing that six out of every ten Catalan-speakers believe speaking Catalan to a judge who has addressed them in Spanish can damage their cause. 16% believe this is unlikely but could happen and only 23% are sure it will not lead to problems for them. "That is to say, 59.5% of Catalan-speakers in Catalonia consciously or unconsciously perceive xenophobic attitudes by the judiciary against Catalan and Catalan-speakers," said Escuder. "The Spanish State and justice system have a serious problem: a majority of Catalan-speakers believe that using their language with the authorities can cause them problems. In other words, although Catalan is an official language, 60% of its speakers still believe they have to be careful when it comes to using it in court."
Catalan is a residual language in films subsidised by the Government of Catalonia
But it is not only the State that needs to improve its policies concerning the Catalan language, according to the organisation. "Two of the areas where we are furthest away from making the use of Catalan normal are justice and films," said Escuder. In the latter respect, Plataforma per la Llengua complains that 78% of the subsidies given by the Catalan Institute for Cultural Enterprise in 2018 for the production of feature films were for audiovisual work not including Catalan. This is noted in official figures from the Department of Culture, which show that more than €3,780,000 out of a total of over €4,800,000 was given to works not including Catalan in the original version. 52% went to films in Spanish only and 17.5% to bilingual Spanish/English films, while just 22.4% of the aid went to works that did include Catalan (10.6% to original-version films in Catalan only). "It goes without saying that this shows there is a long way to go before the position of the language in the sector becomes normal. An important part of what still needs doing involves making the Government of Catalonia aware of the importance of its role in Catalan becoming a normal language for film consumption and production. If the Catalan government doesn't consider and promote Catalan, who will?" asked Escuder. "Despite this negative statistic, the Department of Culture, through its Minister, has told us of its desire to work to reverse this situation as soon as possible." According to Plataforma per la Llengua, these deficits and problems represent a challenge for the institutions: "They need to improve their practices and find solutions for this."
Catalan: an inclusive language that's in demand
InformeCAT 2019 from Plataforma per la Llengua has also noted positive statistics indicating that Catalan is a living language that is in demand, and, above all, a tool for cohesion and inclusion. According to the report, unemployment among Spanish-speakers who use Catalan is half what it is among those who don't regularly speak it. In other words, people for whom Catalan is not their first language but who have adopted it as a normal language have a better chance of finding work. For them, instead of 21.7%, the unemployment rate is 11.7% - very close to the 11.3% unemployment rate among people whose native language is Catalan. "Put another way, a good command of Catalan makes it easier to find a job and that shows us Catalan is in demand: it is the language of inclusion and social mobility. The market wants Catalan-speakers and prioritises them ahead of people who don't speak Catalan," said Escuder. He said this statistic, extracted by combining three sets of figures from the Government of Catalonia's Barometer of Political Opinion, "rebuts those who still believe Catalan is no use for anything".
"The position of Catalan presents institutions, organisations and society in general with great challenges. One of the functions of InformeCAT 2019 is to help focus the debate," said Escuder.