Language as a cultural weapon

by José Luis Pérez Óvilo

Discrimination, Professor J. Wells says, is a systematically unfair behaviour against a particular human group, there being innumerable discriminating manners. But, what about linguistic discrimination? Talking about linguistic discrimination is not talking about a branch of discrimination, but about the tree trunk itself, about the part which joins all their branches and guides us to the very roots of discrimination. We can think of the connotations of languages regarding sex; let's think about ethnic racial discrimination by which the minorities in every country are forced to study and use the languages of the majorities; let's reckon that the citizens in poor countries are forced to learn one or several European languages, always hegemonic, while the opinion of the Europeans regarding their languages is of absolute disdain, not knowing even their names, in spite of being spoken by millions of people, calling them dialects or jargon. And so happens in Spain, where the educational system of the Education and Culture Ministry forces everybody to study English: it is the evident prove that it is a surrendered country whose unable rulers cooperate openly —in connivance with the boisterous silence of teachers— with the master country for the increase of its hegemony.

The extraordinary importance of languages was, is and will be huge, and so have said many linguists from every nationality: A. von Humboldt spoke about the soul's reconstruction, Miguel de Unamuno said: my spirit's blood is my language; the celtologue Weisberger said that the word takes the man from his inner world out to the external reality and so he spoke about the language community because in it man develops his spiritual life; the occitan ethnist F. Fontan teaches us that language forms and expresses the underlying ethnic conscience; and G. Mounin adds that every language divides reality in different aspects, ignoring what other languages enhance and stating what others forget, because languages do not analyze the same objective in the same way: capital aspects in human life, which educators should be aware of, and interested and worried about.

It should have to be pointed out that decisions regarding foreign languages which must be studied in schools are mere political consequences imposed by the powerful country upon the weak one: school language curriculum do not fall from the sky, nor appear out of nothing. And so once it was confirmed in Murcia by Mr. Alvaro Marchesi, the second in the Ministry of Education, when he said that the Ministry would inaugurate an English Course sold by the BBC (as usual) through the second channel of TVE (Spanish TV) —without counterpart at the British television— from which six thousand pupils in the region will be benefited, calling the project ambitious while not even one of the 500 principals from Murcia asked any question about that, even being not waivable and fundamental an issue for an educator the election between linguistic discrimination or linguistic democracy. Those who talk with educational ointment about educating in solidarity , in respect and human rights; those who have as a task educating integral people with ability for criticism; and those who fight discrimination on the grounds of race, nationality, sex, ideas..., cannot go on fomenting, encouraging, animating or tolerating linguistic discrimination!

Esperanto España ~ Fernando Sor ~ Narciso Yepes

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Last updated on Tuesday 6th of January 1998 at 16:33:07