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SPAIN: The Language Fight...



Miquel Strubell comments on my posting on the subject: RH:It could have been worse. Had the King refused to read the prepared message or changed it, the extreme left or someone would have charged him with violating the constitution, and the Civil War might have started all over again.' MS: Can you seriously mean this?" RH: Of course, the remark was ironical, but in history there are many cases when a single sentence has triggered a war.

RH: Whether he understood what he was reading is irrelevant.´ MS:The King has a competent team of advisers and specialists in pulbic relations. Any of them should have jumped at the text, well in time!" RH: Of course. My guess is that none of these advisers read the speech carefully, never dreaming that a literary event should cause such a problem.

RH:Poor King Juan Carlos unwittingly got caught in a fight among intellectuals. MS: You should listen to radio programmes: ordinary people phoning in by the hundred, to tell people about their ugly firsthand experience after Franco's victory. This is not about intellectuals, but about sheer ignorance / downright lies. It is a fullblooded attempt to rewrite Spanish history, from a profoundly centralist point of view. RH: This is important, but the fight among intellectuals was at the center of the squabble. Had they not been involved, the speech would have attracted less attention.

RH: It seems that Jon Juaristi had been Director of the National Library when she fired him, appointing in his place Luis Racionero, whom his enemies accused of plagiarism. MS: Joan Juaristi has been handsomely promoted, by the same Ministry, to the post of director of the Instituto Cervantes!! RH: I would question "handsomely promoted". The job he got it less prestigious than being Director of theNational Library.

RH: The Royal Spanish Academy of the Language objected to her too. MS: Despite constant repetitions of the error, it is called simply Royal Spanish Academy." RH: True. It was founded in imitation of the Académie Française, but since then so many academies have been founded that general usage specifies which one it is. In France, however, the Académie Française is just that. Membership in it is more honorific, whereas the Spanish Academia sticks to the language. Speaking of petty causes of war, remember what Pascal said: "If the nose of Cleopatra had been a little longer, how different the history of the world would have been." Or the Trojan War: "Is this the face which launched a thousand ships?" When Hitler threated the peace, Chamberlain told people to be careful inn their remarks, saying that a single word can trigger an avalanche.

Ronald Hilton - 5/7/01


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