NORTHERN CATALONIA

2. Activist Joan Daniel Bezsonoff
'A language can be spoken correctly even if it's only learned in school, but it will only be a living language if it's spoken at home.'
'It would be fantastic to apply here, in Northern Catalonia, the linguistic policy of the Partido Popular in the Valencian region. Because even the most hard-line Spanish right-winger is more open than the French right', says Joan Daniel Bezsonoff.

His most recent book, La presonera d'Alger (The prisoner of Algiers), is also his first to be published in the Principat (Catalonia). 'Here (in Northern Catalonia) no one took any notice of me, and now that I've been published in the South everyone says 'Bien, tu publie à Barcelone'. Because Barcelona is the capital city, after all'.

Bezsonoff, born in Perpignan in 1963, was a little known writer for many years. This serves to keep his feet on the ground. 'I'm very vain,' he admits, 'and this allows me to keep success in context'. Bezsonoff endeavours to lend greater dignity to the Rossellonès idiom. Even those who believe it ought to be supported do not always take it seriously. 'What the schools promote in the majority of cases is a Catalan that is closer to the central idiom than to the Rossellonès....A language can be spoken correctly even if it's only learned in school, but it will only be a living language if it's spoken at home'.

He describes the French national education system as 'one of the most efficient brain-washing machines that has operated in the last two centuries, with the purpose of killing off the non-French languages and identities in order to consolidate French as the sole language of the country'.

Be that as it may, Bezsonoff sums up his feelings with characteristic irony. 'I used to be very pessimistic and now I'm just pessimistic. For the last twenty years I've been warning that Catalan was dying, and it seems that it isn't. That is a good sign'.









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