“Catalan” or “Valencian”?: On linguistic secessionism in the Valencian Autonomous Region
By Hans-Ingo Radatz (Otto-Friedrich University of Bamberg)
(Translated from the original German version, published in the “Zeitschrift für Katalanistik” 6, 1993, pp. 97-120)
The lack of unanimity regarding the correct denomination of Catalan in the Valencian Autonomous Region  has a long tradition. The former abundance of names (romanç pla, llemosí, catalanesc, etc.) has over the years been reduced to two options, Catalan or Valencian, both today in common use. However, two phenomena --often joined, but not logically connected-- must be clearly distinguished. On the one hand, the use of different names for the Catalan language in Valencia; on the other, the claim that Valencian is a separate language, different and independent from Catalan. The use of the name Valencian in past times did never imply this secessionist position. See, for instance, the following statement:
“It has already been said that the Valencian writers which during the XVth and XVIth centuries used the name “Valencian” for their language, did not try to deny the linguistic unity of Valencia with Catalonia and Majorca” (SANCHIS GUARNER 1983: 39) 
As long ago as the XVIIIth century, during the so-called Decadència, one of the first writers to formulate the hypothesis of an independent Valencian language was Marc Antoni Orellana, but this had no practical consequences, since the majority of writers at that time wrote almost exclusively in Spanish, and speakers of Valencian where not interested in discussions about the linguistic affiliation of their language.
With the beginning of the Renaixença (a XIXth century mouvement to regain the former prestige of the language and culture found in the Catalan-speaking regions) two groups with different views concerning the language developed in Valencia:
“On the one hand there was the antiquarian, moderate and cultist group of Llorente, Querol, Labaila [...], who were intellectuals styled after the “felibres” with scant impact within the Valencian bourgeoisie, the castilianization of which they did not try to counteract. On the other hand there was a more popular, less cultured group, the one of Constantí Llombart, Escalante, Liern [...], in general self-educated sons of craftsmen, with liberal or republican leanings, who were more attracted towards the culture of the people than towards that of intellectuals”. (SANCHIS GUARNER 1983: 46)  .
The first ones, the “cultistes”, wrote in an old-fashioned kind of Valencian, which they called llemosí, that was more or less identical with what was used in Catalonia and Majorca. The second group used a Valencian which was strongly regional and colloquial, full of Castilianisms which had been borrowed uncritically. This Valencian reproduced closely the spoken language, using to do so the spelling conventions of Castilian. A typical example of this pre-standard spelling can be found in the following stage directions by Josep Bernat i Baldoví for his play El virgo de Visanteta of the year 1845:
“La cantá [cantada] esta pasa en el poble de Favára, en lo reyne de Valensia. El treato [sic!] representa cuansevól cosa; una sala, un corrál, ó una pallisa, y encara que siga un estable, no vól dir res. [...] Si hiá cadires, bé, y si no niá també; el que vullga que s’asente en terra. En la paret frontera dos cuadros penchats, la ú del Pare Etern, y l’altre de Sen Róc; [...]. Yaurá també dos o tres portes tancáes [tancades], que no se sap ahón cauen, y si no les tanquen, millór. [...] Arreglat ya tot asó, encesos els cresolets, y depues de pegár sét, ú huit trompaes [trompades] la orquesta, pucha capamunt el teló, y escomensa la festa. (BERNAT I BALDOVÍ 1977: 7-8)  .
The conflict between the two positions was essentially a conflict based on the distance between the literary language and the spoken colloquial language, and not on the difference between Catalan and Valencian. The anticultists or vulgarists position (Sanchis Guarner 1983: 46) was represented for instance by the grammarian Josep Nebot i Pérez, who in his grammar from 1894 proposed a spelling system which closely mimicked dialectal pronunciation. As the following quotation from his Apuntes para una gramática valenciana, from 1894, shows, the problem for Nebot was not what kind of language was spoken in Valencia, but what criteria should be followed in trying to write it. Even though he then rejected it, he did consider the possibility of adopting the spelling norms used in Catalonia:
“I think the moment has arrived when two different grammars should be written: [...] one for the literary language, and one for the popular one. The first one should be written by Lo Rat Penat, or by whoever is an authority in the field (if one does not simply adopt the literary Catalan grammar, which is maybe the most reasonable thing to do), and the second one, the one we are publishing here”  .
Among the strongest defenders of an anticultist orthography we find Josep Maria Bayarri, who in many of his works sought to rise his apitxat subdialect of Valencian to the level of a literary language:
“Ara nosatros, avem netexat, fiqsat i depurat de grafies apsurdes la esqritura de la nostra llengua, fasilitanla a tots per a qe tots els qe parlen l’idioma sapien llexirlo i qonseqüentment esqriurel” (quoted in SANCHIS GUARNER 1983: 187)  .
None of these proposals could prevail, however, even though the necessity of a general compulsory norm became increasingly obvious.
Following the progress of the program of linguistic normalization undertaken by the Philological Section of the Institut d’Estudis Catalans, the Catalan National Academy, due especially to Pompeu Fabra (Normes Ortogràfiques 1913, Gramàtica Catalana 1918, Diccionari general de la llengua catalana 1932), Fabra’s standard Catalan norm prevailed finally also in the region of Valencia. Discussion there about spelling ended, de facto, with the adoption of the so-called Normes de Castelló in 1932, which were signed by representatives of nearly all Valencian public and non-governmental institutions  . It was agreed that the norms of the Institut d’Estudis Catalans, elaborated by Pompeu Fabra, will be used, with only slight changes, also in Valencia. This was in no way ‘revolutionary’, since Fabra had always taken into account the whole linguistic area of Catalan; he did not just standardise his own dialect, as was done by the majority of earlier philologists who proposed pan-Catalan spelling systems. The historical meaning of the agreement of Castelló was very obvious for the signatories, as we can see in the solemnity of their statements:
“We are all very pleased. The writers and scholars of the Valencian region, and the leading institutions and publishing houses from our land, with a patriotism which cannot be praised enough, have reached the agreement to accept the spelling system described here. There is no need to point out that no-one has lost in this deal, since the philological authorities who have signed it can continue adhering to their scientific convictions, garantors of further advances” (from the Normes de Castelló. Quoted by PÉREZ MORAGÓN 1982a. 135-6)  .
The general acceptance of the Normes de Castelló was made possible most of all because they were formulated very diplomatically: First, they codified only the orthography, not the lexicon or the morphology; second, they used as name for the newly codified language neutral descriptors, such as “the vernacular language”, “the characteristic speech of the Valencian region”, “our own language” or “the indigenous language”, aiming to make it possible for all, pancatalanists and secessionists, to sign these norms. Even those who claimed that Valencian and Catalan are two different languages were aware of the fact that their signature under the Normes de Castelló meant that they agreed to spell that independent language using the Catalan spelling system.
Unavoidably, there were in Valencia, as also in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, voices opposing these norms; but among the people in these regions who actually did write in Catalan --journalists, pamphleteers, scientists, etc.--, these norms found general acceptance. Nowadays, in the Valencian Autonomous Region, seventy years after they had been approved, they are the basis of the written intellectual life expressed by Valencians  . Schools, universities, all regional government departments, most poets, essayists, novelists, etc. (Vicent Andrés Estellés, Joan Fuster, Joan F. Mira, Enric Valor, Josep Piera, and many others) use the Normes de Castelló, slightly adapted to Valencian linguistic particularisms  .
In spite of this evident success, demands that what was called “Catalan imperialism” be stopped, grew ever more vociferous in Valencia. The secessionists claim that the “Llengua Valenciana” is a separate linguistic entity, totally different from Catalan (which they consider a “foreign language”), worthy to be standardized and to be declared the official language of Valencia. Until a few years ago this debate happened mostly in local clubs and societies and among eccentric self-styled linguists. Their discussions did not spread because the acceptance of the Normes de Castelló continued to be overwhelming, even though they imply that the Catalan Countries, with all their dialects, form a linguistically coherent whole, and because academic linguists from all over the world kept affirming that “Valencian” must be included in the dialectal continuum of that western Romance language the traditional scientific name of which is “Catalan”, and which spreads from the town of Salses (today in France) to Guardamar in Alacant, and from the borders with Aragon in the West, to the Balearic Islands (and the town of Alguer on Sardinia) in the East  . Renowned scientists have many times expressed their opinion against the secessionist position, denying any scientific basis for it  .
During many years, the groups that are today anticatalanist had existed, without causing problems, around one organization, the Rat Penat, and within the framework of the Jocs Florals (patriotic poetry contests) together with other catalanist organizations, with which they even cooperated sometimes. Towards the end of the Franco regime and with the return of democracy to Spain, this “peaceful coexistence” ended in 1974, and an anticatalanist campaign began, continuing until these days. The foundation of the Academia (sic!, without an accent) de Cultura Valenciana must be considered in this context  . This institution was created on January 31st 1978 by changing the statutes and name of the former Centro de Cultura Valenciana, a rather castilianized organization founded in 1915 that had never shown great interest in linguistic matters and the preservation of Valencian, even though in 1932 it had signed the Normes de Castelló and even “had defended openly the unity of Catalan”. (SEBASTIÀ 1991a: 10)  . Although it considers itself a totally new institution, with new bylaws, the Academia profits nevertheless from its roots in the former organization: It celebrated, in 1990, twelve years after its foundation, its 75th anniversary.
The Sección de Lengua y Literatura of this institution (observe that this official name is in Spanish) began its activity with the elaboration of a new Valencian orthography, which in fact was based on the proposals made by Miquel Adlert –who had been a frequent contributor of the publications of the (pro-Franco) Movimiento-- in his book: En defensa de la llengua valenciana: perquè i com s’ha d’escriure la que es parla (“In defence of the Valencian language: why, and how, the language now spoken should be the one to be written”) (1977). Attempts made during the pre-autonomic process to make his spelling rules the official norm, had failed. Afterwards, the defenders of the secessionist norms called their supporters to a meeting on March 7th 1981 at the Monastery of El Puig (a hill north of Valencia, of great historical importance; thus we will be speaking about the Normes del Puig). According to their manifesto they gathered there:
“signatures from one thousand intellectuals and representatives of cultural groups of the Kingdom of Valencia, in favour of the Valencian Academy of Culture and in favour of the orthographic norms for the Valencian language that the Language and Literature section of this Academy has established”  (quoted by PÉREZ MORAGÓN 1982b: 35).
As a matter of fact, the attempt to institutionalize the Normes del Puig failed, and people who really spoke and wrote Valencian did not accept them, not even members of the Academia:
“But even inside the Academy these norms are not accepted unanimously. For the great majority of its members they are an unimportant thing, since they do not speak Valencian and always write in Spanish. All the publications and communiqués, with the exception of the ones of the philological section, are written in Spanish”. (SEBASTIÀ 1991a: 11)  .
The political events of the last few years gave a new life to these discussions --where there was nothing new left to be said, neither by politicians nor by linguists-- opening an avenue to the debate that had not been known yet. After the elections of May 26th 1991, the balance of political forces in Valencia, where the PSOE socialists had enjoyed until then a comfortable majority, changed. Now the PP conservatives seized power, in coalition with the rightist UV regionalists, under their president Vicente González Lizondo. This man was known not only for his populism, but also for his radical anticatalanism. Now the defenders of the sectarian secessionist position enjoyed real power, being now in a position to give official administrative expression to their anticatalanism, even though, at the moment, this was only possible in the city of Valencia  . But the worst fears materialized after the polls. City Councillor María Dolores García Broch stated repeatedly that, in areas falling under her competence, she wanted to replace documents written with the Normes de Castelló with texts written with the secessionist spelling of the obscure Academia de Cultura Valenciana:
“Last week, María Dolores García Broch, City councillor of Valencia from the UV party, responsible for Education, stated that she was ordering all museums in the city to change the titles of exhibited items to the secessionist Valencian spelling. Furthermore, correspondence between her Department and the schools, will no longer follow the Normes de Castelló. According to García Broch’s opinions, the aim was simply “to translate those texts into correct Valencian”. The norms of this “correct Valencian” were the ones of the Valencian Academy of Culture. [...] The Academy was beeing acknowledged by an official of the city as being the authority and guide in linguistic matters, something which had never happened before. [...] Now the government of the most important city of the Valencian Atonomous Region [...] had raised these norms to the level of authority. The secession of Catalan was institutionalized”. (SEBASTIÀ 1991a: 10)  .
One of the newest secessionist contributions to the debate is the Gramatica de la llengua valenciana, published in 1987 by Antoni Fontelles, a graduate of high-school, Laura García and Joaquim Lanuza, who have degrees in Hispanic Philology. The three collaborated in the Language and Literature Section of the Academy  . In normal circumstances, little attention would have been paid to this book in scientific circles, but after the changes in external conditions, as we have pointed out, the book attracted attention. The book is not just another grammar, but an ambitious attempt to present the speech of Valencia as a separate language, independent from Catalan. It also tries to give scientific standing to the secessionist position. Its title, its index and its terminology give this grammar the look of a scholarly publication. The amount of copies that were sold --or given away-- in the Valencian Autonomous Region is amazing  . When all facts are considered, the suspicion arises that influential pressure groups stood behind this success.
Books entitled “Grammar” can have different purposes. Xavier Casp’s prologue shows us the ones which were not followed by the three authors:
“There is no doubt that this grammar is neither traditional, nor comparative, nor historical, nor -of course- compulsory or normative, because individual authors cannot dictate norms.” (FONTELLES/GARCÍA/LANUZA 1987: 10)  .
However, individual authors can, and should, recommend and justify the rules for a language. A quick perusal of the book’s index shows that a substantial part of the book is indeed devoted to orthographical and prescriptive matters. In fact, and despite the statements in the Prologue, the orthographical and morphological standardization of the “Valencian language” is the main purpose of this book; all other matters are secondary. Honestly speaking, the title of this book should be The Norms of the Valencian Culture Academy. Contrary to the fist impression, the book is addressed to the general reader, who has no philological background, but who is interested in questions of language. To this general public, unfamiliar with linguistics, a minoritary opinion is offered as “scientific fact” which is considered totally irrelevant by specialists  . Catalan (a word used only two or three times in the book) is treated as if it were, without any doubts, a “foreign language”. The authors do not offer any arguments for why the Normes de Castelló should be replaced by new spelling conventions.
In view of its renewed resurgence, we are going now to analyse critically the position and the arguments of the secessionists. In their discourse there is a number of continually repeated topics, as can be seen, for instance, in the following page written by Laura García:
“The independence of the Valencian language can be attributed to the following reasons: cultural reasons (as a part of the Valencian culture, which it transmits, it should be referred to as “Valencian language”); literary reasons (the writers who formed the first Golden Age in any Romance languages wrote in Valencian, and they called their language “Valencian”); historical reasons (a separate Romance language had evolved out of Latin in Valencia and developed there until it became the “Valencian language”) and linguistic reasons (the different influences that the Valencian language has received over the years have given it specific features and its own particularisms)” (Laura García Bru in the newspaper Levante from October 1st 1980. Quoted by PÉREZ MORAGÓN 1982b: 38-9).
The first argument, the “cultural reason”, is nothing but a simple word definition. The relationship between the “Valencian language” and Catalan is never discussed but it is always presented as something which is assumed to be evident; according to the secessionists’ point of view they are two totally different languages. The reasoning is based on the following, obviously fallacious, syllogism:
Pointing out to the secessionists that a Cuban is not a Spaniard, or that an Australian is not an Englishman, but that nobody claims that four separate languages are involved in these two examples, has not led them to change their position. The differences between the Catalan language that is spoken in Valencia and the one spoken in Catalonia are minimal. Obviously, the number of differences can be shown to be rather high if one compares the Barcelona dialect called xava that can be heared on TV3 [the regional Catalan television channel] with the castilianized apitxat dialect from the city of Valencia. But if one compares a speaker from Lleida in Catalonia with one from Dénia in Valencia, both pertaining to the western Catalan group of dialects, such differences are quite insignificant. If one were to give official status to every particular dialect in the Federal Republic of Germany, we would find in the area of Hochdeutsch (standard southern German) alone the following “languages”: Rhine Franconian, Moselle Franconian, Ripuarian, Turingian, Upper Saxon, Southern Franconian, Eastern Franconian, Suabian-Alemannian and Bavarian-Austrian.
During the formative period preceding 1932 there reigned in Valencia total grammatical and orthographical anarchy. Should linguistic standardization have been attempted in those years, it is possible that linguistic norms for writing Valencian could have been instituted which would have been quite different from the Normes de Castelló, although with it the general castilianization would have been strengthened. But the admirable written medieval tradition had been forgotten, and the dialectalization process in the whole Catalan-speaking area was at an advanced stage. In addition, nobody had much knowledge of the dialectal varieties in use in the Valencian region. Valencian could have become –-as described by KLOSS 1967-- a standardized language independent from Catalan norms, being treated as the kind of language Kloss calls Ausbausprache [construed language]. Since a language includes linguistic and sociocultural elements, Kloss differentiates, according to their degree of individualization, two types of languages: Abstandsprachen [separated languages], which have the status of a language because they are obviously different from all their neighboring languages; and Ausbausprachen [construed languages] which, judged by their basic linguistic features, can be considered varieties of another language, but which their speakers wanted to become independent languages through a conscious differentiation process  . (For an example, see the Norwegian nynorsk, elaborated by consciously increasing and stressing the differences with the sister language Danish.) But when the chaos of linguistic norms ended in 1932 with the acceptance of the Normes de Castelló, a conscious decision had been made by Valencian intellectuals against developing a separate “Neovalencian” language and in favour of a standardized polycentric pancatalan literary language: the Catalan which by now is firmly established.
The second reason for the independence of Valencian, according to García, is “literary”. As we have already pointed out, the expression “Valencian language” was never used by classical Valencian writers to mean that they did not use the same language as was written and spoken also in Barcelona or Palma (See SANCHIS GUARNER 1983: 21-47). Carles Salvador himself, who was maybe the most important proponent to accept in Valencia the Normes de Castelló and to write in standardized Catalan, entitled his book, also in its many reprints, Gramàtica Valenciana. He did not do so with the intent of denying the unity of Catalan. Still, we can observe here the curious mixture of the two separate phenomena that we are considering: the name of the language, and the affiliation of that language.
As third argument García mentions “historical reasons”, stating that: “a separate Romance language had evolved out of Latin in Valencia and developed there until it became the “Valencian language””  .
García is applying the hypothesis that claims that the Catalan conquerors of Valencia met there an indigenous Mozarabic population which had spoken since Roman times a more and more evolved Latin. Just as in Catalonia Latin had changed into Catalan. The inhabitants of Valencia had their own autochthonous language when the Catalan conquerors arrived: Mozarabic. Philologists and historians are still debating if at the time of the Catalan conquest Valencian Mozarabic could still have been alive in some isolated areas, or if it had disappeared everywhere. But the probability of a massive survival of Mozarabic, as the aforementioned hypothesis presupposes, is generally considered nil: 
“Was a community of Romance-speaking Mozarabs on hand to welcome King Jaume and his invaders? The thesis is popular but untenable. A negligible scattering of Mozarabs, especially among the lower classes, may have survived the persecutions and mass emigrations under the Almohads, to influence the crusaders’ Catalan into a Valencian form. The abundant crusade sources are thunderously silent on any such survivors, nor did they ever serve as intermediaries during or after the crusade” (Robert I. Burns; quoted by FERRANDO 1989: 118).
The ‘mozarabic’ theories elaborated along different lines by A. Ubieto and other Valencian historians are described by Antoni Ferrando as
“characterized by selfserving manipulations of historical facts and by their lax methodology, which toes the line of a castilianizing ideology, which is, in short, antivalencian”. (FERRANDO 1989: 123-4)  .
The fourth and last of García’s argument is based on “linguistic reasons”, claiming that
“the influences that the Valencian language has received over the years were different from those suffered by Catalan and have given it its own features and particularities”  .
This observation is quite correct, but it does not invalidate the assumption that Valencian is a variety of Catalan even though it has “its own features and particularities”.
To these four arguments of García we can add the following, repeated again and again by linguistic secessionists opposed to standardized Catalan:
“The Normes de Castelló were nothing than a copy--in some respects a rather bad one-- of the ones Pompeu Fabra had previously written for the Catalan language. [...] They contain important insufficiencies (a) in the way they were written, (b) in the way they are explained and documented, (c) in their linguistic underpinnings, (d) because they lack some graphemes, and finally, the most important one: (e) they are inadequate for the present reality of the Valencian language.” (FONTELLES/GARCÍA/LANUZA 1987: 19)  .
The main criticism is based on the fact that standard written Catalan is, in many respects, quite removed from the colloquial language. That this is regretted shows the pre-scientific mind-set of the authors. They do not seem to realize that all standard languages are conventional systems that have a concrete function to accomplish: To establish a standard diatopic compromise which is not based on any specific dialectal variety alone. This we can observe in all of Europe’s official languages. Very often this is achieved by recommending as standard words and forms those which can be found in more than one region. Very localized dialectal forms, though not included in the standard variety, are nervertheless not proscribed and recommended to be kept alive in speaking and writing in a regional context. A standard language can achieve supra-regionality --its main function-- if it dares to make such selections. These may be made by looking at the number of users of a specific form, by favouring certain dialects over others, by favoring etymological transparency and morphological consistency, phonetic preferablility, etc. The result cannot be rejected simply because it does not reflect perfectly one’s own regional variety. Consequently, whoever criticizes that the Normes de Castelló do not reflect spoken Valencian makes the same mistake as someone who says that standard written English is not suitable for Canada (or India, the United States, etc.), because it does not mirror the present linguistic reality of those countries.
The problem of how to arrive at supra-regional standards for writing Valencian is never studied by secessionists, even though they would have to elaborate such standards for their standard language if it were to be used in the whole of the Valencian region, linguistically as diverse as Catalonia. We find very often the surprising statement that the rules for that “Valencian language”, once free of any external “dead weight”, will be easy to be mastered, flawlessly and effortlessly, by all Valencians, after a simple explanation of the main principles. This illusion can already be found in Josep Maria Bayarri (see SANCHIS GUARNER 1983: 187), who believed that whoever can read a language can also write it. It appears also in the Prologue to the aforementioned Gramatica de la llengua valenciana by FONTELLES/GARCÍA/LANUZA, where Xavier Casp says about himself:
“I had already spoken and written before seeing any grammar, as anyone does” (FONTELLES/GARCÍA/LANUZA 1987: 10)  .
It is obvious that Casp means here speaking and writing in Valencian, his native, but socio-culturally secondary language, he had learned without needing schoolbooks. But it can be taken for granted that he did not start to write in Castilian before having worked through Spanish grammars and dictionaries. The demand that the written form of one’s language should be accessible effortlessly is based either on the belief that that language presents a total diatopical and diastratical homogeneity, which is not a realistic assumption, or that the standardized language does not have to consider the necessities of today’s worldwide civilization and communication. Today it is general knowledge that
“Standardized languages, since they are the medium for our advanced culture, must combine our langage transmis (the language learned at home) and our langage appris (the language learned in school). [...] Elaborating such a language, usually a ‘national’ language, implies universalization, abstraction and codification, [...] which leads to a linguistic system which requires a substantial and rigorous learning effort, while we got our native and popular language effortlessly” (PETRUCK 1991: 32-33)  .
The secessionists, however, think that their Valencian spelling system is a simple and easy phonetic or phonemic transcription of the way they speak  .
A simple example will show us how mirroring the spoken language in spelling means a simplification only at first sight, and this only for speakers of a single dialect, not for everyone in the linguistic continuum the standardized language has to serve. The secessionist Normes del Puig proscribe the form < nosaltres >, because this form is “Catalan” and is not used in Valencia. Instead we hear the “authentic” Valencian form < nosatres >. A look at the entry “NOSALTRES” in Alcover/Moll’s “Diccionari Català-Valencià-Balear” shows thirty-five varieties of the word “nosaltres” used in all these regions, while nosaltres  is only recorded in two places: Sort (Pallars Sobirà) and Pont de Suert (Alta Ribagorça). This means that Pompeu Fabra did not standardize the most frequent form (nor the Barcelonese one). For the Valencian Autonomous Region alone, the DCVB lists seven variant forms: nozátres, nozátros, nátros, mozátros, mosátros, moátros, mátros. Which one of these forms best represents true “Valencian”? The choice of < nosatres > seems rather arbitrary. Users of the other six varieties who want to speak or write real “Valencian” will have to learn a new form, one which they do not use spontaneously. It becomes obvious that the Normes del Puig, against their original intention, the more they try to reduce the learning effort for speakers of one varity of Valencian, the more they increase it for those of other varieties  .
From a linguistic point of view, the acritical acceptance of the hypothesis that Valencian is totally different from Catalan, a separate and homogeneous linguistic system, needing its own orthography, grammar, syntax, etc., is untenable. As a matter of fact, Valencian does not even form a close dialect complex (as we find, for instance, on the Balearic islands). There are no relevant bundles of isoglosses that separate the Western Catalan spoken in the Valencian Autonomous Region from the dialects found in Western Catalonia. The ending -o of the first person singular, present indicative, of verbs in -ar, considered by many to be non-Valencian, can be found in many places of the Valencian Autonomous Region: in Alcalà de Xivert, Peníscola, Vinaròs, and many other places, people say /canto/ and not /cante/ (see Veny 1983: 152). On the other hand, the Tortosa dialect has some such “typically Valencian” forms as /juí/ (judici), /vore/ (veure), /en/ (amb) (Veny 1983: 148). From a strictly dialectologic point of view, the term “Valencian” does not make sense if it does not have the meaning of ‘dialect continuum inside the territory of the medieval Kingdom of Valencia’.
Differently from what the authors of the Normes del Puig want to make believe, when Pompeu Fabra elaborated his orthographical norms he considered not only variant forms found in Catalonia, but also those found in the region of Valencia (and in other regions of the medieval Crown of Aragon). Some basic elements of his norms are there just to ensure that, graphically, varieties from North and South of the river Ebro be compatible. We can give here only two examples:
Several facts (for instance that secessionist write mainly in Spanish) lead us deduce that they are not really interested in normalizing the “Valencian language”; they would like to preserve, for its own sake, their local culture, including their dialect and sociolect, using Castilian for the large majority of tasks a modern official language has to accomplish. Their ideal is not to introduce a “Valencian language” as the equivalent of standard Spanish, even less as a substitute. Their “Valencian” would have limited function, which makes it possible to claim that it would be easy to learn. Valencians would put their effort into learning the “perfect” standard language, Spanish, “the other language of Valencians” [“l’atra llengua dels valencians”] FONTELLES/GARCÍA/LANUZA 1987: 21). Standard “Valencian”, however, would only be “easy” for people from the city of Valencia. The irony that speakers from other regions of the Valencian Autonomous Region would have the same kind of difficulties learning standard Valencian as everybody living in a part of the medieval Crown of Aragon experiences when learning supra-regional standard Catalan, is not seen by the secessionists. Their actions lead to a further weakening of Catalan in Valencia, letting Spanish take over more and more sociolinguistic functions.
The secessionists not only accept, but openly welcome, a clearcut diglossic division of functions between their “Valencian” and Spanish. But experience shows that the willingness to learn a standardized regional language grows exponentially if the possibility, or necessity, of using it in most areas of one’s daily life increases. If this social usefulness falls below a critical level, any attempt to turn a regional language into an ‘official’ standard language will fail. As PETRUCK explains: “(As long as ‘social climbing’ remains possible using only the Spanish language), the introduction of a standardized regional language will fail. If, nonetheless, that ‘new’ language is declared by law to be the co-official equivalent of the ‘foreign’ language which so far had the most important place in society, one will discover that a large part of the population, not interested in philological debates, and convinced that decentralization and linguistic autonomy is not going to open up jobs for them in the local economic, educational or administrative system, is unwilling to make an effort to learn the orthography, grammar and high-level vocabulary of their newly standardized and normativized ‘native’ language.”(PETRUCK 1991: 36-7)  .
In the Europe of the twenty-first century, a language without a standardized written variety has few chances to survive.
In conclusion: Valencian linguistic secessionists base their arguments --if they offer any arguments at all-- on assumptions which have been rejected --if they are amenable to scientific examination—- by the international community of scholars. They do not wish to foment the use of Valencia’s regional form of Catalan, but acquiesce to its weakening by increased encroachment of Castilian in more and more spheres. At the root of the secessionist movement lies an irrational catalanophobia, disguised as valencianophilia. However, from a strictly philological point of view, the movement can not succeed (Valencian and Catalan are variants of one and the same language). Still, it is a fascinating object of research, not only for sociolinguists, but also for sociologist and politologues. Scholars from outside Spain may be able to contribute new and interesting opinions and comments about the situation in Valencia since they live at a distance from the neverending heated discussions there; Valencians would be well advised to take into consideration their contributions to the debate. Until then, we call on all linguists and philologists to repudiate the secessionists’ claims to scientific objectivity, where their arguments fail to meet the minimal formal requirements of science and are patently little more than interested manipulations of half digested linguistic facts and theories. While ideologic convictions may not be amenable to scientific corroboration, many if not all of the factual assertions of the secessionists can be proven to be wrong; the scientific community should therefore carefully monitor (and if necessary reject) any further “scientific” breakthroughs advocated by Valencian secessionist philologists and historians.
1993 © Hans-Ingo Radatz. It is forbidden any use, copy or distribution of this material. The author has expressly authorized this reproduction.
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