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The dark destiny of Valencian language if Blaverist succeed: The linguistic example from Graus

Blaverists generally defend their regionalist "Valencianism" as much as they defend the Spanish (i.e. Castilian) condition of the Valencian Country. In a similar way, they claim as typical Valencian words not only some words which are typical Valencian (such as "eixe" or "este", wich are admitted in standard Catalan, but they also consider as Valencian some words that have a clear Castilian origin: otony, sapo, articul, and so on.

Therefore this article has been written in order to prove to Blaverists and Valencians in general how dangerous it can be to defend some words and linguistic forms that are not purely Valencian, just like the Blaverists do, but expressions taken from Spanish. And for this aim we explain the case of the language spoken in Graus (Eastern Aragon). In that area an old Catalan dialect owing to Castilization has been transformed in a mixture of the two languages (Catalan and Spanish).

The dialect from Graus (Eastern Aragon)

Mapa linguistic Arago
In green (D) the are where Aragonese language is spoken is highlighted. In orange (B) the area where Catalan language is spoken is highlighted. (A) represents the transition language of Benasque, with a heavy Spanish influence. In blue light (C) the area where the dialect which is spoken in Graus is highlighted.

Graus and its region are placed inside the Ribagorça region, just in the middle of the Pyrenees. The fact that could be considered as the main cultural feature of the Graus area is the fact that, while most of the Ribagorça speaks Catalan, the Graus area speaks a variety that most of the people consider that is Aragonese language. Nevertheless, it is wrong, since three centuries ago this region spoke Catalan, but due to the continous contact with the Spanish language from the Somontano area and Barbastro, that old dialect from Ribagorza has become a kind of pidgin or patois, a mixture of Spanish and Catalan.

Toponymic proofs:

In this region there are places that are called Los Ponts, Coma de Sant Adrià, Los Hortals, Tozal del Baixant, Los Castellasos, Los Pontons, San Nicolau, Coroneta Llucia, La Lloseta, Llert, Bacamorta, El Clot, Aigüeta de Viu, Collado de Collubert, Los Camps, Santa Creu, Puicremat, Capella, Tosal del Conde, La Vall, Collet, Creu Sorribas, Boira, Gorga, Graus, Fontova, and so on. These names have no relation with the Aragonese language.

Linguistic proofs:

The dialect from Graus, which as already mentioned is a mixture of Castilian and Catalan, uses diphthongation in general, but it is also true that it still has archaisms without diphthongation such as "coba", "roda", "dent", etc. Words with final -E and -O are still eliminated in a residual form: font, vall, cap, ordi (but all plurals with -E and -O are without vowel, which would show that these vowels are not the original ones: mano/mans). As Catalan does, initial L- is palatalized as in "lluna"; Latin ND > n is reduced, which neither Spanish nor Aragonese does (ANDARE > anà); the interior or final Latin groups BY, DY, GY, I that make the sound of jota in Spanish or the sound of ge in Catalan, are pronounced as a "y" in all the Ribagorzan and Pallaresan languages (RUBEUM > roy); the dialect from Graus also follows the Ribagorzan dialect in the loss of final -R (caminà, fé, etc. ), or in the formation with -AS of feminine plurals (casas, cosas, etc.). In the whole of the Franja de Ponent region (Eastern part of Aragon where Catalan is spoken) there is a high profusion of Castilianisms, which reach up to 20% of the lexicon in areas as Catalan-speaking as Benabarri, in Graus in any case Castilianisms are already about two thirds (hígado, vaso, leche, noche, mucho, jefe, etc.). In fact, the level of Castilianization is so high that Spanish-Catalan hybrids have been created, such as: pllaza, reí, habllá, lloco (which also happens in the apitxat dialect of the Valencian Country: otony, desenroll, and so on). At present, the whole Graus dialect is undergoing a process of strong Castilianization, in which words of Catalan origin are systematically replaced by Castilian words. In conclusion, we can affirm that these features are common to the Ribagorzan Catalan dialect or to Castilian, but that the dialect from Graus does not have any Aragonese-type phonetic characteristics of its own. This would confirm that the dialect from Graus is not linked to Aragonese (since if it were a Castilianized Aragonese speech, there would be at least phonetic residues exclusive of Aragonese, which does not happen).

Other proofs:

A. Navarro found in Graus the "Llibre d'Estatuts de la Cofradia de Sant Nicolau" (Book of Statutes of the Brotherhood of Saint Nicholas). The book was written in 1516, and it begins in pure Catalan language, which becomes little by little castilianized until it reaches the present dialect from Graus. Centuries later, Joaquín Costa, who was an important Aragonese thinker and political at the end of the XIXth century and the beginning of the XXth century, and lived in Graus during some years, wrote: "This village [Graus] belonged to Catalonia for some years, just like the entire county of Ribagorça. Even in the XVIth century, the language here was Catalan. From that language a dialect has remained, half Aragonese and half Catalan, which you will probably have heard that speak the boys that are playing in the street. Mi surname is totally Catalan."

Examples of Ribagorzan Catalan, dialect from Graus and Aragonese language

Examples of Ribagorzan Catalan in Tamarit de la Llitera:

"A la cunya de la sinya Roseta creme un foc abundant i espavilat, fa calor i una mica de fum. Lo calder penge dels cremalls i de la porta del rebost eixís una bona ulor de codonys. Però lo més importan é la ventana que done a la pllaceta agon apuialen canyissos vells, fustas, llenya, arnalls i palla; ja n'hi ha [t]gent i molts [t]xicarrons que no tenen fred, encara que no s'haigue encés." ["La Foguera de Sant Anton", in Joaquim de Carpi's "El Dialecto de Tamarite de Litera", 1981]

Example of the dialect from Graus in Fonz [Fonts]:

With bold we highlight the Catalan rests of the original language, which are slowly disappearing. With italics we highlight the hybrids between Catalan and Spanish language (llugar, fecho con fet+hecho, llunes, ben with bé+bién, beigo with veic+veo, lluego, and so on).

"La nuestra llengua, la que aquí charram, é mui maja y ben antigua. Yo la ba aprender en casa mía, de chicó cuan encara bibiban de contino en Fonz. Recordo las charradas que se feban, y se fan, mi mare y mi yaya entre ellas y tamé con otras chens del llugar. [...] Otra muller se ba quedar sorprendida de que estudiasem ixo en la escuela, ya que me ba asegurar que antes los maestros pegaban per charrar ribagorzano en la escuela. [...] El llunes en cllase le ba presentar al profe de llengua española el treballo que abeba fecho, y me ba dir que estaba mui ben, pero que no me’l podeba ebaluar perque ixo de la fabla no baleba pa nota, que sólo mos lo ba dir como simple curiosidá. Ya bes, pa una begada que treballaba con interés, a la fin no me ba serbir pa res. [...] Sí que é berdá que han pasau años, pero yo beigo que tot está igual que antes, como fa bente años, nuestra llengua sigue sin tenir un reconozimiento ofizial, y beigo que no el tendrá mai. Si no fem res lluego la berem morir, no creigo que pase més allá de la mía chenerazión. De chobens como yo, ¿cuántos charram en nuestra llengua bernacula? Creigo que entender-la, toz; pero charrar-la no guaires. [...] Sí, pero por lo que pareze el ribagorzano no é uno e indibisible, tampoco no tiene una unidá llingüistica, n’hai chen que dize charrar alto-ribagorzano u patués, y que nusatros charram baixo-ribagorzano. ¿Cuála é la diferenzia? N’hai algunas, ixo sí. Ba conozer fa un tiempo a una muller de Castilló de Sos, me feba gozo sentir-la charrar (u “ragonar” diba ella), y tampoco no charraba tan diferente como en Fonz, sonaba un poquet més pareziu al catalán, pero si febas orellas l’entendebas tot. [...] Qué ben que charrem baixo-ribagorzano per t*oda esta redolada, que uno de Fonz se’n pueda ir enta Graus y que astí charren igual que nusatros. Ixo penso yo, pero tamé n’hai chen que pensa y dize que no, que lo que charram en Fonz é diferente de lo que charran en Estadilla." [web, Rubén Fernández Gracia]

Example of Aragonese language from the Chistau/Xistau (Plan) Valley:

"Un hombre nomás teneba dos fillos. El más choben le va dezire a su pai: «Ya yé hora que siga el mio propio duenyo y que tienga dinés; cal que pueda d'ime y viyere mundo. Parta es suyos biens y deme lo que me toque». «Ai, fillo mio», va dezire el pai, «como quieras, yés un dolén y seràs castigau». I dispués va ubrire un caixón, va partire es suyos biens y ne va fere dos partes. Uns diyas dimpués, el dolén s'en va d'ire del lugare muito contento y sin dezire adiós a nengun. Va cruzare muitas tierras yermas, muitas selvas y muitos rios, y va plegare a una gran ciudá anque se va gastare toz es dinés. Bels meses dimpués, va tenere que vendere es suyos vestius a una mullere viella y se va alogare como mozo: el von emviare ta's campos ta guardare ye es burros y es güeys. Alavez va estare muito esgraziau. Ya no va tenere cama ta dormí per la nuei, ni fuego ta calentase quan teneba frio. A vezes teneba tanta fambre que hasta s'abrí comiu ixas fuellas de col y ixa fruta podrida que comen es latons; pero nengun le daba cosa." [with adapted ortography]

A little of history

But how have we arrived to this point? Let's review a bit the history of this small area. According to toponymy, before the Romans arrived, people that spoke Basque language lived here. When the Visigoths arrived, they began to speak Latin, which evolved in this part to a kind of Mozarabic language from the Pyrenees. In Pallars and Ribagorça there are still topnymyc remnants such as in the Llessui valley, 15 km. far from Sort, where we can find: El Quaso, Canals de Rialbo, Lo Pico, La Aurilla, Montalto, Campo Llongo, or in the Vall Fosca, where we can find: Estany Castieso, E. Gento, E. Neriolo, Sallente, Montorroio, Creu de Calvo, Pales de Cubiesso, and so on.

The Moslem invasion sank the Visigothic kingdom, turning the Pyrenean valleys into small autarchic regions until, in the case of Pallars and Ribagorça, the Counts of Tolosa made them vassals in 801. It will therefore be practically during the whole of the 9th century that Ribagorza and Pallars will be ruled by counts under the tutelage of Toulouse, but by the 10th century, Ribagorza will be a de facto independent county ruled by native counts of Catalan culture. The Catalanization of the two counties was surely a logical consequence of the existence of a border in the south with the Arab neighbors, and the formidable barrier of the Pyrenees to the north, which by distance made La Seu d'Urgell the main center of economic and cultural attraction of the two counties. That independent Ribagorça was conquered by the Navarrese king Sancho III taking advantage of some family fights among the Ribagorzan counts in 1025, but by dynastic succession it passed to the king of Aragon in 1043. On the other hand, as the Crown of Aragon was born in 1137, when the kingdom of Aragon and the county of Barcelona were united, Ribagorça was again linked to counts of Catalan culture. In fact James I included Ribagorça within Catalonia (from Salses to the Cinca river), but his grandson James II modified that decision due to Aragonese pressures, ceding the county to Aragon, but keeping the Usatges de Barcelona and the Costums de Catalunya as laws. In any case, although officially the county belonged to Aragon, the region was run by counts of Catalan culture and linked to the Royal House of the Crown of Aragon until the extinction of the county at the end of the 16th century. Also until then, ecclesiastically, Ribagorza was part of Catalan dioceses. But it was precisely at the end of that century when the area of Graus was transferred to the diocese of Barbastro, and it was also during that time when the Spanish king suppressed the county because of the revolts that had been promoted by the last count, thus passing the Ribagorça under direct rule of the crown.

In 1642 the French-Catalan troops were housed in Benavarre, and in exchange the Ribagorça passed to Catalonia, but as the war was not won, neither was the Ribagorça. Later, in the War of Succession, Ribagorça sided with Catalonia on the Austrian side, while Castile supported the absolutist Philip V. In 1833 the centralist state definitely attached Ribagorza to the new province of Huesca, and slowly and unwittingly completed the Spanishization of the Ribagorzan people (as a way of being Spanish out of respect for borders and because of fear of Catalan secessionism) through schooling and militarization of youth.

A dark future?

Thus at this point we can ask ourselves: What would the future of Valencian language be if Blaverists could succeed? Do we want this kind of future for Valencian? Do we desire its extinction within two or three centuries? If nothing is done, or if Valencian becomes under Blaverist influence will Valencian be in the same situation as the language from Graus, which is nowadays a mixture of Spanish and Catalan, as we have seen? Valencians are the only ones that can save Valencian language, but for the people from Graus it is already too late.

Bibliography

  • ALEGRE, Montserrat: Dialectologia Catalana (Ed. Teide, 1991).
  • NAVARRO, Antoni: El Català a-n el Ribagorça; al Primer Congrés Internacional de la Llengua Catalana (Universitat de Barcelona, 1906-1908).
  • Article of R. Fernández

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