The carnival parade in Palma always has its fair share of humour. One of the floats was taking aim at the need to speak Catalan in the health service. “We want the best doctors, not linguists,” “healthcare is the priority not language,” was their war cry. Now, obviously they have a point and it appears that the Balearic government has dropped the requirement of speaking Catalan as a necessity to work in the health service. But I was interested to see and hear that the anti-language float drew a mixed reception from the crowd. Catalan is a big issue in Majorca and as a previous Balearic government saw to their cost with their three language learning system in local schools, it can cost you dearly. I would say that the island is effectively split over Catalan. People who have moved from the mainland are obviously some of the biggest critics while the “home grown” population are some of its biggest supporters. Now, yes it is very important that we have the best doctors but at the same time some people prefer to be spoken to in their own language. I would say that the best way forward is to just sit on the fence. Catalan shouldn´t be a requisite to work in the health service staff but at the same time people who do speak it will have a greater edge when applying for a job. It is easy to criticise Catalan and most of the arguments made against it are very valid. But at the end of the day it does form part of the heritage of this island and many will defend it to the end.
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