I READ with interest over the weekend our interview with Cathy Sweeney who heads up the local department responsible for promoting Catalan in the Balearics. My view on the Catalan language is as follows; Catalan is part of the culture of these islands and should be respected and the local authorities are quite rightly trying to promote its use. But at the same time, we mustn´t forget that the other official language here is Castillan Spanish. I understand both points of views; that Catalan is not spoken widely and therefore more emphasis should be placed on Castillan but at the same let us not forget that Catelan is also part of the identity and general make-up of these islands. It is a difficult situation. Finding the balance will not be easy. It is the job of the local authorities to ensure that local traditionals and the local language is not lost, especially as 20 percent of the population was born outside the Balearics. I also feel that it needs some give-and-take from both sides. I have listened to many rows between Majorcans and mainlanders over Catalan; they both have a point. Some young Majorcans believe that English should be studied instead of Spanish; others believe that all three languages (English, Spanish and Catalan) should be normal in local classrooms. But Cathy Sweeney does have a point when she says that speaking Catalan probably opens more doors in the Balearics. Yes, it does. Speaking Spanish if you are a non-Spaniard does also. I know many expatriates who don´t speak Spanish or Catalan and they have lived here for many years. My advice; learn some Spanish and Catalan and hedge your bets.
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