Dear Sir,

ONE rarely hears fellow expatriates supporting the status of Catalan in the local community, so I was glad to read your editorial comment ‘Speaking the language' (yesterday's Bulletin). Earlier this month you published a brief item under the heading ‘Last hope for rare language' (January 19) about an 82-year-old woman who is believed to be the last speaker of the Dura language in Nepal.

Just over 200 years ago, a language died in the British Isles. Cornish was a Celtic language related to Welsh and it was spoken widely in Cornwall until the Middle Ages. I understand that Scottish Gaelic is in danger of suffering a similar fate. Contrast this with the situation in Wales where the Welsh language is officially protected by local and national governments.

It has been estimated that there are about 6'000 languages in the world, but approximately every two weeks a language dies somewhere in the middle of Africa or on the Indian subcontinent or on some island in south east Asia. Surely no one wants a language to die. We don't want rare plants or animals like the bear and the lynx in Spain, to become extinct so we shouldn't allow languages to become extinct as Cornish became and as Scottish Gaelic is in danger of becoming.

Until about a hundred years ago, Welsh was forbidden in schools, courts of law and many places of work and more recently Franco tried to eliminate Catalan, as well as the Basque and Galician languages. Today we can speak whatever language we choose but because of the inexorable advance of Spanish and English, minority languages are in danger. All right-minded people should support the Welsh, the Scots and the Catalan speaking people in their efforts to preserve and popularise their languages, before it is too late. Yours faithfully, George Tunnell Calvia

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