The Balearics would normally be one of the hottest spots for tourists seeking sun and beaches. But beyond this image, the four islands have a Catalan culture and tradition that often is not taken into consideration by the visitors. A poll that has just been released shows that 48'7 percent of the population does not know how to write in Catalan. Another 27'7 percent has an “acceptable” level in writing and only 23'6 percent write it “correctly”. The figures related to the oral use of the language are more optimistic. Up to 59'9 percent argue that they speak it correctly, compared with a 23'3 percent which say they can't speak it. Another 16'8 percent speak the language, although not fluently. As for comprehension, the poll shows that up to 76'2 percent of the population can understand Catalan “correctly”, another 16'8 percent can understand much of it, and 7'1 percent understand “ nothing”. These figures are the result of a deep study carried out by the Balearic government. One of the conclusions that worries the linguistic authorities of the islands is the fact that among young people, the Catalan language is widely seen as a “cult issue” and not as a “popular issue”. This could lead to a situation that would reduce its use to cultural places such as schools, universities or administration, but keeping it away from social life, such as cinemas or musical events. As an example of this, one of the most popular singers from Majorca , Tomeu Penya, recently announced that his next record will be in Spanish, whereas until now he only used Catalan for his country-style songs. He has backed his decision arguing that he just wants to “make my market bigger”, and added that his following record will again be in Catalan. However, the poll confirms that the Catalan language situation is improving, especially among young people who have attended Catalan shools. As a result, only 37'7 percent of people under 30 cannot write in Catalan, which is more than 10 percent under the general level. The situation is also diverse when comparing the different islands. In Minorca, the situation is better than in the other two main islands: 73 percent of the population in Minorca speak Catalan “fluently”. Only 51 percent claim this in Ibiza, and 54 percent in Palma.


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