Thousands demand "total change" in Galicia's language policy

Queremos Galego platform says Galicia undergoing severe language shift from own language to Spanish, especially among young people · 53% of those aged 65 and older always speak in Galician, figure down to 13% among 15-year-olds and younger

Thousands (25,000 according to organizers and 10,000 according to the municipality) marched yesterday in the capital of Galicia, Santiago, to demand a "total change" from the Galician government in its language policy. The goal, according to protesters, should be to stop the decline in the use of the Galician language.

Called by the Queremos Galego group (We Want Galician), the demonstration was held under the motto "Polas fillas dos nosos fillos" ("For our son's daughters"), which was also the title of the statement that was read at the end of the march. Two main ideas were contained in the text: one, that policies put forward by the Galician government are contributing to the decline of the language; and two, that Galician is receding because of a weak transmission from parents to children.

This builds up on a December 2014 report by the Galician Institute of Statistics (IGE). According to it, younger age groups are increasingly using Spanish as their main language, as the chart below shows:

Galician language evolution

The Queremos Galego statement says these data "reflect the reality," as "fewer and fewer people speak Galician." Queremos Galego argues that "the largest decline of Galician speakers matches the most aggressive and harmful five-year period against the normalization of our language." The statement further says that Galician "does not enjoy real official status" and argues that the Galician government itself is to blame for attacks against the language.

The stament also stresses that "tools for the new generations must be provided" in order to keep Galician alive. Queremos Galego complains that "no fashionable cartoons are broadcasted in Galician through the Galician public TV," "games, films and youth magazines in our language are not available for your people" and "many [children] are prevented from [getting] their schooling through the medium of Galician."

(Picture: yesterday's demonstration in Santiago / image by Eurolang.)