The eastern fringe of Aragon is one of several areas, including the southern Rosellón area of France, to speak Catalan despite the language not having official recognition. Early last week the Aragonese Autonomous regional parliament voted to re-assign the Catalan language spoken in the eastern area of the region as LAPAO- 'Lengua Aragonesa Propia de la Parte Occidental'. In English this would roughly translate to 'The language belonging to the eastern part of Aragon', although TLBEPA doesn't score quite so highly on the catchy acronym chart. The bill does not stop there however, renaming the language spoken in the northern area of the region "Lengua Aragonesa Propia de las Areas Pirenaica y Preperinaica" or LAPAPYP.
The law was passed with the help of votes from the conservative Partido Popular (PP) and the Partido Aragonés (PAR). Both within Aragon and without, reaction to the new law has been damning. The opposition in Aragon, led by the Socialists called the move an 'insult to the intelligence', whereas others saw the new law as blatant 'Catalanophobia'.
Reactions on social media regarding the move were mainly of dismay, but mixed with a certain level of humour, not to mention ridicule. Many joked about adding an extra language to their CV, while the catchphrase appropriated by many Catalans in the defence of linguistic normalisation in the education system, "Keep calm and speak Catalan", was quickly modified. The risible acronyms LAPAO and LAPAPYP also gave rise to another, LAPOLLA, for the Castillian spoken in the rest of the region. (For non-Spanish speakers, the Castillian 'La Polla' translates to 'dick' or 'cock in English.')
Humour aside, there is a definite sense that legal recourse aiming to undermine the strength and unity of the Catalan language will become more frequent. Besides the Spanish Supreme Court's recent ruling that the Catalan parliaments declaration of sovereignty was unconstitutional attacks on the Catalan language by the PP governments of the Catalan speaking regions that surround Catalunya have gained momentum: the recent struggle over Catalan television station TV3 in Valencia, the Balearic provision of textbooks in 'Balearic' rather than Catalan, and now this latest confrontation in Aragon.
It seems as though while the ruling CiU and ERC coalition in Catalunya attempt to plot the uncertain path towards statehood, the PP and it's allies have chosen the Catalan language as the target for retaliatory attacks. In a country so deep in economic worry and suffering staggering unemployment, it is difficult for an outside observer not to see such attacks as cynical, not to mention a staggering waste of time and resources. By foregoing sensible dialogue and plumbing to new depths of linguistic secessionism such as in the case of LAPAO, the PP risks international ridicule whilst at the same time damaging its own position against Catalan independence.
Sources and Further reading:
http://www.catalannewsagency.com/news/politics/aragons-parliament-renames-catalan-language-spoken-its-territory-acronym-lapao (English language report of the events)
http://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20130506/54373853174/catalan-franja-denominara-lapao-aragon.html (News report in Spanish)
http://www.vilaweb.cat/noticia/4103498/20130410/bauza-passa-atacs-catala-lescola.html (Balearic Textbook Report- In Catalan)
https://twitter.com/rolo1714 (twitter user @rolo1714- inspiration for this posts title)