Aragon's Parliament renames Catalan language spoken in its territory with the acronym 'LAPAO'

The opposition has denounced “the insult to intelligence” and the “ridiculousness” of changing the official name of the Catalan language in Aragon. Catalan has been spoken in the eastern part of Aragon for almost a thousand years. In addition, the regional parliament has also changed the name of Aragonese, a minority language also spoken for many centuries in Aragon’s Pyrenean valleys. The People’s Party (PP) and a minority regional party called PAR have changed the law ruling Aragon’s official languages. Spanish is now considered the only official language in all Aragon and LAPAO (formerly Catalan) and LAPAPYP (Aragonese) are secondary languages. University experts have strongly criticised this decision which goes against all scientific criteria. From Catalonia, the situation is perceived as another attack on the Catalan language and an attempt to eradicate it from certain areas.


May 10, 2013 12:43 AM

Zaragoza (ACN).- Aragon, a Spanish Autonomous Community between Catalonia and Navarra, has changed the name of the Catalan language, spoken in the eastern part of its territory for almost a thousand years, going against all scientific criteria. According to the new law approved on Thursday by the People’s Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Government – and a minority regionalist party called PAR, Catalan is now called ‘LAPAO’ in Aragon, an acronym for ‘Lengua Aragonesa Propia de la Parte Oriental’. In English it would translate as ‘Aragon’s Own Language of the Eastern Part’, AOLEP. In addition, the regional parliament also changed the name of Aragonese, a minority language spoken for many centuries in Aragon’s Pyrenean valleys. Now, Aragonese is called LAPAPYP, an acronym for ‘Lengua Aragonesa Propia de la Areas Pirenaicas Y Prepirenaicas’ (in English: Aragon’s Own Language of the Pyrenees And Pre-Pyrenees Areas, AOLPAPA).

An “insult to intelligence”

The Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), which leads the opposition in the Autonomous Parliament, denounced “the insult to intelligence” and the “ridiculousness” of changing the official name of those languages spoken in parts of Aragon, which are the mother tongues of thousands of Aragon’s citizens. ‘Izquierda Unida’ (United Left, IU) denounced the move as political motivation and “Catalanophobia”, as well as an attempt “to eradicate” Catalan and Aragonese from Aragon. The ‘Chunta Aragonesista’ (a left-wing regional party defending the Aragonese language) was also very vocal against the decision. The opposition denounced the new law as going against the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages – signed by Spain – and against Article 3 of the Spanish Constitution, which clearly asks for the protection of language heritage and states that the languages which are not Spanish “will be official in their respective Autonomous Communities”. The opposition criticised the fact that with the new law Spanish is considered to be the only official language in all Aragon while the others are clearly considered secondary. With the new law, classes of LAPAO and LAPAPYP will only be voluntary school subjects (not compulsory) in the areas where they are spoken. In the rest of Aragon they will not be even offered.

LAPAO and LAPAPYP have been created “to avoid impositions” from Catalonia

The PP justified the introduction of the new law because they want “to avoid impositions” referring to the Catalan Language Academy, based in Barcelona. The new law, which according to the PP wants to avoid “the overspending of money”, foresees the creation of an Aragon Language Academy. As the PP MP Maria José Ferrando stated before the regional parliament, they also want “to stop the expansionist will of the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC)”. According to the PAR MP Maria Herrero, the new law “is good for Aragon” and “does not go against anybody, neither against Catalan, nor Valencian, nor Majorcan”.

The PP has already changed the name of Catalan in Valencia and has been trying to do it in the Balearic Islands

Some twenty years ago, the People’s Party (PP) also changed the name of the Catalan language spoken in Valencia and now it is officially called Valencian. Firstly, the PP also managed to modify the Autonomous Community’s official name from the traditional ‘Valencian Country’ into ‘Valencian Community’, and later it changed the language name with the support of regionalist forces. This goes against all the historical and philological criteria, as all the university departments – even those from the Valencian Country – have emphasised on many occasions. In fact, the PP created the Valencian Language Academy and as one of its first public reports it stated that Valencian was a dialect of Catalan and emphasised the unity of the Catalan language. The PP then tried to change the entire composition of the recently created Academy as it disagreed with the report. Furthermore, the PP also tried to change the name of Catalan in the Balearic Islands, calling it the Majorcan language. As in the Valencian or Aragonese cases, Majorcan is another dialect of Catalan, as all scientific experts agree. Catalan is spoken in Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza, Formentera, the Valencia Country, the eastern part of Aragon, the French Roussillon and in the Sardinia’s Alghero, as well as in Catalonia.

Outrage and humour in Catalonia

In Catalonia, the LAPAO issue has been received with outrage but also with humour. Many Catalans, and also citizens from Aragon who speak Catalan, have sent Twitter messages joking that now they will add another spoken language to their CVs. However, many experts are warning about the irresponsibility of playing with minority languages and language rights. In addition, they say that the new law puts Catalan and Aragonese at risk and it could lead to their disappearance from the parts of Aragon where they have been spoken for almost a thousand years. In addition, it creates a problem for Aragon citizens who have Catalan and Aragonese as their mother tongues, since it undermines their native language and could create recognition problems beyond Aragon. The Catalan Minister for Culture, Ferran Mascarell, stated that the new law shows “the obsession” of Spanish nationalism in “wanting to prevent Catalan from existing”. According to Mascarell, Spanish nationalism wants Catalan “to disappear off the map”.