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PEN International’s Girona Manifesto defends linguistic rights and diversity

PEN International has presented at the Catalan Government’s Palace in Barcelona the Girona Manifesto on Linguistic Rights. Catalonia’s President regretted that the Catalan language still “suffers from the intolerance or belligerence of some bodies of the [Spanish] State”. The manifesto, which had its origins in the World Conference on Linguistic Rights held in Girona in 1996, aims to defend linguistic diversity throughout the world. The Manifesto has already been approved by the PEN General Assembly. The 10 point document has already been translated into 18 languages.

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06 June 2012 01:02 AM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- PEN International presented the Girona Manifesto on Linguistic Rights on Tuesday evening at the Generalitat Palace in Barcelona, which is the seat of the Catalan Government. The manifesto, which had its origins in the World Conference on Linguistic Rights held in Girona in 1996, aims to defend linguistic diversity throughout the world. It is organised in 10 points and has already been translated into 18 languages. The Girona Manifesto has been developed by PEN International\u2019s Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee, which is chaired by the Catalan Josep Maria Terricabras. Terricabras stated in the document\u2019s presentation that the Manifesto\u2019s objective is \u201Cto help citizens and all sorts of organisations to acknowledge the great importance of linguistic diversity and to participate in its defence\u201D. Besides, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, regretted that after more than 30 years simce the restoration of democracy in  Spain, the Catalan language still \u201Csuffers from the lack of understanding, the intolerance or the belligerence of some bodies of the [Spanish] State\u201D, which treat Catalan as \u201Can uncomfortable thing\u201D. In addition, the Catalan President added that the Manifesto is \u201Ca tribute to freedom, to dignity, and to all the people that for many years and centuries have fought [\u2026] to preserve their identity, which is their language\u201D. The Manifesto was also presented by the Chairman of  PEN International, John Ralston Saul, and the Chairman of the Catalan PEN, Carme Arenas. In addition, the University of Tübingen Professor, Johannes Kabaek, offered a conference entitled \u2018Language and Freedom\u2019.


The Girona Manifesto has already been approved by the PEN General Assembly, which met in the framework of its 77th Annual Congress, held last September in Belgrade. The Girona Manifesto has been developed by PEN International\u2019s Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee. PEN members and PEN Centres have translated the manifesto into 18 languages, but the organisation aims to continue the translation work and spread the manifesto worldwide.

PEN International, which is an association of writers with members across the planet, works to promote cultural cooperation and exchanges. PEN\u2019s Girona manifesto states that linguistic diversity is part of the heritage of an area, which must be valued and protected. The Manifesto declares that respect for all languages and cultures is fundamental in the process to build and keep peace and dialogue throughout the world. In addition, it points out that the different languages and ways of speaking are not only communication means, but the environment in which humans grow up and cultures are being built. The document explains that each person learns to speak within a community that offers him or her, beside his or her own life, a language, a culture and an identity.

According to the Girona Manifesto, each linguistic community has the right to use its language as the official language in its own territory. Furthermore, school has to contribute to give recognition to the language spoken by the community. The document adds that the knowledge of several languages by individual citizens is a desirable objective because it fosters sympathy and being intellectually open-minded, as well as it contributes to a deeper knowledge of one\u2019s own language. Text translations are a very important element. Communication media are privileged speakers in order to show and practice linguistic diversity, and to give it recognition with competence and rigour. In addition, the document states that the right to use and having one\u2019s own language protected should be recognised by the United Nations as a fundamental right. The Manifesto is in an updated version of the Universal Declaration on Linguistic Rights.

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  • The presentation in the Generalitat Palace of the Girona Manifesto (by P. Francesch)

  • The presentation in the Generalitat Palace of the Girona Manifesto (by P. Francesch)