The upper chamber of Spain‘s parliament has caused controversy by allowing senators to debate in five of the country’s languages, with interpreters employed to turn their words into a tongue they all speak perfectly: Castilian Spanish.
Critics claim that allowing senators to speak Catalan, Galician, Valencian and the Basque language of Euskara has turned the Spanish senate into a tower of Babel. They accuse the senate of wasting public money at a time of swingeing public spending cuts.
Of course it’s a hugely political thing: one way of looking at Spain is that it’s a Castilian Empire imposed upon the regions. Indeed, that’s actually a pretty reasonable way of looking at it. And traditionally the conservatives have thought that this was just fine while the left has thought, again traditionally, that it isn’t.
But what’s more fun is that, Euskara aside, they’re really just four dialects of the same language. Certainly no further apart than Geordie and Cockney in our own dear mother tongue. At least one of them (Galician) is mutually intelligible with Portuguese as well.
Perhaps we should introduce this into our own Houses of Parliament? So that the Honourable Member for Newcastle can speak to us in his rich, native, tones (assuming that such a pocket Labour seat actually appoints a local, unlike the neighbouring Hartlepool which got Mandy) and we have a bank of translators to make him intelligible to the rest of us?
Although it would be a little cruel, I know, to appoint a translator for John Prescott. How could anyone ever work out what he was trying to say so that it could be translated?