Language focus | 04.02.2011

Tower of Babel

The upper house of the Spanish parliament has ratified the use Castilian Spanish, Basque, Catalan, Galician and Valencian, in its chambers. This means that senators may use any of these languages during speeches and debates.

“The same parliamentarians who talk to each other in the corridors in a language that they all share need interpreters to understand one another in the chamber,” El Mundo Editorial.

Previously, the language used in the senate was Castilian Spanish, which is spoken fluently by all the senators.

However, in the main chamber a team of 25 interpreters will now be used daily to render each of these newly allowed languages into Spanish.

This move has been criticised by many as a waste of money during a time of sweeping spending cuts. The cost of these new interpreters is around €12,000 (£10,000) a day.

On the other hand, many senators are in favor of this change saying that as regional representatives, it is imperative they are able to speak in the language of the people they represent while in the governing chamber. Yet it remains to be seen if this is a positive move for Spain’s many spoken languages, or if it will turn the senate into a Tower of Babel.


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