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Modern Languages and LinguisticsPart of Humanities

Catalan and Spanish. Literature and bilingualism in Catalonia.

Published: 10 December 2012
Carles Casajuana Palet

Leading Catalan writer and diplomat Señor Don Carles Casajuana spoke about his work and his experience of bilingualism at the annual Perez de Ayala lecture at the University of Southampton.

He has published nine novels and an essay on the Catalan writer Josep Pla and contributes regularly to the Spanish newspaper El País. He was Spanish Ambassador to the UK from 2008-2012 and has also served in Bolivia, the Philippines, the USA, Malaysia and Belgium.

Students and staff heard Señor Don Carles Casajuana describe the development of bilingual education, which results in children gaining a good command of both languages by the age of 16. However, increasing levels of immigration has reduced the proportion of people who use Catalan; concerns have been raised for the survival of the language. His latest book The Last Man Who Spoke Catalan won the 2009 Ramon Llull award. This novel of ideas - what the French call ‘un roman à thèse’- that does not take itself too seriously, addresses the question of bilingualism and the situation of Catalan writers, both in Catalan and in Spanish.

His lecture was particularly topical as voters in Catalonia gave a majority to separatist parties at elections in November 2012. A referendum on independence could be held within the next four years.

The Perez de Ayala lecture series was established in 1984 and is sponsored by the Spanish Embassy. It is held in alternative years at the Universities of Southampton and Portsmouth. Señor Don Carles Casajuana’s talk was introduced by Professor Clare Mar-Molinero from Modern Languages at the University of Southampton.

To listen to an interview with Carles, click on the link to the right of this page.

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