Basque as a threat, Spanish as a victim: the delegitimisation of linguistic rights through language making – Karolin Breda and Philipp Krämer – RLD blog
Delegitimising positions towards regional languages in Spain have long been part of discourses on bilingualism and linguistic rights. Especially when laws are passed in the autonomous regions that are intended to preserve and promote language rights on the part of the minority, such positions usually become particularly visible in political debates and public media.
It is not surprising, then, that the decree for the normalisation of the use of both co-official languages in Basque institutions (179/2019 Dekretua) introduced in November 2019, aiming to guarantee the linguistic rights in the local administration, received extensive media coverage on a regional and Spain-wide level, and sparked vivid public debates about its consequences not only for the use of Basque but also for that of Castilian in the region. There were also indignant reactions from right-wing parties and organisations which perceive it as a serious threat to the hegemonic position of Castilian. Defendants of the latter often resort to arguments based on a rhetoric of “reverse discrimination” (DePalma/Teasley 2013, p.113), which goes hand in hand with a conception of language rights as individual rights that are being threatened as soon as any measures in favor of the minority language require a certain degree of accommodation from monolingual speakers of the majority language. A very striking example are the efforts of NGOs such as Hablamos Español (“We speak Spanish”), which invoke the right conferred by the constitution to lead a fully monolingual life in Spanish even in the autonomous regions.