Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Some birthday thoughts

I like the Instituto Cervantes. We have a branch (is that the right word or does it make the Instituto sound too much like a bank?) in Manchester. A number of my friends have done or are, indeed, still doing Spanish courses there and I have been to some of the cultural events organised by the Instituto. Years ago I went there to hear one of my favourite Spanish women writers, Ana María Matute speak about her work. Great stuff! Will their status, I wonder, be affected by Brexit? Who knows? Well, none of us because we still don't know what Brexit is really going to be like.

Now, the Instituto has produced a new study based on statistics they have compiled about Spanish speakers around the world. According to this study, there are now more Spanish speakers in the USA than in Spain itself, where we know that some people regard themselves as Catalán/Gallego/Basque speakers first and Castilian speakers second. (But, of course, we should not make the mistake of forgetting that those minority languages are also Spanish.) The United States is now the world’s second largest Spanish-speaking country. Mexixo is the largest. Anyway, there are 41 million native Spanish speakers in the USA and a further 11.6 million who are bilingual: the children of Spanish speaking immigrants.

Some of their statistics come from the US Census Office itself so they should be reliable. Unless, that is, the Census Office deals in Alternative Facts! The US Census Office estimates that by 2050 one third of their citizens will have Spanish as their mother tongue. Most of the Spanish speakers are, as you might expect, in the former Spanish colonies in the south and southwest of the USA. 47% of people in New Mexico are Spanish speakers, as are 38% of Texans and Arizonans. 18% of New Yorkers speak Spanish - I wonder what percentage of Londoners and Mancunians do so. Surprisingly 6% of Alaskans are Spanish speakers. Interesting stuff!

I thought for a long time that the USA would have a hispanic president before a black one (and certainly before an orange one) but perhaps I have hust seen too much of The West Wing!

Maybe, however, it's time to think about making Spanish an official language of the USA. I think I know of someone who won't like that idea. Indeed, I have read is morning that he plans to start work on THAT WALL today! Trump tweeted last night: "Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow. Among many other things, we will build the wall!" Is this also part of his plan to make sure there is work for every US citizen. If he kept the construction work as little mechanised as possible, then there could be manual work for ages and ages. It is, after all, quite a long border!

Okay, that's enough of that. Today is my birthday. I have a fine card selected by my three year old granddaughter. According to my son she said, "Grandma will like that one. It's Hello Kitty and it's pink!" The wonderful logic of children.

The sun is shining and I am about to go out to lunch with an old friend.

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