The Office of Spanish recently created by the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, with the actor and politician Toni Cantó at the helm, emerges as a novelty in the Spanish multilingual panorama, although it has some, few, precedents in other autonomous communities.

The cradles of Castilian Spanish, La Rioja and Castilla y León -or vice versa-, have had for years institutions comparable to the brand new office of the Community of Madrid, but in general what exist are entities of different ranks promoted from the autonomous level to promote and disseminate the rest of languages, even variants not recognized as official.

The new Madrid entity seeks the promotion of the region As the European capital of Spanish, the promotion of economic opportunities in this area, collaboration with local or international entities to enhance the value of Spanish and the management of reports and meetings, among other purposes.

The promotion of Spanish

In view of these goals, the first similar precedent, albeit organically on a different plane, dates back to 1998 in La Rioja, whose Government promoted the creation of the San Millán de la Cogolla Foundation, private, non-profit and whose honorary president is the king, although the vast majority of its funding comes from the regional government and the executive presidency of its patronage corresponds to the autonomic president.

Its objectives include investigate, document and disseminate the origins of the Castilian language and the use of new technologies for the dissemination and updating of Castilian in the world.

In 2007, it was the Junta de Castilla y León that created the figure of the President’s Commissioner for the Spanish Language, with the aim of channel all initiatives, activities, programs and strategies aimed at promoting the language and promoting the region as a place to learn Spanish for foreign students.

This Commissioner has the rank of managing Director and its functions are normally assumed by the general director of Cultural Policies.

This community also created, 20 years ago, the Castilian and Leonese Institute of Language Foundation, based in Burgos, participated by the Board, public universities, capitals and councils, among other institutions, to disseminate and promote the use and knowledge of Spanish and support for the training of Spanish teachers.

Disclosure of official languages

However, apart from these, the Spanish Office of the Community of Madrid has no similar precedent in the initiative of more communities, although there are different institutions with autonomous participation in the scope of the rest of the country’s languages.

In Catalonia, this task is carried out by a general directorate, that of Language Policy, and there is a Consortium for Linguistic Normalization, created from the will of the Generalitat and of numerous town councils, regions and provincial councils to facilitate the knowledge, use and dissemination of the Catalan language in all areas.

There are also the Platform for the Language (Catalan), which is a private initiative and which operates in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and the Valencian Community, but which organically does not depend on the Catalan Government; the Institut d’Estudis Catalans, and the Institut Ramon Llull, since 2002, of which, in addition to the Generalitat, the Balearic Government, the Barcelona City Council and other Valencians are members. This year it has a budget of 10.1 million euros.

The Balearic Government also has another body to promote the use of the Catalan language and the culture of the islands, which is the Institut d’Estudis Baleàrics, and has also created a Office for the Defense of Linguistic Rights against violations of the regulations relating to Catalan.

In the Valencian Community there has been since 1998 the Valencian Academy of the Language (AVL), which is the normative institution of Valencian and is also in charge of promoting the social use of this language, for which it has produced works such as the Diccionari normatiu valencià, with more than 93,000 terms.

In Euskadi there is no public institution similar to the Madrid Spanish Office, but there is a Real Academia de la Lengua Vasca-Euskaltzaindia, founded in 1918, which is in charge of researching and formulating the grammatical laws of the Basque language, promoting its use and ensuring the rights of the language.

This century-old institution maintains a collaboration agreement with the Foral Government of Navarra to standardize and collaborate in the development, study and research of Basque, for which the Regional Executive contributes 190,000 euros.

Several of these institutions receive transfers from the State, among others from the Ministry of Science and Innovation, which this year allocates 311,380 euros to the Institut d’Estudis Catalans, the same amount to the Real Academia Galega and 220,000 euros to the Royal Academy of the Basque Language.

Other initiatives

In turn, some communities without an official language have approached the linguistic issue in different ways, such as Asturias, which has a General Directorate of Language Policy to promote the use of Asturian with a budget of about two million euros, and the Canary Islands, where the Canarian Language Academy, dependent on the regional government, to care for, investigate and disseminate the insular variety of Spanish.

With a budget this year of 100.000 eurosAmong other things, he periodically publishes the Basic Dictionary of Canarism on paper.

Andalusia, where there is no center or office like the one in Madrid, has just approved 100,000 euros to subsidize cultural actions and activities aimed at the descendants of Andalusians affected by language immersion processes, that promote the maintenance, promotion and dissemination of their cultural and linguistic roots, carried out by Andalusian communities and their federations, based abroad.

In Cantabria there is CIESE University Center, Fundación Comillas, promoted by the regional government, which offers Spanish courses and an official degree in Hispanic studies, a master’s degree and distance postgraduate studies.


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