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Oh for God's sake.....

Doubtless readers are aware of the Spanish government's decision to rip open the old wounds of the Franco era, but now a further front is being opened up:

"The Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH) has launched a campaign calling on the top language authority in Spain to change its definition of Francoism. The rights group said the description in the dictionary published by the Real Academia Española is weak and does not convey the full nature of the regime. The ARMH said that the current definition of Francoism as a movement “with a totalitarian tendency” is to say that power was concentrated in a few hands while ignoring the 40-year violation of human rights, including the killing of 60.000 people, the exile of 500,000 and the imprisonment of another 400,000".

I am not interested in defending Franco or going over the rights and wrongs of the period of the civil war and his rule, but what manner of idiotic world are the ARMH living in that they want to politicise dictionary entries?

Those with more than bar Spanish can play around with the Real Academia Española's online dictionary here. Andthe ARMH's site here, but note that the translation facility it offers does not work...

Doubtless I could add much to my OED definition of Stalinism, "The policies followed by Stalin in the government of the USSR, esp. centralization, totalitarianism and the pursuit of socialism". However, that is factual and does not get into value judgements.

Or indeed, the Real Academia Española definition of Comunismo:

"Doctrina formulada por Karl Marx y Friedrich Engels, teóricos socialistas alemanes del siglo XIX, y desarrollada y realizada por Lenin, revolucionario ruso de principio del siglo XX, y sus continuadores, que interpreta la historia como lucha de clases regida por el materialismo histórico o dialéctico, que conducirá, tras la dictadura del proletariado, a una sociedad sin clases ni propiedad privada de los medios de producción, de la que haya desaparecido el Estado".

Or Leninismo: "Doctrina de Lenin, quien, basándose en el marxismo, promovió y condujo la Revolución soviética".

My Spanish is not exactly extensive, but without resorting to babelfish I can tell that the first is referring to dialectical materialism, class struggle and the withering away of the state. Not much about the gulag, is there? As for Nazi, it gives this: "Perteneciente o relativo al nacionalsocialismo"




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Blogger Ed said... 12:34 pm

What I don't "get" is the national language institutes that many countries have.  



Blogger Croydonian said... 12:44 pm

They are rather bizarre, aren't they?

I just found this nugget about the Académie française: "It continues work on the ninth edition, of which the first volume (A to Enzyme) appeared in 1992, and the second volume (Éocène to Mappemonde) in 2000. In 1778, the Académie attempted to compile a "historical dictionary" of the French language; this idea, however, was later abandoned, the work never progressing past the letter A".

Apparently the Icelandic equivalent is even worse, and it attempts to find old Norse roots for everything, and 'television' is old Norse magic seeing box or somesuch. Or so I have been told.  



Blogger Ed said... 1:20 pm

I think it reinforces the impression that us Brits are not made in the same mould as our continental cousins. No government body tries to "mould" our language in that way, despite the best efforts of the IngSoc party.  



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