Meet Inaciu Galán, Asturian language activist

Photo by Inaciu Galán and used with permission.

As part of our ongoing series highlighting the work of activists promoting European minority and regional languages in digital spaces, we would like to feature Inaciu Galán (@inaciugalan) working to promote the Asturian language from Asturias, located in northwest Spain. According to Ethnologue, this endangered language is spoken by approximately 100,000 native speakers, another 250,000 second language speakers.

Rising Voices (RV): Tell us about yourself and your language-related work.

Inaciu Galán (IG): I am a journalist and teacher and I have taken my activism in favor of the Asturian language and the rights of its speakers to all areas of my life. I have worked as an editor, radio and television presenter, disseminator of the Asturian language in networks, I have published research on the history of Asturian.

In 2011, together with Víctor Suárez, I helped to launch the Iniciativa pol Asturianu Foundation, an NGO that works to achieve the recognition of the rights of Asturian speakers in all the territories where it is a traditional language. On May 6th – Asturian Literature Day, I will be appointed as a member of the Academy of Asturian Language.

RV: What is the current state of your language both online and offline?

IG: Our language has a major problem of the breakdown of generational transmission and a lack of recognition of rights, but it has a very active community behind it that has been working hard for half a century to achieve the survival of the language. The presence in social networks, but also in schools, etc. is very wide and varied.

RV: What are your motivations to see your language present in digital spaces?

IG: I wish I didn't have to be an activist, but I had to because of the situation of my language. The digital sphere makes it possible to reach a lot of people in a simple way and to do so with the younger generations in mind. That is why, among the initiatives I started, there is PlayPresta, a space to create and disseminate spaces for YouTubers and podcasters in Asturian.

RV: Describe some of the challenges that prevent your language from being fully used online.

IG: The lack of recognition of the language means that it is not the vehicular language of the main social networks. Although thanks to the voluntary work of many people, we have many free software tools in Asturian, there is still a long way to go. The framework conditions users of a minority language in a diglossic situation.

RV: What concrete steps do you think could be taken to encourage young people to start learning your language or continue using it?

IG: For almost forty years Asturian has been in schools, but in a voluntary and very precarious way, with only a few hours of instruction, centers where it is difficult to receive the subject and a very unstable situation for the teachers who teach it. If we were able to generalize the subject and give it a greater timetable, we would have many opportunities. But it is not enough, we need to create attractive content for young people, in the form of audiovisuals, music, applications, games. We need to make the language useful for future employment, loved by speakers, and fun for life.

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