Catalonia is trying to pass some half-assed measure to prevent people from switching from catalán to Spanish when speaking to immigrants. The campaign has some pouty slogan that makes me wish for catalán to die out as fast as possible.
What always bugs me about the efforts to goad immigrants into minority languages is that all the measures are punitive and seem aimed at making immigrants hate the language and its speakers. Nobody ever tries to make their culture more attractive or their community more welcoming so that immigrants would be eager to speak their language.
In Quebec, for instance, there’s a constant fight to get non-Muslim immigrants* to speak French. But the French-speaking community is so closed, so utterly impenetrable, and so actively hostile towards anybody not of the community that, of course, immigrants adopt English instead. English-speakers aren’t going to snub you and tell you that you aren’t supposed to have opinions even after 20 years living in the country (true story).
In Ukraine, too, the efforts to make the culture more attractive and more known are currently at an ebb. Ukrainians are notoriously bad at making their achievements known to the world.
In my small and unpopular parish**, there is always somebody standing at the door to welcome newcomers and to make them feel comfortable and wanted. As a result, we had 6 converts last year and two more this year. But if instead of welcoming people, we entered into pacts to be as demanding as possible with newcomers (like the Catalonians are trying to do), people wouldn’t stay.
Make your culture attractive, and people will want to join. The only way to learn to speak a language is through love. And you can’t mandate love. Quit ordering people to like you and show them why they could. And if you are a small, unpopular, largely unknown culture, do what my priest says and “always be humbly grateful for any interest.”
* Muslim immigrants already do. That’s why they have much easier entrance to Quebec.
** Orthodoxy is hard. The most popular church in the area is a clappy-happy Baptist affair with rock music, loud yelling, and zero expectations. And we are about to start a 40-day-long Great Lent.