The Franco Period (1936-1975)

Meeting at the Galaxia publishing house where we can see, amongst others, Ramón Otero Pedrayo, Xosé María Álvarez Blázquez, Francisco Fernández del Riego, Ramón Piñeiro, Xaime Isla, Domingo García Sabell, Ricardo Carballo Calero e Fermín Penzol.

Franco’s regime meant a huge step backwards for the recovery of Galician. The language was absent from all official and public use during the dictatorship years, which meant the disappearance of almost all cultural expressions of our language. This political situation together with other social forces gradually eliminated Galician from the many private circles to which it had been relegated and Castilian became the language of the wealthy and the urban classes. Thanks to the drive of initiatives such as Editorial Galaxia, it was possible to maintain a small flame of hope for a future resurgence of the language.

Summary
  1. The “Long Night of Stone”
  2. Editorial Galaxia
  3. Castilianization of Society
  4. The Drive of Galician pride in Exile

1. The “Long Night of Stone”

The forty years of Franco’s regime were a radical break and a clear step backwards for the prestige and linguistic awareness that the Galicianists had built in the early years of the 20th century. This period of silence and repression was metaphorically called the “long night of stone” in reference to the book of poems of the same name, Longa noite de pedra, published in 1962 by Celso Emilio Ferreiro, in which he showed his absolute disagreement with the official political, cultural and linguistic policies of the time.

2. Editorial Galaxia

During this period, Galician was removed from institutional and cultural circles, as well as from written use. While it is true that during this time there was no legislation that explicitly prohibited the use of the language, the public use of Galician in formal and important contexts was interpreted as a clear defiance to the regime. However, some temporal clarifications are necessary. If the 1940s were characterized by a total silencing and repression of the public use of the language, a small resurgence could, however, be observed from 1950 onwards, thanks largely to the work of Editorial Galaxia. The appearance of associations such as O Galo and O Facho in the 1960s, along with the institutionalisation in 1963 of the 17th of May as the “Día das Letras Galegas” (Day of Galician Letters), helped to revitalize the cultural uses of the language; this linguistic invigoration was emphasized in the 1970s, coinciding with the most tolerant period of the regime, when Galician gained some presence in education and in the media.

3. Castilianization of Society

As regards family and identity are concerned, Galician retained its prominence, although Castilian gradually became established amongst the wealthier social groups and in urban areas. However, we must take into account that during these years, two-thirds of the population of Galicia lived in towns of less than 2,000 inhabitants, something that benefited the Galician language thanks to its greater level of preservation in rural areas. In any case, these years can be characterized by the gradual decline of monolingual speakers and the rise of bilingual diglossia. The progressive castilianization of the whole of society, one of the main sociolinguistic characteristics of these years, can largely be explained by urban growth: the increase in the middle classes connected to the services sector, the gradual generalization of education and the appearance of the mass media. Furthermore, factors such as the fact that prestige and social mobility were directly associated with the use of Castilian, also had a strong influence. This provoked both linguistic shifts towards Castilian and a growing feeling of self-hate amongst those who normally spoke Galician.

4. The Drive of Galician Pride in Exile

While Galician pride became silent in Galicia under the repression of Franco’s regime, Galicians in exile continued the work towards a linguistic recovery that they had started in the years before the military coup. The Galicians that were abroad managed to group together in American emigration centers (Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba). Argentina was the major focal point of cultural and political Galician pride resistance. During these years, transcendental works of literature were published in Buenos Aires, such as Sempre en Galiza by Castelao (1944), Fardel de eisiliado by Luis Seoane (1952) and A Esmorga by Eduardo Blanco Amor (1959). The Galician language was able to carry out all the functions that were denied to it in Galicia during the years in exile. Although their pro-Galician activities were of a lesser intensity, it is worth remembering the revitalizing work of Galician emigrants scattered in other countries such as Switzerland, France and Germany, or even in other regions of the Spanish state such as Catalonia, the Basque Country and Madrid.