The University of the Balearic Islands retracts having apologized to a former student for sending him an email only in Catalan

Palma de Mallorca



The University of the Balearic Islands (UIB) was the protagonist yesterday of an unexpected linguistic controversy, which took place in three acts. It all started when the UIB sent an email to former university students informing them that a TEDx talk will take place online tomorrow Thursday. A former student then complained that the call had been sent only in Catalan, which caused the UIB to apologize to that young man and send him an email in Spanish. That decision provoked various criticisms on social networks, which led the UIB to retract and finally consider it “a great mistake” to have apologized to that former student.

In the original email, written in Catalan, the members of ‘Siempre UIB’ were invited to the first edition of TEDxUIB, which will take place tomorrow between 5:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The theme chosen for this event is centered on what is usually called a “Plan B”. As for the aforementioned acronym TED, it derives from the concepts Technology, Entertainment and Design. TEDx talks are already common in many cities and universities in Spain.

As already indicated, one of the former students who received the aforementioned email in Catalan then replied to the UIB. «I don’t understand your email. I studied a Master’s degree at the UIB, I studied it in Spanish: a language that almost 600 million people speak, ”he wrote. As a result of that message, the UIB sent a second email to that student, already in Spanish, with the following introduction: «Excuse me. Here is the message translated into Spanish. For your information, the TEDxUIB talks will be in Spanish. Cheers!”.

Exchange of messages

From that moment, the UIB began to receive criticism on social networks and on its official Twitter account for having apologized. One of these critical messages, written in Catalan, was from a former student who announced his wish to unsubscribe from ‘Siempre UIB’ and who also stated: «I find it unfortunate that you apologize because you have sent an email in Catalan. Especially when the person who sent you the complaint has done so with the least possible respect ». Another message along the same lines, also addressed to the UIB, described what happened as a “sad story.”

In response to that last critical comment, the UIB finally published the following message written in Catalan on its official Twitter account: «Hello. You’re right, an answer like that is a big mistake. We will not go into justifying it, since it can only be understood as a personal error. You can be very sure that it will not be repeated. In no case does it represent the spirit of the UIB. Please accept our sincerest apologies. Those apologies were accepted by that last critical interlocutor, who then pointed out: “Everyone can be wrong. Well rectified, thank you ».

The current Statutes of the UIB state in article 4 that “the Catalan language, typical of the UIB, has, together with Spanish, official language character, and all members of the University have the right to use it. The University will promote and standardize the use of Catalan within the scope of its competences ”. In this context, it should be remembered that last October the UIB presented the results of the survey it has carried out on the linguistic uses of the Balearic university community, revealing that Spanish is the language most used in classrooms, both in the classroom. teaching the subjects as well as the relationship between students and teachers. In contrast, the language most used in the administrative field of the campus is Catalan.

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