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Speech by President of the Government at presentation of project entitled "Spanish, a Global Language"

Reina Sofía National Art Center, Madrid, Wednesday 24 January 2018

Public officials, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

After what we have been able to enjoy, and what is yet to come, you will appreciate that I am not in the best of positions; but someone has to present the project entitled "Spanish, a Global Language" and, since this is something important to us and it is something that is comforting to the Spanish people, the President of the Government will take on this responsibility in this speech that begins by me speaking about the year 1521 because, on a day like today, the Magallanes-Elcano expedition arrived in a Polynesian groups of islands as the forerunner of the great milestones that in the following months would culminate in the first journey round the world. They were the first Europeans to reach those islands; they were making History and shaping, step-by-step, the world that we know today.

The importance of that trip is not limited to its geographic, scientific or economic scope. That exploit headed up by the Spanish people revolutionised History in all its elements, opening up a new horizon to our culture. This was the first Spanish round-the-world trip, the first time that our language became a global vehicle for knowledge and trade; knowledge and trade that thenceforth opened up a constant flow of coming and going; an enriching flow for many nations from the four corners of the globe.

It was precisely this leadership, it was precisely this effort, it was precisely this talent, it was precisely this experience in the seas, it was precisely this innovation and it was precisely this daring to cast oneself out into the abyss of the unknown. Talent, effort, innovation and bravery are values that also embody those who are here with us today. We wanted them to be here because the presentation we make today relates to them and is a call to them. For that reason, I want to thank them for their presence here in representation of political and economic institutions, the academic, cultural, scientific, press and sporting world.

The path we are setting off down today is a task incumbent on us all and today is a day for celebration. We are celebrating what unites us, and what makes us all stronger. This is, in short, a great day for the Spanish people, for Spanish culture and for Spain.

Dear friends,

In the year in which we begin the celebrations of the 5th centenary of that historic adventure by Magallanes and Elcano, the government sets in motion this project entitled, "Spanish, a Global Language" to boost the value and use of the Spanish language, and to promote its ability to create opportunities for the Spanish-speaking community.

We think of Spanish culture not as a tough and exclusive journey, but rather as an expansive lake, like that "Spanish Lake" which is what the Pacific Ocean was known as for centuries. We do this to highlight the structural importance of the language. This is a first-ranking element that unites us and the Spanish-speaking community; moreover, it is not only strengthened through the Spanish language, but also through the diversity and wealth of the rest of the Spanish and island languages, which make up an essential part of this great project.

A project, that of language and culture in Spanish, that for us is a State affair; something that we are going to work hard on, in the certainty that this responds to the interests of all our citizens and in the certainty that it is an asset that we are obliged to look after and pass down to the generations to come.

We all have experience in the way in which we take on artistic creations from Ibero-American authors, and vice versa, as our own; we have all applauded and been pleased with the success of Spanish authors and artists in Latin America and the United States; a success that millions of people share as their own, because it belongs to them, which is why we call it "culture in Spanish". A good example of this is the great performance we just enjoyed on the stage a few moments ago, re-living our Golden Age, in this work by Lope de Vega performed with so much talent by the Young National Classical Theatre Company. And, of course, another great example of excellence and constancy is the career of the group "Los Secretos", whose performance we will also have the opportunity to enjoy this morning.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Regarding this tremendous potential we show, the project "Spanish, a Global Language" is developed to complement and expand the specific goals and potential of our language throughout the world, with emphasis on three main areas of the Spanish language:

- Spanish as a product: Spain is the leading destination for the Erasmus programme and our language is the second most spoken in the United States. For that reason, we believe that this is a great opportunity to make further progress in teaching the Spanish language. In this regard, I wish to highlight the importance of the creation, albeit recently, of the SIELE (International Service to Evaluate the Spanish language), under the auspices of the Cervantes Institute. The SIELE is a system for the certification of the degree of dominion and competence of the Spanish language, with the main new feature being that it is wholly managed by digital and electronic media, with the backing of the University of Salamanca, which celebrates its 8th centenary this year, and of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and which 70 other universities have signed up to, with a major presence of Ibero-American universities.

- Spanish as a medium: We will commit to the edition, music, cinema, creation in general, and in particular, the content of the Information Society and the development and programming of new applications, digital services and technologies in Spanish.

- And Spanish as a market: Such an extensive linguistic field facilitates and considerably reduces the costs of transactions and ends up becoming an economic area in its own right. In the midst of globalisation, whoever has a global communication vehicle such as ours is in the front line to harness the opportunities for economic growth. With this goal in mind, we will head up the field of "language technologies" and the development of linguistic infrastructures and applications and innovations in Spanish.

Over the course of our history, Spanish has been a spearhead of innovation, literary creation, cultural expansion and trade conquests. This is true today; in new technologies, in economics, in the arts, in music, in cinema, in literature and in sport.

In the current technological and digital era we want to drive on this entrepreneurial and innovative character. We want Spanish to be present in the technological eco-system that is developing at full speed and which offers innumerable opportunities for business development.

In the so-called "language technologies", the Spanish industry has great potential, both due to the importance of Spanish around the world, and due to the high level of our researchers:

- A great many possibilities are offered in a world where technology and language go hand-in-hand with tearing down barriers to innovation.

- A great many possibilities are offered in a world where translations, searches and transcriptions are carried out by machines.

- A great many possibilities are offered by huge repositories of knowledge if we ensure that they are easily and quickly available to all our citizens.

For that reason, our goal is to promote the "universal use of knowledge in the Spanish language", something that just a few years ago seemed like a pipe dream but which today, thanks to the development of new technologies, we have within our grasp if we are capable of harnessing this opportunity.

We have the best strands available. I am convinced that we can be highly competitive, create new industries, modernise our public authorities, and become a language that is essential and vital for programming in the 21st Century, and place all this tremendous potential for growth and prosperity at the service of the Spanish-speaking community.

At this time, as we saw in the video that was presented at the start of this event, Spanish is the third most widely used language on the Internet and the second most used in the social media. This capacity for communication very clearly demonstrates the quantitative and qualitative value of the Spanish language around the world. This is something that transcends mere language and invites us to reshape its value as a global agent to produce wealth, identity and culture.

Dear friends,

The measures developed through this project are concentrated in two main lines of action:

- First, cohesion and the global vocation of the Spanish language:

  • We will seek to preserve its unity in coordination with all those countries where it is an official language, together with language academies, universities, the media and multimedia in general.
  • The creation of an "Ibero-American Erasmus" will allow what has been an unprecedented success story in the European Union to be extended and transferred, precisely now when we have just celebrated the 30th anniversary of these Erasmus grants; a measure that is framed within the values of inclusion, modernisation and internationalisation that we share with the rest of our European neighbours, and also with the Ibero-American community.
  • We will also open up new ways to access information and knowledge. We will do so through the creation of a platform of digital content in Spanish that will house works and documents in various disciplines, such as literature, cinema, music, the arts, science and technology.
  • And we will involve public authorities and institutions to ensure that the places of origin of the most renowned authors of our literature are the true centres of cultural heritage and tourist attractions, because all of them, in the same way as our artists, our scientists and our athletes, make up and champion our hallmarks and talent.

- Secondly, the economic value of the Spanish language. The measure of the potential of our language can be seen in the backdrop of 570 million Spanish speakers who make up a great business society with trade exchanges that recognise no borders.

The initiatives included in the "Spanish, a Global Language" plan are cross-cutting. They touch on such varied fields as education, the economy, new technologies, culture, and naturally, tourism; initiatives that will allow the capacity of the Spanish language and culture in Spanish to come together as part of this project in order to obtain a greater return in each area. To achieve this, the government has designed an institutional framework in order to harness the instruments currently available and allow them to be extended towards new horizons related to our language:

- Firstly, through the approval of a Royal Decree in the near future that will modify the post of Government High Commissioner for the 'Spain Brand': henceforth the post will be renamed "Government High Commissioner for the 'Spain Brand' and the Promotion of the Spanish Language" and the functions will be extended to span all the goals and initiatives of this project.

- Secondly, we will set up an Advisory Council with representation from institutions and Ibero-American public authorities, that will oversee the optimal functioning of the different initiatives. Although many of them will come from the public authorities, this project is also aimed at involving civil society and the private sector, an involvement that will be essential for the success of the project.

- Thirdly, we will appoint "ambassadors" of "Spanish, a Global Language", who will lend their image and their voice to this renewed boost that we seek to give our language.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

For the international community, Spain is now a benchmark for stability and solvency. Through the efforts made by all the Spanish people, we have left the worst economic crisis in the last 40 years and the loss of confidence and jobs behind us, and we are now heading up the greatest recovery of our peer countries.

We find ourselves facing an historic opportunity to further boost our finest ambassador in the world - our language. Through the project "Spanish, a Global Language" we will achieve this thanks, once again, to the effort and the talent of all those who make up this great nation and this great community of millions of people connected by tradition, culture and a common language; this great community which, now more than ever, is communicated and united by future ties, a common bond that moves us to conquer the transformation of our societies.

Spain, as I mentioned at the beginning, headed by the great transformation of the world five centuries ago as a result of the Magallanes-Elcano expedition. Together with the Ibero-American community, we want to take a front seat in the new changes taking place around us. These are times of union, of globalisation, of opening up to the world, of collaborative culture, of agreements, of cohesion and of institutional strength. It is time to live, understand and build a new world in Spanish with broad horizons and great possibilities, and we have an unprecedented historic opportunity that we must not let pass - which is to head up this project.

Thank you very much.

Non official translation