Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

Honoris causa

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Aina Moll i Marqus

Biographical details


I was born in Ciutadella (Minorca), on 14 August 1930, to Minorcan parents living in Majorca.

My father, Francesc de Borja Moll, devoted his life to writing and publishing the Diccionari Català-Valencià-Balear (also known as the 'Alcover-Moll' dictionary), and to promoting the Catalan language and culture, through the Editorial Moll publishing house and intense teaching, research and dissemination activities in a range of organisations. Every member of his sizeable family he had eight children was always very aware of the vicissitudes of the dictionary's progress, and came into contact with important Catalan and foreign linguists and the whole Catalan cultural resistance movement of the Franco era. That undoubtedly had a bearing on my career path, to the extent that I came to work with my father in all his activities.

When the civil war broke out I was in Minorca, where I had gone to spend the summer holiday period with my second sister, just after we had learned to read and write. We spent the war on a patch of land belonging to my grandfather, living an unstructured lifestyle. Nonetheless, we studied the Elementos de varias asignaturas textbook, a copy of which had appeared from who knows where, and devoured Majorcan tales and the entire Patufet collection. When the war ended, I went to primary school for two years, before beginning to attend the Institut Joan Alcover secondary school in Palma at the age of 11.

Towards the end of my secondary education, my sister Francesca and I worked on a Joaquim Ruyra vocabulary collection, which received the Marian Aguiló Award from the Institute of Catalan Studies (1948). Additionally, I took my first steps in the field of dialectology, accompanying my father and Manuel Sanchis Guarner on a three-month dialectological research expedition covering the length and breadth of Catalonia for the Atlas Lingüístico de la Península Ibérica (ALP I).

I completed my secondary education with an award for outstanding achievement in 1948, and went on to study philosophy and arts at the University of Barcelona, as an auditor for the first year and as an official student as of the second. In June 1953 I obtained a degree in philosophy and arts, with a specialisation in Romance languages and literature, plus an award for outstanding achievement.

In 1953 I was one of a group of Romance languages and literature students who helped to organise the 7th International Romance Languages, Literature and Linguistics Conference (whose general secretary was Dr. Badia i Margarit), which was held in Barcelona in April. Like some of my fellow students, I became a member of the Société de Linguistique Romane, the body behind the conferences in question.

Having completed my degree, in summer 1953 I set out on my first dialectal research expedition to Ibiza, for the PhD thesis I was planning to write, under the supervision of Dr. Badia i Margarit, on the Ibizan dialect. I also took part for the first time in the Summer Course in Spanish for Foreigners organised by the Estudi General Lullià education and research institution and the University of Barcelona. I had ties with those courses and other activities of the Estudi General Lullià for many years. I taught on its Catalan courses, which my father directed, and went on to found, teach French at and be the first director of the Estudi General Lullià School of Languages. I also collaborated with the Ramon Llull Chair, a body of the Estudi General Lullià and the University of Barcelona.

In the first four months of 1954, I undertook further French language and literature studies at the Sorbonne, with a grant from the French government. I followed that with a month studying phonetics at the University of Strasbourg and a summer course in German at Frankfurt/Main. I received grants from those universities on the recommendation of professors Straka and von Richthofen respectively, both of whom had taken part in the aforementioned conference in Barcelona. In addition to those grants, and offers of others that I was unable to accept, being personally acquainted with the conference participants enabled me to get much more out of my study periods abroad than a grant holder without such connections normally would. I gained access to places to which admission was highly restricted, such as the École des Chartes, and to circles of favoured students of important lecturers, such as Fouché, Straka and Hoepffner, with whom they met beyond the confines of university classrooms.

In 1956 I attended the 10th International Romance Languages, Literature and Linguistics Conference, which took place in Florence (I would later attend those held in Strasbourg in 1959, Madrid in 1965 and Naples in 1974 too). I also undertook another study period abroad, a semester-long stay at the University of Zürich, where, with an inter-ministerial exchange grant, I chiefly worked with Professor Steiger (I have also taken part in various 'stages' for teachers of French, in Paris, Besançon and elsewhere, which have had considerably less influence on my training).

I was appointed a trainee lecturer for practical classes run by the University of Barcelona's Chair in Historical Spanish Grammar in the academic years 1953-54, 54-55 and 55-56, and a teacher in the same capacity at Institut Joan Alcover in the following three academic years. However, I only occupied those positions, on an intensive basis, as temporary, unremunerated cover for their respective tenured holders, Dr. Antoni M. Badia i Margarit and Manuel Sanchis Guarner, as I began working with my father in a much fuller role in 1954.

I worked on the dictionary (volumes 9 and 10) from 1954 to 1961, initially sharing the task of preparing materials with Sanchis Guarner and then performing it alone as of 1959 (my father did all the actual writing work). At Editorial Moll, I was a proof reader for the dictionary and director of the Les Illes d'Or, Raixa and La Balanguera literary collections, and was thus in constant contact (particularly as a result of coordinating Raixa's Cap d'Any publication, an annual volume of chronicles and miscellany) with numerous writers from throughout the Catalan-speaking territories. I also collaborated with Sanchis Guarner, with a grant from Spain's Scientific Research Council, on preparing the first volume (the only one ever published) of the Atlas Lingüístico de la Península Ibérica. I found myself utterly absorbed by the tasks in question, to the detriment of my PhD thesis, for which I travelled to Ibiza on occasions and did a great deal of work extracting data from questionnaires and organising materials. Given the sheer volume of those documents, it seemed prudent to reduce the project (initially encompassing the entire dialect) to a study of the dialect's lexis and to use the rest of my data for articles for publication in scientific journals. However, I would only find time to write up a study of suffixes, which appeared in Revista de Filología Española (195-8) under the title Sufijos nominales i adjetivales en ibicenco.

In 1959 Sanchis Guarner returned to Valencia for good, and Institut Joan Alcover's headmaster persuaded me to cover the resulting vacancy by taking French classes as a tenure-track teacher. Soon after, a competitive recruitment process was held for the position of head of department, which I obtained as the highest-ranked candidate (April 1961). That was a turning point in my life, the focal point of which steadily shifted from research to teaching and dissemination. From 1959 to well into 1962, I combined my teaching activity with my work on Editorial Moll's dictionary (my work on the ALPI had ended when Sanchis departed). Upon the dictionary's completion in May 1962, however, I left more and more of my tasks at Editorial Moll to Josep M. Llompart, who had started working there in 1961, and increasingly devoted my time to education and producing textbooks, so much so that I gave up on my PhD project once and for all.

I performed a number of roles over an 11-year period, including head of studies at Institut Joan Alcover, panel member for various competitive recruitment processes and tutor to trainee teachers, as well as publishing 13 widely used French language textbooks, covering every level encompassed by two different syllabuses. Additionally, ever since my time as a tenure-track teacher in the academic year 1960-61, I had taught Catalan, as well as French, at Institut Joan Alcover, unofficially and with small groups until the end of the Franco regime, and officially thereafter. I taught Romance languages and literature at the Faculty of Arts in Palma for a single academic year (one of the reasons I did not do so for longer was that it was incompatible with "working exclusively" for the secondary school). On a private and purely amicable basis, I also coached three Majorcans in Hispanic language and literature studies (not taught at Palma at the time) and, later, another in French language and literature studies, to degree level. They sat exams as auditors at the University of Barcelona, achieving notable success.

Since the age of 15, I had taken part in cultural activities in Majorca (virtually clandestine at first, and later tolerated), including literary gatherings, meetings of 'Friends of the Arts' and, in particular, activities organised by the dictionary's three secretariats, which, based in Barcelona, Majorca and Valencia, coordinated by the distinguished and tireless Joan Ballester i Canals, were a focal point for much of the cultural resistance in the Catalan-speaking territories in the 1950s. The Majorca secretariat closed down once the dictionary had been completed, making it necessary to establish another body to continue its work in the field of cultural promotion. That body was Obra Cultural Balear, which I and a group of others founded in December of the same year, following the model of the Òmnium Cultural association. I gave up working at the Estudi General Lullià School of Languages (as well as with the scout movement, with which I had collaborated for a number of years at the request of Eladi Homs) and devoted what free time I had outside teaching to the activities (Catalan language courses, lectures, etc.) of 'l'Obra' and its subsidiary CENC (a coordinating body for teachers, inspired by the Rosa Sensat Teachers Association).

Civic activities to promote the Catalan language and culture intensified substantially in the 1970s. In 1975, at the Catalan Summer University in Prada, Lluís V. Aracil invited me to join the Catalan Sociolinguistics Group. I accepted and soon began to attend its meetings each month. When work on the Catalan Culture Conference started, I took part in the tasks corresponding to the event's language section, organised by the Catalan Sociolinguistics Group, as well as those corresponding to the conference's secretariat in Majorca, which was initially based on the premises of Obra Cultural Balear. In Majorca, we established a campaign to call for co-official status for the Catalan language, unanimously backed by everyone working for the conference. The daily newspaper Última Hora provided us with a weekly column, which we named La Columna de Foc, to raise awareness of the campaign. However, our desire to extend the initiative to the rest of the Catalan-speaking territories gave rise to disagreements over its name, specifically over the use of 'co-official status' or 'official status'. A lengthy debate ensued in Majorca, which we eventually settled by compromising on 'Campaign for the Official Use of Catalan' (as a result, La Columna de Foc, which I coordinated and assiduously edited, lost certain contributors, but would continue to be published after the conference, until I moved to Barcelona in May 1980). In 1977, I actively participated in the final acts of the conference's language section in Vic and of its literature section in Majorca, especially preparations for the major pro-autonomy demonstration (the largest in memory in Palma) staged on 29 October of that year.

Possibly as a result of those activities, in which independent figures and representatives of all political parties participated, I found myself deeply involved with a number of groups in the pre-autonomy era. I was a member of the State / General Inter-island Council Transfer Committee (1978); of the body that produced a draft statute, which was presented to Minister Clavero; of the General Inter-island Council's Cultural Advisory Committee (1977-1980), which played an important role in preparing the so-called 'Bilingualism Decree' (1979); and of Palma Municipal Council (a circumstance that aided relations between the two committees, which had common goals but belonged to institutions governed by different parties).

Additionally, I was coordinator of the Ramon Llull Chair's Summer Courses in Catalan in Majorca, in the first years in which they were held in the La Porciúncula church (1978-80); chair of the first panel of senior lecturers in Balearic Catalan in Catalonia (1979); and general secretary of the 16th International Romance Languages, Literature and Linguistics Conference's Organising Committee, chaired by Dr. Badia i Margarit, also under the auspices of the Ramon Llull Chair.

The conference took place in Palma, from 7 to 12 April 1980. On 16 May I was appointed the Catalan government's director-general for language policy. I took up office on 3 June 1980 and remained in the post until September 1988.

In those eight years, I interacted a great deal with the public, with a view to promoting the normalisation of the Catalan language against a backdrop of general consensus and respect for everybody's rights. That involved lectures, articles, round tables, cultural events and other public acts, especially after the publication of the so-called 'Manifesto of the 2,300' (1981), which opposed the Catalan government's language policy, and during the campaign to explain the Language Normalisation Act (1983). I also prepared, amid a host of difficulties, the publication of volumes 1 (1982) and 11 (1985) of the Romance Languages, Literature and Linguistics Conference Proceedings, and coordinated area 1 ('Language Normalisation Approaches and Processes') of the 2nd International Catalan Language Conference (1986).

In addition, I represented the Catalan government's Ministry of Culture on the Inter-ministerial Technological Innovation and Research Committee and the Inter-ministerial Committee for the Promotion of Females. I also engaged in intense external relations work following a conference on bilingualism and education organised by the CMIEB (Centre Mondial d'Information sur l'Enseignement Bilingue, an institution established under the auspices of UNESCO), which took place from 7 to 11 September 1980 in the Aosta Valley (I had to leave on the evening of 10 September to appear on Joaquim M. Puyal's television programme Vostè pregunta, an extremely effective means of introducing myself to the Catalan public). Catalonia's legal framework and the Catalan government's initiatives for the normalisation of the Catalan language were presented at the conference, generating great interest among both experts and government representatives from countries or communities with problems related to the coexistence of languages.

The international relations work I carried out after the conference included me presenting the Directorate-General for Language Policy at the World Sociology Conference (Mexico, 1982) and participating, as a member of the CMIEB, at the Villes Jumelées-Cités Unies World Conference (Montreal, 1984). I visited Quebec (1982, at the behest of the Catalan government), Belgium (Walloons and Flemish), Sweden, Slovenia, Israel (three countries to which I travelled as part of President Pujol's entourage on official trips), Galicia, the Basque Country, Valencia, Asturias, Brittany, Corsica and Sardinia, among other territories, and forged ties with their academic and political institutions.

I stepped down from my position at the Directorate-General in September 1988. In October, I resumed my duties at Institut Joan Alcover, following eight years of special sabbatical leave, as well as my work with Obra Cultural Balear and numerous activities geared to raising awareness of and promoting Catalan (especially, in the first half of 1989, a weekly half-hour television programme broadcast by TVE-Balears, on the basis of which I wrote the book La nostra llengua, Editorial Moll, 1989).

In 1989 the Catalan government awarded me its highest civilian honour, the Creu de Sant Jordi.

In late 1989, by virtue of an institutional agreement for language normalisation between the government of the Balearic Islands, the islands' respective councils and Palma Municipal Council (to which the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science, local authorities and many civic, political and cultural organisations also later signed up), I was appointed general coordinator of the Balearic Islands Language Normalisation Campaign, an atypical body governed by an inter-institutional committee. The campaign's programmes (which, according to the appendix to the agreement, "must last for several years") are partly 'general', managed by Obra Cultural Balear with a budget provided by the institutions that have signed the agreement, and partly the exclusive responsibility of each of those institutions.

I have been working full-time for the campaign and based at its office since September 1990. Part of my work consists of ongoing interaction with the public, through articles, radio and television programmes, lectures, etc., aimed at spreading knowledge on the Catalan language and the sociolinguistic situation, and at heading off troubling manoeuvres. Another part consists of nurturing relations with the other Catalan-speaking territories and elsewhere. That aspect of my work encompasses the Catalan Summer University and various events, such as those organised by the Valencian parliament and the Valencian government on parliamentary language and sociolinguistic issues respectively, those held in Galicia on education, the Brussels symposium on the role of Catalan and Dutch in Europe in the future, and the International Catalan Language and Literature Association's conference in Alicante.

The campaign's office promoted the first awareness-raising campaign using modern advertising media, under the slogan No et mosseguis la llengua ('Don't bite your tongue'). It was in the context of that campaign that the Catalan Assessment Council was established, a body that officially accredited Catalan language skills in competitive recruitment processes (until it was dissolved in 2004) and was responsible for Línia directa amb la Campanya de Normalització, the longest-running press section for language-related awareness raising and queries to have existed in the Balearic Islands to date. Cristòfol Soler's resignation as president of the government of the Balearic Islands in May 1996 hastened the end of that organisational system.

I joined the Language and Literature Section of the Institute of Catalan Studies in 1993, since when I have participated in its activities, particularly those related to lexicography, the Balearic Islands and the Antoni M. Alcover Year (2001) and Francesc de B. Moll Year (2003) commemorations. In 2004 I published the biography Francesc de B. Moll: la fidelitat tossuda.

During the period in question, I also provided language-related advisory services for the Balearic Islands edition of the Bíblia catalana interconfessional, which was published in 1994.

The government of the Balearic Islands issued me with a Ramon Llull Award, its highest honour, in 1997, the year in which the accolades were introduced.

Similarly, one of the Pompeu Fabra Awards, issued by the government of Catalonia in recognition of contributions to enhancing Catalan's social status, was bestowed upon me in 2008, the year in which they were introduced.

Also in 2008, Sencelles, the Majorcan town in which I currently live, paid me a tribute, promoted by the local Obra Cultural Balear office, and asked me to give the opening speech for the Assumption of Mary feast day celebrations.

In November 2010, on the occasion of my 80th birthday, the Institute of Catalan Studies organised a tribute for me in Palma, where a new centre had just been established. Issue 876 of the journal Lluc features the speeches made at the event.

More recently, in May 2011, the Collegi Eugenio López primary school in Palma honoured me by changing its name to Escola Aina Moll i Marquès. At the corresponding ceremony in the school, the Ministry of Education and Culture of the government of the Balearic Islands presented me with the Medal of Merit it had conferred upon me in 2010 in recognition of my civic, cultural and educational work.

[March 2012]

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