PalmaThe figure of Rafel Perelló (Manacor, 1962) could be defined as that of a language activist. His passion for the real, archaic and unique words of Mallorca has made him focus on them. Those words, expressions, legends and stories that Perelló mostly tells on Twitter are lost and the role that Manacorí wants to achieve is to keep them today.
How does this passion for words begin?
– As a child I spent the summers in a property and saw the end of the peasantry. That stayed with me and I decided to make a children’s book about the most important tasks of the peasantry: mowing, threshing, plowing, etc. The four simplest words. I went to interview old farmers to explain this world to myself. But I realized that I was interviewing people who would speak to me in words I didn’t know or understand. Then the original project went wrong and I realized there was a world I didn’t know existed. These people spoke to me about an unknown universe. I got stabbed by this cork and started researching.
Do you think there is a hidden world?
– I think there are many things that have not been brought to light in traditional culture, that have not been described and that have been very socialized, both big features of the language and little anecdotes. In addition, in the hidden face of culture, witchcraft and magic are the least cultivated part. Many aspects have been reflected. St. Antonius has succeeded, the glosses have also returned. But there are others that are disappearing as well. So I think if there had been a crowd in every town scratching the rocks, we could still have done a powerful custom.
Why did you think it was lost?
– It is lost because what a 100-year-old tells you is no longer told by an 80-year-old because he no longer lived it. History changed very quickly in the 20th century, not to mention the advent of mass tourism or “mass tourism”. In this sense, there are little things that are great revolutions and that have gone unnoticed, for example in the language of fishermen. Simply by stopping fishing with linen or cotton nets when you get the nylon. What is not talked about is a brutal cultural revolution. Lifestyles, concepts are disappearing … And the same thing happens in the peasantry. There are other things like technology, diseases that were once fatal, the advent of medicine; all of this results in practices being erased. And let’s not say globalization, which was the great catastrophe for me. The world has become small again.
What do you mean by globalization?
– It is impossible according to what practices or customs to maintain, but it is possible to maintain the information. Traditional culture is a refuge from globalization. Eudald Carbonell, a renowned archaeologist, says globalization was mankind’s greatest mistake. It destroyed culture, language and so on. And in the face of this uniformity, traditional culture is there to overwhelm and resist us. Globalization has a very bad aspect. Tools and words are disappearing, so I think we need to find them in book form.
The language disaster was apocalyptic
Would you say you have seen significant cultural changes?
– I’ve seen brutal changes. In fact, we usually forget about the dramatic changes that go unnoticed. Before, people didn’t close the door of their house before going to bed. This, which doesn’t seem very relevant, is very important because it shows how society has changed. The sieve between young and old is language. The lexicon that young people use seems unthinkable to me. For me the big difference today is that we have to explain the meaning of the words so that everyone would know what they meant. This is the big catastrophe. 50 years ago they would have laughed at me. The language disaster is apocalyptic.
And how do you use Twitter in all of this?
– Try to raise and inform social awareness. I see it as a social obligation to publish it. As far as I know, I don’t have to worry about that.
Which of the popular beliefs you have been told caught your attention the most?
– Wrap hair around a snake to immobilize a person. If you wanted to immobilize a person, you had to get a hair or two from that person. You had to wrap that person’s hair in a snake and while you were saying a prayer you had to lock it in a box. It is about “magical transmission”, about creating a magical effect at a distance with a part of that person’s body. There are real cases of these “transfers”, for example in Son Servera. They found a woman with a dead bat in the cemetery who was unbeaten because the entrails of an unbaptized child had been used to bewitch a mixture of sorcery. I was also impressed by the belief that farmers who went to mass on Sundays and believed in God at the same time performed magical rituals. One of the most interesting was letting it rain. It was always very important. When it wasn’t raining, they grabbed a lobster, blew their horns live, and took their heads off. Then they buried him in a cemetery and said it would rain after three days. The most interesting thing is that if you ask people from different places, the stories always match.
What is missing to see all of this in your book?
– There is still a long way to go. I think a good year. My problem is the excess information I have. It is extremely difficult to synthesize this. I want it all to come out, but … how do I do this? I also have a few books on my mind. About the hidden part of traditional culture, healing and witchcraft. And then I also saw that something that works really well for explaining is the visual term. I would love to do a book on agriculture, but with a cartoonist doing it graphically. Landscapes with many names. Majorcan peasant words explained in drawings.