While travelling in Spain last week, I found myself waiting in the car for a long enough period of time that I decided to see what might be on the radio. By some cosmic coincidence, the first station I tuned to happened to feature a discussion of language.
[ The astute reader will note a certain vagueness in my recollection of various details below. This is because I was only half paying attention to the radio program. My 20-month-old daughter was in the car with me, and though she was pretty sleepy, she still demanded the other half of my attention. ]
The program's guest (or so I surmised, since it was the person talking over the phone) was citing some recent finding by the Real Academia Española that some number (or percentage?) of the websites (or webpages?) hosted in Spain is not available in (Castillian) Spanish, instead only being available in one or more of the other languages of various Spanish regions (Catalan, Basque, Galician, etc.) — and presumably a smattering of other languages, including English.
The implication, of course, is that the existence of this number/percentage of non-Spanish webpages/sites is to some degree an undesirable or even unacceptable state of affairs. The program's host and guest are in complete agreement about this, and enter into a discussion of some other study that they'd heard about — apparently conducted at some university in Spain, but mirrored by many studies elsewhere — demonstrating that bilingualism has positive effects on attention and memory. What they appear to be implying, of course, is that it's a particular shame that some-such number/percentage of webpages/sites are not available in Spanish because this fails to promote bilingualism, and bilingualism is good for you. Don't these Catalunians / Basques / Galicians / etc. want to do what's good for them?
Almost as if he'd noticed that he'd basically imposed a requirement on Catalunians / Basques / Galicians / etc. that he wasn't requiring of Castillians like himself, the program's host further noted that he'd made a new year's resolution to learn English. And he explained later that he understood that learning another language is difficult, that it requires "poniendo los codos en la mesa" — putting one's elbows on the table, a prototypical image of a student deep in his studies. I know this is a saying, but at this point I did have to wonder how literally the host meant it. If he honestly thinks that the best way to learn another language is to hit the books, he's not likely to learn much English. And if he and his guest honestly think that making more webpages/sites available in Spanish is going to promote bilingualism in Spain, they're simply delusional. Making webpages/sites available in more than one language is not a service to (prospective) bilinguals; it's a service to different groups of people, each of which may only speak one of those languages. People navigate to the page/site in the language they know best — do the program's host and guest really think that any significant number of people want to read content in a language that they understand less, or to read content in multiple languages just for the mind-enhancing fun of it? [Please note the boldface, linguophilic would-be commenters!] Please.
Besides, if promoting bilingualism is really a concern, then is the number/percentage of webpages/sites not in Spanish really the issue? I imagine (though of course I may be wrong) that the vast majority of webpages/sites hosted in Spain are Spanish-only, and I doubt the program's host and guest would find this fact undesirable (much less unacceptable).