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When I first arrived in a certain Catalan village some sixty kilometres from Barcelona, like most English people all I knew about Catalonia was that the word formed part of the title of a book by George Orwell. Again like most English people, when Catalans started to tell me about their history and language, I jumped to the conclusion that I was being fed so much nationalist flim-flam. What changed my mind - to the extent that I not only learnt Catalan but eventually came to write and publish in this language - was gradual exposure to the reality on the ground.

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