In 1906, from October 13th to 18th, Antoni M. Alcover achieved what some had deemed impossible, to carry out the First International Congress of the Catalan Language. The Congress was a very significant event for the recovery of language and collective commitment to vindicate its dissemination and study. 3.088 participants signed up for the congress, and it was the first milestone in the process of modernisation and standardisation of the language.
Antoni M. Alcover announced it two years earlier, in a lecture on January 25th, 1904 in the Athenaeum in Barcelona. The first project was to convene a congress of Catalan syntax. For the preparation of the Congress he counted on the help of Dr. Bernhard Schädel and on several organizing committees' collaboration.
Indeed, the idea behind the Congress emerged as a result of the difficulties involved in the great work that Alcover had started in 1900: the development of the Catalan-Valencian-Balearic Dictionary. The lack of grammatical and scientific studies, among other reasons, prompted Alcover to conceive a congress that dealt with Catalan language and with other philological, historical, literary, social and legal aspects, as reflected by the three sections in which the congress was divided: philological-historical, literary and social-legal. Since people who attended the congress came from many different fields, it can be concluded that all sectors of society were involved.
In addition to the scientific sessions of work, the congress represented an event of great social projection in Barcelona and the Catalan regions, since it included cultural events of great importance, such as the bibliographical Catalan exhibition (which collected books, periodicals and other materials published in Catalan from 1840 to 1906 at the Fine Arts Palace), gala functions, conferences, concerts by the Catalan Choir and it culminated with the Garden Party, which took place at Park Güell.
It was an international congress, as many foreign experts in Romance languages participated in it, providing scientific guidelines in accordance with modern linguistics. It had a dazzling success: more than three thousand delegates, with the participation of the best European Romance experts and supporters as prestigious as M. Menéndez y Pelayo, F. Mistral Fastenrath J., J. Saroïhandy, R. Foulché-Delbosc E. Vogel, A. Farinelli, A.Körösi, A. Gómez Restrepo, Rufino J. Cuervo, A. Pikhart, etc. From a political standpoint, the Congress was backed by the factual forces of the moment: the Regionalist League, the Barcelona City Council and Solidaritat Catalana. Internally, the press played a paramount role from the onset. Certainly, the significance of this Congress for language and literary Renaissance was huge. In fact, after this landmark, the figure of Father Alcover inspired such admiration that he was called Apostle of the Catalan language.
The Congress was, along with other remarkable happenings in 1906, an event of great importance in relation to the future of the Catalan language: the following year the Library of Catalonia and the Institut d’Estudis Catalans were founded; in 1908 scholarships for future philologists to train abroad were promoted, and the proceedings of the Congress were published. In 1913, the League of the Good Word was created and the spelling rules, which were dictated by the Philological Section, were set. The Philological Section was founded in 1911 by Enric Prat de la Riba, and Alcover was its first president.
Antoni M. Alcover claimed in the inaugural speech:
"So this is the reason why we summoned you to celebrate this Congress, to get everyone who calls himself a lover of our language to hold hands with each other once and for all, all together making one body set in motion to go forward, to carry out the restoration, reintegration and glorification of the Catalan language, with every man working with all his might, to the limit of his capacity”.