Saturday, April 10, 2010

Discúlpame, pero...habla español?

Excuse me, you speak Spanish?

So I move to Barcelona thinking I can be all that and a bag of chips because I speak Spanish. Well, it seems that speaking Spanish doesn't really get you into the locals-only club since Catalan is the real locals language here. Actually, I knew this before I got here but I was surprised that almost all of daily life is conducted in Catalan and not in Spanish.

What is Catalan? To you and me in the English-speaking world, it's sort of a mash-up of Spanish and French words with a sort of Italian-esque sound. In language geek-speak, according to what is an unquestionably-accurate source (linky), there are around 7 million speakers of the language, it's based on Vulgar Latin (whatever that is), and was pretty much fully formed as a language around the 10th century. It's widely used in Catalunya, of which, Barcelona is a part. Catalunya also extends into southern France and the language can be heard there as well.

Interestingly enough, Catalan is just one of four official languages used in Spain. The others are:

Euskara--a very unusual language spoken by the Basque people on the norther border of Spain where it meets France.

Galician--roughly a combination of Portuguese and Spanish from the border area of Spain and Portugal

and, of course, Castilian--the widely recognized language of Spain.

Having daily interactions in a combination of Spanish and Catalan reminds me of when I first moved down to Merida, Mexico. At the time, when I was learning what I thought was Spanish, I was actually learning Spanish with a whole-buncha' Mayan language words mixed in. I didn't know until later which was which. I'm assuming it'll be the same this time.

Until then...discúlpame, solo hablo español y ingles... (forgive me, I only speak Spanish and English...)

(A big gracias to Marcos, a Catalan local and new friend, for the language education.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are reviewed prior to being posted.