To keep with tradition, since it is towards the end of our stay here in Barcelona, I have decided to dedicate a small post to a few words and phrases we have learned in Catalan. In case you are ever in Barcelona or other parts of Catalonia, I hope this little, yet random collection helps you out :)
Catalan 101 with We Chase Summer
The first thing you have to know is that Spanish is not the official language of Barcelona, it is Catalan, though most people do speak Spanish here as well. The second thing you have to know is that Catalan is not just slight deviation of Spanish. In fact Catalan is a mix of Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Italian, and in fact it is closer to the latter two than to Spanish.
So if you come to Barcelona already knowing and speaking Spanish, you will be able to understand quite a bit, especially in writing, but in conversations it will not be easy to follow.
With those basic tenants in mind, here we go with some basic Catalan vocabulary and phrases!
Mira - Look
The first few times I heard this word, I was at the playground with the kids. I completely incorrectly assumed that Mira was the name of one of the kids! But then I kept hearing it in random places, and I knew I was wrong. "Mira" couldn't be that popular of a name! I finally asked a total stranger on the day we were watching the Human Towers. It turns out the word actually means "Look". I have generally heard people shouting out, Mira Mira!
Adéu - Good bye
I learned this early on from a sweet nanny I met at the park. Even if you don't speak a word of Catalan or Spanish, if at the end of the conversation you say adéu, instead of adios, the Catalans appreciate it :)
Gracies/Merci - Thank you
It was a bit odd when I kept hearing people use "Merci" when we were in Girona. It turns out many Catalans actually use Merci to say "Thank you". However, we do hear a lot of people say Gracies (spelled and pronounced slightly different than in Spanish), as well.
La Cuenta Por Favor - Check Please! (Spanish)
El Compte Sisplau - Check Please! (Catalan)*
This is especially helpful for people who like to frequent restaurants in less touristy neighborhoods. I asked a friendly waiter in Platja D'Aro for help with this one on our very first day in Catalonia.
*One of our awesome twitter followers sent us a message letting us know the Catalan phrase. We were also informed that possibly the reason for the spanish phrase being slightly more prevelant is that historically the wait staff were mostly immigrants from Spain to Catalonia.
Hola. Si. No. - Hello. Yes. and No are are the same as in Spanish.
If you ever find yourself at a grocery store with no signs, you might find these helpful. I learned these words while I was waiting in a very, very long line at a popular fruits and vegetable store in our neighborhood:
Jenjbre - Ginger
Esparrec Verd - Green Asparagus
Tomaquet - Tomato (easy one!)
Cogombre - Cucumber
Alberginia - Eggplant (I really like this one, we should bring it over to English!)
Raim - Grape
We hope you find these helpful but remember what we always say, don't let the language barrier hold you back from communicating. We have found the people here to be extremely kind and patient. The ones that can will switch to English once they realize we speak it, and the ones that can't still continue to "talk" to us but mostly with body language and pointing to things :)
Do you know any Catalan? Any other helpful phrases we should add here for visitors to Catalonia?