Catalan Language

The official languages of Barcelona are Catalan and Spanish. But you will see that most signs in the streets are indicated in Catalan because the law establishes it as the indigenous preferential one. But the Spanish and English languages are also commonly used in public transportation and other city facilities.

As in most countries in the world, any attempt by foreigners to speak the native language, Catalan and Spanish in this city, is always appreciated. But you will observe that most Catalans in the city instinctively address visitors in Spanish.

Here’s one thing that you should know: Catalan is a language. It is not a dialect, as many people would think. It sounds close to French and Italian in many ways. So do not call Catalan a dialect; doing so will probably insult Catalans.

barcelona-catalan-language-1About 30% of local people regard Catalonia as a nation that has its own culture, traditions, and history. To them, Catalonia is different from the other Spanish regions. The subject of identity is a very sensitive issue among many traditional Catalans. In addition, using the Catalan language to a Spanish speaking Catalan is also a sensitive issue.

Nearly all shops and bars in tourist areas employ some English speaking people. But the English language is not very popular among Barcelona people. While their knowledge of the English vocabulary is very limited, the people are kind and will make some effort to help you if you speak in English.

Here are some usual vocabulary in Catalan (Spanish in brackets)

Yes – Si (Si)
No – No (No)
Good morning – Bon dia (Buenos dias)
Good afternoon – Bona tarda (Buenas tardes)
Hello – Hola (Hola ¿qué hay?)
Today – Avui (Hoy)
Yesterday – Ahir (Ayer)
Tomorrow – Demà (Mañana)
Please – Si us plau (Por favor)
Thank you – Gràcies (Gracias)
You are welcome – De res (De nada)
Goodbye – Adéu, Areveure (Adios)
Sorry – Perdoni (Perdone, disculpe)