Catalan Got Your Tongue?

(Read on for a beginner's guide to Catalan... Or head here for a beginner's guide to Spanish!)

Put away the Spanish dictionary mi amigo, because if you want to get along with the notoriously nationalistic folk of Catalonia (Catalunya) you'll find a few choice Catalan phrases a sharper weapon in your armoury of charm. Yes, the Barcelonese are very protective about their beloved Catalonia, which they regard as a separate country to Spain (and needless to say a superior one!), and although you will get by just fine in Spanish you'll certainly pull away from the crowd with a few choice Catalan phrases up your sleeve. With that in mind Barcelona Life has thrown together some handy greetings, words and expressions that will undoubtedly prove your passport into the locals' hearts and affection.

A rudimentary knowledge of Catalan is certainly helpful in getting around Barcelona, as most addresses and road signs are written in Catalan not Spanish. Particularly helpful to know is that carrer = road (calle in Spanish), plaša = square (plaza in Spanish), passeig = passage (paseo in Spanish) and avinguda = avenue (avenida in Spanish). Entrada and sortida are entrance and exit, no fumeu means no smoking and obert and tancat mean open and closed respectively.

But first a little introduction. Catalan is an entirely separate language to Castilian Spanish, and not just a separate dialect as many assume. It is spoken by around 9.5 million people and as well as 6 million speakers from Catalonia, 2.5 million Valencians speak a regional version of the language, whilst Catalan is also the preferred tongue of residents of the Balearic Islands and the official language of Andorra. Those who were forced to learn latin at school will be pleased to have a small grounding in Catalan already, as it is a so-called Romance language derived from Cicero and chums. For modern speakers, think of a mix of Spanish and French with a bit of Italian thrown in and you're half way there.

Here are some phrases and beginners' vocabulary to get your tongue around, below. Meanwhile, if you're keen on learning some Catalan then head to our page on Catalan and Spanish language schools in Barcelona for some suggestions on where to study.

Click to listen

How much does this cost?
Do you speak English?
How much does beer cost?

How are you?
Two beers please!
I lost my passport - can you help me?

Thank you
Do you have a sister?
Drop by tonight and I'll show you my stamp collection

Barcelona language tips

cal que l;hi done una ullada per avans. Pot ser de bon mati... pero manca el temps, Ja hi ho verem ?

reviewed by manel from United States on Jul.04.2013

very helpful. hope they can understand my scottish accent.

reviewed by sammy from United Kingdom on Dec.12.2012

Ahh thanks guys. This is a bit of fun. Looks like I'll have to sign up for some Catalan classes if I want to woo the local lasses in Barcelona!

reviewed by Kenny from United Kingdom on Feb.23.2011

Might be enough to get me through one crazy night. Cheers, mates!

reviewed by Danno from United Kingdom on Apr.09.2010