Article by English Girona

Why learning Catalan?

It may come as a surprise to you, but at English Girona we offer Catalan and Spanish courses in addition to the English and Japanese ones. Plenty of people, mostly foreigners just established in the city, have contacted us over the years because they want to use the language as what it is: A tool to reach over to other people in everyday life.

But… Why it is important to learn Catalan? Spanish may work as well as Catalan, and it’s more used across the globe. And that may be, but choosing to learn Catalan over Spanish has some perks that you might find interesting. Let’s take a look ar them:

  1. Catalan is the default language of the majority of people living in Girona, so, if you live, or plan to move to, in Girona or its vicinity, it’s the obvious choice. Even more than Spanish.

    While everyone will understand you in Spanish, people will appreciate it if you address them in Catalan, the language used by the majority of the people in the province. Greetings as “Bon dia”, or “Bona tarda” are commonplace, and it is not rare to hear them just coming inside a local shop.

    Catalan may not be as widespread in Barcelona, Tarragona or Lleida, not to speak about other Catalan-speaking zones like La Franja or Les Illes, but here, in Girona, Catalan is everywhere.

  2. Catalan is not so different from Spanish, French or Italian. If you are familiar with those languages you will find it easy to adapt your mindset to Catalan. Plenty of Catalan’s features are used in those other three languages: grammatical gender, double negation, plenty of shared vocabulary… Even phonologically it sounds like a strange mix between Italian and Spanish.

  3. Catalan is a treasure. Even being so similar to Spanish and French, Catalan has its own merits. It’s a different language, with a different approach to solving a myriad of little problems. Grammatically speaking, we have the “Pronoms febles” (weak pronouns), a quirk shared with the Polish language, for example. But there is more.

    There’s also a huge amount of specific and unique Catalan vocabulary, not found in other languages. Words like “seny” or “aixopluc” are directly untranslatable as a single word (“seny” is the proverbial common sense) or they choose a different etymological path that is worth preserving (“aixopluc” comes from an expression that means “below the rain”, and it’s the Catalan word for shelter).

    And I didn’t say anything about sayings and expressions. Catalan has a wide range or proverbs, sayings and expressions that makes this language a joy to learn.

  4. Catalan is spoken by more than 10 million people across 4 countries. Yes, four countries. These are: Spain, Andorra, France and Italy.

    In Spain, we have the main community of Catalan speakers, all over the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula: Catalonia, Valencia, la Franja de Ponent (the easternmost part of Aragon) and Les Illes Balears are Catalan speaking regions, although in Valencia the language is called “Valencià”, and there is some controversy about if it is the same language as Catalan (it is).

    In Andorra, between the Spanish and French borders, Catalan enjoys official status, a privilege shared with the French language.

    In France, the French département of the Pyrénées-Orientales is known as “Catalunya del Nord” (Northern Catalonia), and Catalan is spoken there. North Catalan speakers have grown in numbers over the last decade.

    Last, but not least, Alghero, a city in the north-east of the Italian isle of Sardinia, keeps Catalan alive, a strange and unique relic from the island’s past as a part of the Spanish Kingdom.

  5. So, there are many reasons to learn a new language, whichever it is. And for learning Catalan, those are some of them.

    Albert Gallego

    Albert Gallego

    Albert is our resident teacher for Spanish and Catalan lessons, as well as initial japanese courses.