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Barcelona and Catalan Language

Updated on January 14, 2011

About Catalan Language


Before you travel to some new destination, it is a smart idea to learn some basic about the culture and architecture of the destination place. Here I will give you small secrets about languages in Barcelona, that you might don’t know.

Most people in Barcelona don't speak much English, and the official government language is Catalan. It is a mixture of French, Spanish, and other Romance Languages, and it is spoken by roughly seven million people, most of them being from Catalonia. While visiting Barcelona, one will inevitably encounter this colorful language. Many street signs, landmarks, and public facilities are marked in Catalan. In some neighborhoods of the city it may even seem impossible to get a menu in Spanish or English.

The language of Catalan came on to the scene as early as the 10th and 11th and it is recorded as having been one of the most widespread languages of the 14th century. Catalan continued to prosper into the 15th century with what is considered the Gold Age of Catalan literature. However, with the War of the Spanish Succession at the beginning of the 18th century, Catalan’s prosperity came to a grinding halt. The language went through various periods of prohibition and repression.

 During the early 20th century, Following the civil war and the coming to power of Franco, any threats to the new state were immediately and severely suppressed, including the autonomous region of Catalonia.

Through the fifties, the use of Catalan language was prohibited and punishable by law. By the beginning of the sixties, however, small protest movements began to gradually loosen such harsh restrictions. People began to fill out official forms in Catalan, hum Catalan tunes, and even ask policemen for directions in Catalan.

Then in 1975, with the death of Franco and the crowning of King Juan Carlos, Spain was lead back into democracy. The region of Catalonia once again gained autonomy statute, and the official language was declared to be Catalan.

Barcleona The Capital of Catalonia

Catalan speaking area
Catalan speaking area
Sagrada Familia Cathedral
Sagrada Familia Cathedral
The Beach of Barcelona
The Beach of Barcelona

Nowadays, people in Barcelona are very proud of their language and they use it with foreigners rather than Spanish. By knowing how to say some simple Catalan phrases, you can make friends with people in Barcelona very easy, and make your trip easier without having to depend on an interpreter and perhaps help yourself bargain for stuff more successfully.

Those are some basic phrases that might help you:

Yes= Si

No = No

Thank you = Gràcies

Thank you very much = Moltes gràcies / Moltíssimes gràcies 

You're welcome = De res

Please = Si us plau

Excuse me = Perdó / Perdoni

Hello = Hola

Goodbye = Adèu

So long = A reveure

Good morning = Bon dia

Good afternoon = Bona tarda

Good evening = Bon vespre / Bona tarda

Good night = Bona nit

I do not understand = No ho entenc

How do you say this in [English]? = Com es diu això en [Català]?

Do you speak ... = Parles…

English = Anglès

French = Francès

German = Alemany

Spanish = Espanyol / Castellà

Chinese = Xinès

I = Jo

We = Nosaltres

You (singular, familiar) = Tu

You (singular, formal) = Vostè

You (plural) = Vosaltres

They = Ells

What is your name? = Com et dius?

Nice to meet you. = Encantat de conèixe'r-te. 

How are you? = Com estàs? 

Good = Bé

Bad = Malament

So so = així-així

Wife = Dona / Muller

Husband = Marit

Daughter = Filla

Son = Fill

Mother = Mare

Father = Pare

Friend = Amic (m), Amiga (f)

Where is the bathroom? Where is the toilet? = On és la cambra de bany?

Where is ...? = On és ...? 

How much is the fare? = Quina és la tarifa?

Ticket = Bitllet (6488 bytes)

One ticket to ..., please. = Un bitllet a ..., si us plau.

Where are you going? = On vas?

Where do you live? = On vius?

Train = Tren 

Bus = Autobús 

Subway, Underground = Metro 

Airport = Aeroport 

Train station = Estació de tren 

Bus station = Estació d'autobusos 

Subway station, Underground station = Estació de metro 

Departure = Sortida 

Arrival = Arribada 

Car rental agency = Lloguer de cotxes 

Parking = Aparcament

Hotel = Hotel 

Room = Habitació 

Reservation = Reserva 

Are there any vacancies for tonight? = Hi ha habitacions lliures per aquesta nit? 

No vacancies = No hi ha habitacions lliures.


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    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 

      7 years ago from The English Midlands

      Hi :)

      We go to Catalonia a lot (and I've written about some of it 'spiritual' history in my hubs about religious visions) ~ it's a beautiful area.

      We have learned some Spanish ~ and even a bit of Catalan, but it's not easy to understand ~ especially if the speaker has a strong accent! We discovered this when our car broke down one night!!

      We have always managed to cope though! :)

      Learning at least some of the language, and keeping a phrase book and dictionary to hand, are good tips!


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