Spanish, Catalan or English?
A part of travelling is having to communicate with people in another language than your own. And in Barcelona there are two official languages. So which one should you try to speak?
Barcelona is the capital city of Catalonia, an autonomous community of Spain. In Catalonia, the official languages are Castilian Spanish and Catalan. Castilian Spanish is standard Spanish, called “Castellano”. The other language, Catalan, is not just some kind of Spanish accent. It’s an actual language that has evolved from Latin. It has similarities with French and Spanish because it belongs to the same language group. Catalan is spoken in Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands. It is also the official language of Andorra, a very small country in the Pyrenees that lies on the border between Spain and France. And that’s not all, there are even parts of France and even Italy where Catalan is spoken.
Many Catalan people are very proud of their language. Education in Catalonia is mostly offered in Catalan and it is also the main language of the Catalan autonomous government and other public institutions. But because of immigration there are many people in Catalonia who speak Spanish or other foreign languages rather than Catalan. In recent years, since tourism has blossomed, more and more people in the city have also learned to speak English. An important language when you live and work in a city like Barcelona where tourism is one of the main sources of income.
So which one do people speak more in Barcelona? That would have to be Castilian Spanish. To give you an idea, 98% of the population speaks Spanish and about 50 to 60% speaks Catalan. These numbers would be different if you would look at rural areas of Catalonia where Catalan is spoken a lot more than in the city. Most Catalan people speak both languages.
When you are visiting Barcelona and you do want to learn some words or sentences to get around, Spanish would be your best bet. Here are some words and phrases to help you with the most important stuff!
How are you?: Cómo estás?
Thank you: Gracias
You are welcome: De nada
Excuse me: Discúlpame / Perdón
One beer please: Una cerveza por favor
Two beers please: Dos cervezas por favor
White wine: Vino Blanco
Red wine: Vino Tinto
See you later: Hasta Luego