Catalan vs castellano: Catalan vs. Castilian: What’s the Difference?

Catalan vs. Castilian: What’s the Difference?

If you’ve ever been to Barcelona, or anywhere in Cataluña for that matter, you’ll have noticed that not everything is written in the kind of Spanish you might expect.

In fact, most of the time it isn’t written in Spanish at all!

Even though in places like the metro most signs are written in both Catalan and Castilian (the original name for Spanish), often only Catalan is used.

This is because Barcelona is in Cataluña, one of the 17 autonomous communities in Spain (defined regions with their own devolved regional powers and a high level of self-government) and a community which uses Catalan as its primary official language. Even though Castilian is an official language of Cataluña and is widely used in Barcelona, the most widely spoken, and the language used in most official documentation, is Catalan.

But what’s the difference?

Castilian, or Castellano, is the old Spanish name for. ..well…Spanish.

This is because the language we call Spanish today originated in the old kingdom of Castille which was one of the key building blocks in creating the region we now know as Spain, and whose language spread throughout the peninsula, becoming the main official language.

Catalan is the original language spoken in Catalauña and in areas throughout Valencia, the Balearic Islands and Aragon. During the dictatorship, the teaching and speaking of Catalan was not allowed (though obviously people still used it in secret at home). Fortunately, that is no longer the case and the Catalan people are allowed to use their language as they see fit.

Isn’t Catalan basically the same as Castilian?


They’re two completely different languages and although, of course, there are some similarities and Spanish speakers are able to get the gist of the sentence most of the time, (though its a lot easier to understand written down that spoken) you’ll also notice many similarities with French, Italian and even Portugese because Catalan shares the same latin and romantic roots.

So what if you’re moving to Barcelona and can’t speak a word of Catalan?


We’ve written a handy list of the most common phrases in Catalan, along with their Spanish and English equivalents to get you started.

Bon dia = Buenos días = Good morning

Bona nit = Buenas noches = Good night

Benvingut = Bienvenido = Welcome

Adéu = Adiós = Goodbye

Com estàs? = ¿Cómo estás?

Em dic… = Me llamo…= My name is…

Gràcies = Gracias = Thank you

Moltes gràcies = Muchas gracias = Thanks a lot

Mol bé = Muy bien = Very good

No ho enterc = No entiendo = I don’t understand

Parla anglès? = ¿Hablas inglés? = Do you speak English?

D’on èts? = ¿De dónde eres? = Where are you from?

Sòc de… = I am from…

So, good luck, bona sort, buena suerte, with your language learning. Let us know how you get on in the comments below!

– Erin

Catalan VS Castellano – ShBarcelona

Arts & Culture


by James

5 min read

Moving to or travelling in a country when unfamiliar with the language can present a lot of problems to the unprepared. Even if you’re only planning on staying in the country for a few weeks, gaining a cursory grasp of the language can help you get the most out of your trip; It will allow you to experience more than just the tourist attractions, and will leave you with a deeper appreciation not just of your holiday, but of your holiday’s location and the people that live there. Just remember to do your research before embarking on your journey to make sure that your preparation time is being spent well. If you are planning a trip to Barcelona and its surrounding areas there are few things that you should keep in mind.

To start with Spain is more than just a single country, it is made up of several regions each with their own dialects and in some cases entire languages. The Basque region to the north speaks a language that has roots almost entirely apart from typical Castellano (Castellano is the dialect of Spanish spoken in Spain, as opposed to Hispo-American Spanish from South America), and the principal language in the Catalonian region to the north-east of which Barcelona is the capital is Catalan.

While planning a holiday or move to Barcelona, you’ll need to decide if you want to learn Catalan or Castellano to use during your stay. Both languages will seem indistinguishable to the uninitiated, however Catalan developed apart from modern Castellano and shares a lot of characteristics of French and Andorran, and it is these characteristics that will help differentiate the two. Thankfully, people in Catalonia speak Castellano as well as Catalan and most of the signs and menus are in both languages as well, so either language will put you in good stead. With Barcelona being such a popular tourist location most of the bars and restaurants are English friendly as well, but having a smattering of Spanish or Catalan will definitely assist in day to day life when you’re out of the tourism-driven areas.

Learning another language from scratch is never easy, however both Catalan and Spanish are both fairly approachable from an English-speaking background. Many of the words that we use in English come from the same roots in common Latin, and you’ll recognise this the more you read and to a lesser extent read. Words that end in ‘tion’ will be the same except for ‘cion’ in Spanish and ‘cio’ in Catalan, and words that end in either ‘ible’ or ‘able’ are essentially identical in both languages apart from pronunciation. There are lots of other similarities that you’ll notice the more you learn that will assist you in picking up either language quite rapidly, but don’t let that mislead you to thinking that the language is simple. If you do decide to commit to learning, you’ll find it’s easy to lose motivation when you realise just how little you can express yourself and how little you understand at the start. Once you’ve learned enough to be able to express basic needs and wants, you’ll get frustrated with the limited scope of expression you have.

The biggest hurdle that you’ll quickly discover if you try and persevere with Spanish or Catalan, is the speed at which both languages are spoken, and the relaxed structure and usage that the locals use. Most people don’t realise until they start learning a language just how quickly and lazily we use language in our day-to-day lives. Slang and half finished sentences litter our conversations in English, which are pit-falls to anyone trying to model their learning off our speech. Listening to the radio and watching film and television helps substantially in learning the patterns of speech and correct structure and pronunciation as they tend to be scripted, although nothing will assist you quite as much as actually speaking as much as possible. The textbooks all say that immersion is the best way to learn, and it is indispensible aide for learning. Of course there are always the free online sources such as Duolingo and Rosetta Stone (unfortunately not available for Catalan and both focus on Hispo-American Spanish), although they are best used to gain an understanding of grammar and bits of vocabulary as users aren’t required to speak. Learning how to say the basic greetings and farewells, requests and shopping phrases will help you a great deal as most people will adapt their speech to accommodate a learner, and used in concert with another source such as either website you’ll pick up enough to communicate within a few weeks.

There are literally hundreds of learning aids, the best advice is to find something that works for your time frame and learning style – if you’re only in town for the weekend learn how to ask where the bathroom is and if you can pay with a Visa and you’ll be fine. If you’re staying for a few months, try signing up for a MeetUp group for conversations with native speakers and study daily and you’ll find yourself holding entire conversations in no time at all.


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About the author


James is a passionate writer in love with the beautiful city of Barcelona.

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Facets of the Spanish language.

Catalano vs Valenciano vs Castellano…

iglesias wrote: In this topic we will try to understand the differences between Spanish language dialects.
There are several main Spanish dialects:
1. Castellano
2. Catalano
3. Valenciano
4. Gallego
5. Latino.
6. Let them complete me…

If allowed, then we supplement: it will rather not be about dialects, but about languages. In Spain they speak 4 languages, namely independent languages ​​-
“Euskera” (Basque Country and Navarre),
“Gallego” or “Galego” (Galicia),
“Catalan” (Catalonia and the Balearic Islands) and
“Valenciano” (Valencian Community), local variant of “Catalan”.

Official languages ​​of Spain

The original culture of many Spanish regions has long been under pressure from the centralist regime of Franco. The only officially permitted language was Castilian – castellano (castellano).

However, about 6 million people in Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands speak the Catalan language – Catala (catala) – an independent language belonging to the Romance group and closely related to the dialects of the south of France. Galician language – galego (galego) – related to Portuguese, the language of 2.5 million Galicians inhabiting the north of Spain. The Basque language – Euskera, which is spoken by 1 million Basques on both sides of the Spanish-French border, has nothing to do with any of the European languages. The language is truly mysterious. Scientists suggest its connection with the Caucasian dialects.

Today all four languages ​​are recognized as Spanish administrative languages, they are spoken on the radio, books and newspapers are published in them.

The current Spanish constitution recognizes the right of the Autonomous Associations to use their own languages. Article 3 of the Spanish constitution reads:

1. Castellano is the official Spanish language of the state. All Spaniards are required to know it and have the right to use it.

2. Other Spanish languages ​​may also be official in the respective Autonomous Associations in accordance with their Statutes.

3. The richness of the different varieties of the Spanish language is a cultural heritage that should be the object of special care and protection.

Spanish languages ​​officially recognized by the Statutes of the Autonomous Associations:

“Euskera” (Basque Country and Navarre),

“Gallego” (Galicia),

“Catalan” (Catalonia and the Balearic Islands) and

“Valenciano” (Valencian Community), local variant of “Catalan”.

The following Spanish languages ​​also have official support: “Bable” in Asturias and a local dialect in Aragon.

Dialects and Variations of Spanish

Spanish Dialects and Variations are regional varieties of Spanish, some of which are quite different from each other, especially in pronunciation and vocabulary, and there are much fewer discrepancies in grammar. While all Spanish dialects use the same written standard, all spoken varieties differ from the written variety, to varying degrees. The term “dialect” does not refer to other regional languages ​​in Spain such as Catalan, Galician and Basque.

(By the way, here’s another “desk” for learning Spanish).

Catalan showdowns

In the town of Canet de Mar, which is 10 minutes from us, a scandal is raging – “En Canet queremos clase en catalán”: la hostilidad en una pintada a las puertas del colegio”.

The parents of a five-year-old child who studies at a local school (in Spain, children go to school from the age of three, Young Catalan also studied here from the age of three), demanded that 50% of the lessons be conducted in Spanish, not Catalan, because now absolutely everything classes are in Catalan (at the school of Young Catalan, too, all classes were and are being conducted in Catalan.)

The school sent parents with their demand as expected, the parents then went to court. The court considered the case on the merits and found out with great surprise that, it turns out, there is a federal law that requires that in autonomies where there is a language (Catalan, Galician, Asturian, Basque) at least 25% of the lessons should be taught in Castellano – Spanish , the main state language. This law has existed for a long time, just in Catalonia they put a huge bolt on it.

By the way, I remember a story when we received a paper from the school where Young Catalan studied angrily saying that the school was required to conduct 25% of the classes in Spanish, otherwise the school (it is private, but receives state subsidies) will stop receiving subsidies from the state. Well, in the letter, my wife and I were invited to come to a demonstration for our native Catalan language, it was also reported that since the school would never obey these savage requirements, in the event of cutting off from state subsidies, we would pay exactly twice for the education of the child more.

We didn’t go to the demonstration – somehow we weren’t in the mood – but, thank God, the school wasn’t cut off from subsidies either.

But back to Canet de Mar. This case reached the Supreme Court of Catalonia, and this court also confirmed that there is such a law, and that 25% of classes in all schools in Catalonia must be conducted in Spanish. It is not necessary, of course, to teach mathematics and literature in Spanish, the court explained. Enough teaching in Spanish of stage movement, observation of nature and classes dedicated to cross-stitching.

This statement infuriated the Government of Catalonia and the local Ministry of Education, where they angrily declared that schoolchildren are already chatting to themselves in Spanish (little brats), so why should they also teach this blasphemous language spoken by the oppressors? Enough with them Catalan, nefig plant a foreign culture. Timid statements about the fact that, in general, Spanish is the main state language, quickly drowned in the cries of “Aquesta maleïda espanyol pot anar a l’infern”, after which in Canet, caring citizens took to the demonstration demanding to protect their native Catalan from the encroachments of the invaders .