As with any country in which you are a visitor, it is manners to try and speak the language. In Barcelona, the language is Catalan, but most people will be just as pleased if you attempt Castillian Spanish as it shows you are at least making the effort. If you try, most Catalonians will be only too pleased to help you out, and a little language lesson can be a two way thing. We helped a cab driver to perfect his English pronunciation!
The picture shows a little shop selling masquerade masks close to the Picasso museum and looked like it was frozen in time. This is the beautiful, cultural Barcelona I aimed to discover alongside the modern and cosmopolitan port town. I wasn' t disappointed.
Barcelona is the capital of the spanish province Catalania which has its own language. Although most of the people here understand the castillano Spanish, you will learn to hear the people speak catalan, which sounds quite different. Most public signs are also written in catalan. But as a tourist (as which you will be recognized, once you tried talking) you will have not much problems, as many Barceloneans know at least a little English or German.
Parla Català! Language, signs, flag...
I´m from Argentina, here we speak Spanish...As I was traveling to Spain I thought that in Barcelona everybody speaks Spanish...they do...but when you go to a shop the firsts words are in Catalan...also the signs in the city are in Catalan, I knew that they do this but I realize that this is very strong!!! It was a big surprise for me!!!
Catalan sounds like a mix of Spanish and French or something like that!
In spite of all the hype everybody seems to understand ordinary Spanish though the frequent use of Catalan can get you really muddled. (Photo unconnected - a street light in Plaça Real which was possibly the earliest of Gaudi's commissions.)
In Barcelona, most people speak Catalanic ( a Romance language closely related to Spanish and French) instead of Spanish. It is also spoken in Valencia,The Balearic Islands and Andorra.
LANGUAGE:In Barcelona, as in the rest of Catalonia, there are two official languages, Catalan and Spanish, which are both quite different from one another. Everybody can speak Spanish although Catalan is more commonly spoken. Spanish pronunciation is quite easy; just pronounce the words as written. On the other hand, Catalan is more difficult, with sounds more similar to French. Anyway, in most tourist places you'll always find someone who speaks English, French or, maybe, even German. En Barcelona, como en el resto de Catalunya, coexisten dos idiomas oficiales, el catalán y el castellan, que son muy diferentes. Todo el mundo conoce el castellano, aunque la mayoría utiliza el catalán para comunicarse. La pronunciación en castellano es muy sencilla, cada palabra se pronuncia tal y como se escribe. En cambio, el catalán es más difícil, con sonidos más parecidos al francés. No obstante, en los lugares más turísticos, siempre habrá alguien que hable inglés, francés y, quizás, también alemán.
Always remember that in Barcelona they speak Catalan and not Spanish (though nearly all of them seem to understand Spanish.) It is always polite to ask if they speak Spanish - particularly when meeting older people, or better still try to learn a few words of Catalan.
Easy to say, hard to do: Learn to speak some Catalan - that is, unless you have no plans whatsoever to leave Barcelona. Dance a Sardana. Try to find live jazz in Figueres by tuning into the radio program Carrer Cinquanta Dos. el seu carrer del Jazz.
CASTILLO DE CARLOS QUARTO..this is THE PALACIO de CARLOS the 4th...any guy that lived in this lavish a house would have to be influential..right? Well Carlos 'sthpoke withh a listhp' and he was so influential people copied him so now 'they sthey hablan esthpanol' a bit different than the rest of STHPAIN.Got it?
On top of this ..the Barcelona area is known as Catalonia..theres another language called CATALAN which even other Spaniards dont understand. Look at the street signs and youll see 2 languages.BUY A GUIDE BOOK WRITTEN IN ENGLISH and dont give it another thought.;-)
Catalan language & culture has been for centuries not respected by Spanish governors. Last time was during the Franco era (1939-1975) when even Catalan language was banned in schools. Nowadays, Spain is living in democracy, so Catalan is more respected and it is more preserved than before, as it must be. Of course, we Catalan people speak Spanish too but note that Catalan is our own language, not dialect.
learn some of the language...make an effort. Like you, when someone foreign comes to your country, you like it if they try to speak a bit of your language. So, try to go out of your way to make life easier for everyone & you'll find the people are fantastic. We can only speak very basic Spanish & we got by as everyone helped us out heaps. It's a fallacy that all the people in Spain can speak English. So, it's their country...make the effort!!
Please take some time to learn some Catalan before you go. Your high school Spanish might help a little but the people don't speak it. Some places are english-friendly but be prepared to ask for what you need in the native language. This is especially true in taxis.
Tipping at restaurants is not required. You may leave your small change as a token, but if it is too much, the waiter may actually give it back.
I found it very useful to throw in a few key phrases in Catalan. In my case, because I kept bumping into people, I learnt how to apologise in Catalan, which is 'Ho Siento'. I think that is how it is spelt! And also to forget for a few minutes that you are a 'Brit abroad' and just be very repectful to the locals and they will be very respectful back!
Though people appreciate foreign tourists who speak Spanish, be aware that Spanish is not their regional language--Catalan is. Throughout Spain, people are proud of their regional languages and can sometimes be offended if you assume Spanish is what they speak on a daily basis. In most of the tourist areas, you won't have any problems getting by in Spanish (or English, for that matter), but in some of the outskirts it is a different story.