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Spanish Regional Languages - Valenciano

By Mr Grumpy - Sun 15th Nov 2009

In writing my recent blog "Spanish Regional Languages – For or Against ?" I realised that I was completely ignorant of most of the languages of Spain, and like most of the English I simply stuck my head in the sand whenever it came to even attempting to understand anything other than very basic Castellano. This is getting more and more difficult today as my daughter attends a typically Valencian nursery in the village and is slowly learning more and more Valenciano every day and is starting to look like that before long Valenciano will be her first language, followed by Castellano - and finally, English.

All of her school meetings and parents evenings are likely to be held in Valenciano aswell and so whilst I have been succesful in ignoring the language so far, I realise that I am just delaying the inevitable by continuing to find excuses in learning some.

With this in mind, I have dug a little deeper on the some of the major Spanish Regional Languages to investigate both their origins and a few useful phrases that you might like to be aware of – nothing will get you acceptance into your local community faster than a few key phrases in the local language !

A recent study by the Regional Government found that most Citizens do not normally speak Valenciano. Apparently, out of the 6'600 people Interviewed 39.5% used the language at home, 33% used the language with friends and 18% used the language in larger department stores.These averages fell to single digits when the demographic was based just on residents of the major cities – Alicante and Valencia.

There is also some debate as to whether it is actually a language in it's own right – many academics argue the case that it is in fact a dialect of Catalan. Equally puzzling is the fact that Valencian is agreed to have 5 distinct “ Sub-Dialects” that have their own subtle differences !

Here are a few useful key words and phrases that it may be useful for you to know :

English Castellano (Spanish) Valenciano
Good Morning Buenas Dias Bon Dia
Goodbye Adios Adeu/Au
Please Por Favor Per Favor
Thankyou Gracias Gracies
Yes Si Si
No No No
Bread Pan Pa
Holidays / Parties Fiestas Festes
Happy Christmas Feliz Navidad Bon Nadal
Coffee Cafe Cafe
Water Agua Aigua
Petrol Gas Benzina
Beer Cerveza Cervesa
Wine Vin Vi

You will find that many of the words are exactly the same in Valenciano as they are in Spanish, and the ones that are different seem to be a hybrid of Spanish and French ( As does Catalan ).

Comment on this Blog

Thanks for pointing this out Justin ! - A Fair point, It's things like this that us expats are not always aware of. I will certainly take it on board when I'm writing my next Blog - and obviously do my utmost not to make the mistake when chatting to any of my Spanish friends.
Mr Grumpy - Sat, 21st Nov 2009
Mr Grumpy, As someone of Mallorcan heritage, I can tell you that it's quite grating when someone in English uses the term "Castellano". Or more, "Valenciano". One would certainly never say, "I'm from the UK, but I live in Geneva now and have learned Français and Allemand," or "Français and Deutsch." One would simply say, "...French and German". By the same token, your readers will understand the situation most clearly if you say, "I live in Valencia, where two languages are spoken: Spanish and Catalan. Catalan is usually referred to as Valencian here." If your daughter is only speaking English and Valencian now, don't worry. All Valencians learn Spanish perfectly from social exposure throughout their youth, whereas the reverse is not true. Regards and good luck.
Justin - Sat, 21st Nov 2009

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