Once and a while it is nice to get away from where you call home and bask in the beauty of another country. Whether for it be for holiday, business or permanent relocation, Spain is a superb place to visit.
Culture and Traveling in Spain
In Spain travel is easy, accommodation is abundant, the weather is flawless, the residents are relaxed, the beaches are beautiful and the food and drinks are easy to come by and full of regional variety. Culturally, Spain is littered with magnificent old buildings, from Roman aqueducts and Islamic fortresses to Gothic cathedrals as well as some of the World’s greatest art- Dalí, Picasso, Goya and El Greco. With Spain’s favourable location, stunning culture and many tourist hubs including cities such as: Barcelona, Madrid, Seville and Valencia it is no wonder that more than 50 million foreigners visit Spain each year.
However, before arriving to Spain, it is important to realise that more than one dialect of the official language, Spanish, or as Spaniards call, Castilian, is spoken in this country.
Language in Spain
The Spanish language of Spain has a rich and enduring history that can be traced back about 2000 years before the birth of Christ when Celtiberians spoke an early Celtic language. Over centuries the language has evolved and has created many variations of Spanish, which are spoken throughout the country today. In fact, about one fourth of the country’s residents use a tongue other than Spanish as their first language. Here is a brief look at these languages:
Basque (Euskara): Basque is the language spoken by the Basque people, which is an ethnic group of both Spain and France. Basque is easily the most unusual language spoken in Spain since it doesn’t fit into the Indo-European family of languages that includes Spanish and French as well as other Romance languages. About 600,000 people in Spain speak Basque and what makes it linguistically interesting is that it has never been shown to be related to another language.
Catalan (Català): Catalan is a strong cross of Spanish and French although many would say that it is more similar to Italian than it is to Spanish. Besides being spoken in Spain, Catalan is also spoken in parts of Andorra (where is it the national language), France and Sardinia, Italy. Around 4 million people speak Catalan as their first language while just as many speak it as their second language as well.
Galician (Galego): Galician is a language of the Western Ibero-Romance branch and is spoken by nearly 3 million people, mainly in Galicia, a community located in north-western Spain. Galician developed along with Portuguese until the 14th century, which gives reason to its strong similarities to the language, especially in vocabulary and syntax.
Miscellaneous Languages in Spain
Fala (Fala): Only spoken by about 10,500 people of whom 5,500 live in a valley of the north-western part of Extremadura near the border of Portugal.
Astur-Leonese (Asturleyonés): This language is a group of mutually intelligible Romance dialects of the West Iberian branch and is spoken in the autonomous communities of Asturias, north-western Castile and Leon and western Cantabria.
Extremaduran (Estremenyo): A romance language spoken by several hundred thousand people in north-western Spain.
Aragonese (Aragonés): Spoken around the Aragon River and the province of Huesca in Aragon.
Aranese, dialect of Occitan (Aranés, variant d’o gascon): Aranese is a variant of the Gascon dialect of Occitan spoken in Val d’Aran in the north-east of Spain. About 90% of the region can understand Aranese and about 65% can speak it.
Although you may not be traveling expansively to regions where different dialects of Spanish are spoken it is good to be aware of the many diverse languages used in the somewhat small country of Spain.
Photo courtesy of guardian.co.uk