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I recently went to Barcelona and found that the people there speak Catalan but not Spanish. Although, I did listen some words that are common in both Spanish and Catalan, still there was also a difference in the accent. I am just curious to know how much different is this language from Spanish? Anyone?

Thanks in advance.

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4 Answers 4

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Catalan is definitely a whole separate language, as in not a dialect of Spanish. It is significantly different. It sounds a bit of mix of Spanish, French and Italian, and in fact it's closer to the later two than to Spanish.

Wikipedia article for Catalan has comparison of these languages.

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I would say Catalan is as different from Spanish as Galician is, but not as much as Basque, a language completely incomprehensible to Romance-language speakers due to having different roots. But I can understand why you may have been confused initially.

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Where have you read that the Basque language has Celtic origins? I've seen some studies about the Basques (as an ethnicity) being linked to Irish and Welsh, but never any about the language itself. –  Alexis Pigeon Jul 1 '13 at 18:14
    
@AlexisPigeon True, you are right. It's actually inconclusive as to the true origins of their language, but there is enough evidence to point out that it is a non-Indo-European language. I guess I got swayed by the people when I was Spain: they always made references to themselves and their language as being of Celtic origins. –  Five Points Jul 2 '13 at 3:46
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I won't go into details about the linguisitcs (experts in that domain will do a far better job), but just consider my own experience.

I'm French, and I've been living in Barcelona for 10 years. When I arrived here, I knew nothing about Catalan, but I had close to no problem understanding it when written, thanks to the knowledge of both languages (native in Fench and intermediate in Spanish). Some other latin friends of mine (Italian or Portuguese speakers) share more or less the same experience. It's harder for non-latin language speakers.

On the other hand, understanding Catalan when spoken is a totally different thing, and knowing back then French and Spanish was not of much help.

I've not been to any Catalan class, but after 10 years, you get pretty much used to it. I understand it without any issue, and I kind of manage to speak it (but I never found myself in a situation where it was a necessity).

In a nutshell, Catalan and Spanish are totally different languages, specially orally. However, they are close enough for a Spanish/French/Italian/Portuguese speaker to understand without much trouble.

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I'm Spanish. For us Spaniards, Catalan is understandable. The languages are different but pretty close. With a little imagination you can guess the meaning of most words. If you happen to know some French, that will definitely help too.

Problems may arise when it comes to understand native speakers, speaking full-speed, because the accent is very different. But if they speak slowly, you can easily understand them.

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