What different languages are spoken in Spain?

You have probably heard that there are different types of Spanish spoken in different parts of Spain. For example, you may be confused as to whether to learn Catalán or Castilian Spanish if you are going to Barcelona. You may have noticed differences in the language when going to different regions. Read on to find out about the types of Spanish spoken within Spain.
Spanish or Castilian is the official national language of Spain, however the government has allowed each autonomous community (Comunidad Autónoma) to select their own regional language too. For example, Catalonia and the Balearic Islands have Catalán, Galicia has Galician, Valencia has Valencian and the Basque Country and Navarra have Basque or Euskera.

Catalán

Catalán is not only spoken in Barcelona and the Balearics but also in Andorra, France and Sardinia. Around 4 million people speak Catalán as their first language. It is a mixture of French and Spanish and some people say it is more like Italian. The alphabet is similar to the English except they also have a Ç and vowels take both grave and acute accents (á and à). Valencian is a variety of Catalán.

please: (Catalán) si us plau / (Spanish) por favor
car: (Catalán) cotxe / (Spanish) coche
language: (Catalán) llengua or llengo / (Spanish) lengua / idioma
midnight: (Catalán) mitjanit / (Spanish) medianoche

Galician

Galician is similar to Portuguese and developed alongside Portuguese in the 14th century. Galician speakers are able to understand most of the Portuguese language. 4 million people speak Galician, with 3 million of them living in Spain. The remaining million live in Portugal and a minority in parts of South America.

chicken: (Galician) polo / (Spanish) pollo
egg: (Galician) ovo / (Spanish) huevo
no: (Galician) nom / (Spanish) no
hello: (Galician) ola / (Spanish) hola

Basque (Euskara)

Basque is spoken by the Basque people, an ethnic group in Spain and France who have their own separate identity. It is an unusual language which doesn’t relate to any other language. The most noticeable differences are that it has three classes of quantity; singular, plural and indefinite. There is no gender and there are few irregular verbs. Linguists believe the language has been spoken in the area for thousands of years and today around 600,000 people speak Basque as a first language. The English word “silhouette” comes from Euskera and the Spanish word “izquierda” (left) is from Euskera. Euskera uses the roman alphabet including the ñ and the letters are pronounced much the same as in Spanish.

hello: kaixo / hola (Spanish)
thank you: eskerrik asko / gracias (Spanish)
yes: bai / (Spanish)
no: ez / no (Spanish)
house: etxe / casa (Spanish)
milk: esnea / leche (Spanish)
one: bat / uno (Spanish)
restaurant: jatetxea / restaurante (Spanish)

Take a look at this map to see where Catalán, Galician and Basque are spoken in Spain.

If you would like to learn the main Spanish language which will be understood anywhere in Spain or South America browse our Spanish tuition pages on the website.

 
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