Why do some spanish people speak Catalan?

Not all spaniards do, but I know in Catalonia and the Valencia region lots of people speak both Catalan and Spanish, but nobody speaks only Catalan. My point is, what benefits are there to speaking Catalan when the entire Catalan speaking world speaks Spanish aswell? If everyone stopped speaking it would it make a difference?

9 Comments

  1. It should be noted that Catalan is also the vernacular language of Andorra, where far less speak Spanish than in Catalonia.

    By all practical measures, there would be no benefit to a foreigner learning Catalan unless he or she was interested in East Iberian languages or wanted to live in Catalonia and understand the language of daily life used by most of its inhabitants. Catalan has endured as a relic of the ancient culture of the Catalonia region, just like the Welsh language is an important part of the cultural heritage of Wales, even though all Welsh speak English as well and you would be hard pressed to find a Welsh monolingual.

    The same situation is mirrored in all the regions of Spain. Many Asturians speak Asturian, and the Galicians are very proud of their linguistic heritage. Some areas, like Extremadura and Leon, have begun to lose their traditional languages as more and more young people abandon them in favor of Spanish. As the Leonese language dies, a huge part of the unique identity of the Leonese people dies with it. The Basques, for example, are a fiercely independent people who take the utmost pride in their unique non-Indo-European language, and cling tightly to it even though they cannot use it to communicate with citizens from other areas of the country.

    Language forms a vital part of the intangible heritage of a people, which disappears when the cultural language is superseded by another tongue. While there might be few practical reasons to learn Catalan as a second language, the Catalonian people have every reason in the world to continue to speak their beautiful language.

    Mikhail
  2. Yes, it would destroy the culture and identity of Catalonia. Same goes for the Basques and the Valencianos. Originally these were independent regions, but as part of Spain they also need and do speak Spanish . Many Catalans and Basques want to become independent of Spain.Franco under his dictatorship, tried to force these autonomous regions to give up their cultural identity, and to be totally submerged as part of Spain Fortunately he did not succeed.

    Hope this helps

    DR.Rosen
  3. a lot of people speak two language, do you mean they should simply stop speaking the least practical?

    before the romans arrived in spain, the native spoke a number of different languages, of which most had to give way to the language of the conquerors(which was the forefather of spanish today). but some languages did survive, for example the catalan and the basque language. most people that speak basque or catalan speak spanish as well, but catalan or basque is the language of their ancestors, it’s THEIR language. language has a lot to do with culture and heritage, and your first language usually has a special place in your heart, and you want your kids to know the language as well. these language may not be that practical, but they are an important part of the spanish heritage, and a lot of history would be lost if they stoped being spoken.

    my first language is swedish, and here in sweden, where I live, everyone speaks english, but swedes still speak swedish to each other. swedish is OUR language, and even though english is a lot more practical and useful than swedish, we are swedish and we want to keep out language in order to feel connected to our cultural heritage. I think it’s important to preserve the small lanugage across the world. there are over 7000 language spoken today, but half of these language are endangered and believed to become extinct over the next hundred years. when they die, a lot of culture will be lost as well as unique ways of saying things in and expressing thought and feelings.

    so, of course it would be more PRACTICAL for catalan people to simply drop their language and just speak spanish, but I don’t think they would agree to do that very easily.

    Wowcool!
  4. National boundaries and ethnic boundaries don’t necessarily line up, especially in Europe where all sorts of events have shifted the boundaries over the centuries.

    The native language of Catalunia is Catalan. Period.

    They speak Spanish because at this moment in history the boundaries of the nation called "Spain" include Catalunia. In Ireland, people speak English, many as the first language, but that’s not the native language (unlike my other examples, the English were pretty much successful at stamping out Irish as a first language). In India, most people speak Hindi or English, and neither one is the native language to the vast majority of them. In the former Soviet Union, everybody spoke Russian but ethnic Russians were a small minority, and Russian was not most people’s native language.

    That’s just the way the world works. And efforts to stamp out native languages have usually been unsuccessful, cruel, and pointless.

    Randy P
  5. Better to ask: why should they? Catalunia is a region with its own language and culture which was taken over by past Spanish speaking regimes. Naturally Catalonians want their own language and autonomy, which they are protesting about currently. It doesn’t mean that they won’t continue to speak Spanish, but the idea of them giving up their native language will never happen.

    servane
  6. To be honest… Catalonia is full of people that just speak Catalan. Don’t think Barcelona is Catalonia. Catalonia has too much cities and rural areas where the mother tonge is Catalan.

    Serp
  7. En Cataluña se hablan dos idiomas mayoritariamente: castellano y el catalán; aunque últimamente el inglés está cogiendo mucha fuerza. Aunque el castellano es la lengua más hablada en el territorio, es el catalán la lengua propia de Cataluña, tal como reza el Estatut o Carta constitucional de comunidunad autónoma. Todos los catalanoparlantes maternos son bilingües con el castellano así como muchos castellanoparlantes maternos lo son con el catalán. A diferencia del pasado, la lengua catalana empieza a gozar de cierto prestigio institucional y social; aunque tiene aun mucho terreno por recorrer en la faceta cultural, en dónde el castellano es el preferido por los consumidores. El caso de Catalunya vendría a ser comparable a Irlanda en cuanto a distribución sociolingüística: en el àrea metropolitana de Barcelona (con barrios en que predominan una u otra lengua) y camp de Tarragona domina el castellano; en el resto, el catalán. Una de las consecuencias del franquismo fue la perpetuación de ciertos núcleos de castellanohablantes monolingües que apenas tuvieron contacto con el catalán ni suficientes oportunidades siquiera de aprenderlo. El catalán, aunque no es estrictamente necesario para comunicarse con catalanes, no deja de ser una lengua muy interesante tanto por ser un elemento de arraigo a la tierra como por sus peculiaridades gramaticales y pronunciación exótica respeto a las demás lenguas españolas. También hay otras comunidades en dónde se habla el catalán: Valencia y Baleares, aunque distan mucho del catalán de Cataluña. Yo siempre pienso que cuando un extranjero habla en catalán hoy en día realmente le está contemplando historia.

    Un saludo !

    Cesc
  8. Sorry I forgot to translate it into english since I was wondering that this page was really written in castilian.

    In Catalonia there are spoken mostly two idioms: castilian and catalan; moreover english is getting stronger lately. Although castilian is the most spoken language in such a territory, catalan is really the own language of Catalonia, as well as Estatut or regional constitution declares. The whole thing is that all the catalan maternal are bilingual with castilian or spanish as well as a huge amount of castilian maternal speakers are bilingual in catalan too. Unlike the past, catalan has beginning to enjoy the institutional and social prestige; but nowadays has still remain to get stronger in cultural aspect, where the castilian idiom is the most preferred among catalans. The case of Catalonia would be compared with Ireland regard to sociolinguistic distribution: in the metropolitan are of Barcelona and in ‘camp de Tarragona’ it’s castilian that predominates over; the rest of the country speaks mostly catalan. One of the consequences of franquism was the perpetuation of castilian monolingual hoods which they barely had contact with catalan and not even were given too much opportunities to learn it. Catalan, though not strictly necessary to communicate with catalans, is really a so interesting language either for being an element of integration or for its gramatical peculiarities and exothic pronunciation regarding other spanish languages. Also there exist other spanish communities where catalan is spoken: Valencia and Balear Islands, but they are a bit different from standard catalan.

    I’ve always thought that when a foreinger speaks in catalan nowadays somehow is making history.

    Greetings !

    Cesc

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