On 21st February people across the world celebrate International Mother Language Day. The day, as you’ve probably already guessed from the title, was created to celebrate people’s right to preserve their mother language. In Spain, as well as Castilian Spanish (the Spanish taught in British schools), nationally referred to as castellano, they also speak Galician, Basque, Aranese and, finally, Catalan (the official language of Mallorca). All dependent on the region of Spain you’re in.
In Mallorca, they speak a dialect of Catalan called Mallorquín which is slightly different to the Catalan spoken in Catalonia, in places like Barcelona, for example. When Spain’s dictator Francisco Franco was in power, Catalan was banned from being spoken in public spaces and was eliminated from the school curriculum. It was a bad time for places like Mallorca where citizens couldn’t speak their native language through fear of being punished. All newborns had to be given Castilian Spanish names, books written in Catalan were burned and children were beaten at school if caught speaking it.
However, the language refused to disappear as Mallorcans used it as a symbol of hope and rejection to the Francoist regime with some risking their lives to rebel by creating newspapers written solely in Catalan and others stealing and hiding important books written in the language.
So why is International Mother Language Day so important? Because protecting your mother language promotes unity in diversity, influences the continuation of a community’s traditions and culture and helps multilingual education. The latter is essential in Mallorca because most citizens are bilingual in both Catalan and Castilian Spanish with an ongoing majority of schools also teaching international languages like English, German and French.
Of course, languages are unique skills for life because not only do they open you up to more windows of opportunity concerning work and travel, but they can help prevent or slow down common illness’ like Alzheimer’s disease, act as a tool for the exchanging of culture knowledge, create empathy and understanding and, above all else, they’re INTERESTING!
How fantastic will you feel when, this summer, you can impress the locals or our Mallorcan staff working behind the reception desk at our Gran Isla Hotels resorts with a few common Catalan phrases?…
Upon arrival at your hotel, ask the taxi driver how much the journey costs,
quant és?, thank the hotel receptionist for your room key, gracies, say good morning to the restaurant staff at your resort when you come down for breakfast in the morning, bon dia….
Here’s a list of other Catalan phrases you can use on your 2017 holiday with us at Gran Isla Hotels, good luck!
How do I get to…? Per anar a…?
Where is…? On es…?
Do you speak…? Parla…?
I don’t understand No lo entenc
Excuse me Perdoni
How are you? Com va?