Monday, June 29, 2015

NEVER ask a CATALAN if their LANGUAGE is a mix of French & Spanish!

A Weekend in Catalonia

After traveling to Barcelona for the weekend, I committed a grave error by asking the question: "So, is Catalán a mix of French and Spanish?"  There is no quicker way to lose a local friend than by asking this (ignorant) question.  I should have known better, but my Catalonian friend quickly explained to me, very simply, that Catalán came directly from Latin just as Spanish did.

After that clarification, my friend taught me how to say "My dog is very big" in Catalán "El meu gos és molt gran".  It was not easy to remember because dog=gos, a word that I don't associate with the Spanish (pero) or the Portuguese (cão/cadela/cachorro) or the French (chien)...or the Latin (canis) or even the Romanian (câine).

Where in the world does this Catalonian word gos (dog) come from?  If you are Catalán, please leave the answer below in the comment section!  It's a mystery to me, and I'm very curious...

The "Big 5" Romance Languages

(*My source for the rest of my post is Wikipedia.)

Why did I have it in my head that there were 5 main Romance Languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian) that came from Latin and that the others were a hybrid of these five "originals"...??  It's because Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian are the 5 Romance Languages that have the biggest groups of speakers:

Spanish=410  million
Portuguese=216 million
French=75 million
Italian=60 million
Romanian=25 milltion

Catalán=8-9 million

A Long, long list of ALL Romance Languages

Contrary to what I thought I knew, there are actually 23 various Romance Languages defined by some linguist on the basis of "mutual intelligibility" and they include the lovely language of Catalán of course!


  • Portuguese
  • Galician
  • Mirandese
  • Asturian-Leonese
  • Spanish
  • Aragonese


  • Catalán
  • Occitan


  • Langues d'oil (including French)
  • Franco-Provençal


  • Romansh
  • Ladin
  • Friulian

Gallo-Italic Languages



  • Corsican
  • Italian
  • Neopolitan
  • Sicilian

Dalmatian (extinct)


  • Daco-Romanian
  • Istro-Romanian
  • Aromanian
  • Megleno-Romanian


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