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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Potato, Po-tah-to, Catalan, Valenciano

The longer I live in Valencia, the more my Spanish improves, the more I feel that I should be learning Valenciano or Catalan. The truth is, I can’t even tell these two languages apart and the other truth is that I have had my hands full learning Spanish. Another problem is that almost no one speaks Valenciano here in Valencia. In four years I have never had anyone address me in Valenciano in Valencia. Out in the villages it is spoken more but here in the capital to me it seems like somewhat of a secret.  I still have a very long way to go with Spanish but there is room in my schedule for a little Valenciano.

I met some people from the Catalan city of Girona. In Girona people speak Catalan almost exclusively and this young couple admitted that they speak Catalan better than they speak Spanish. Between themselves I noticed that they spoke only Catalan. I felt like a total dumbass for not speaking Valenciano, or very little but that is just the way it is here in the capital of the Valencia Community.  We talked a lot about Catalunya, the language, Barça, and mushrooms. Something that I already knew about our neighbors to the north is that they are wild about mushrooms. My new acquaintances from Girona told me that venturing out into the mountains for mushrooms is a regular activity for almost everyone in Girona.  That sounds like a great tradition to me; I love wild mushrooms and can never get enough of them.

I have decided that it’s time to start learning Catalan/Valenciano, at least passively. I can at least watch some television in Catalan or Valenciano. I’ll start this evening with a program that the folks from Girona told me about called Caçadors de Bolets (mushroom hunters).  People would have to be truly crazy about mushrooms to watch a program about people looking for them out in the woods of Catalunya. The most important Catalan word in this television show is one English speakers already know, mortal. It always good to know which mushrooms you can eat and which ones will kill you.

We watched the Barcelona FC – Espanyol football game one Saturday evening and witnessed the tremendous welcome received by Andrés Iniesta from the Espanyol crowd.  I’m not a Barça supporter like the two from Girona but I have to say that it has been an honor and a pleasure to watch this great team play these last few years. This year’s Barça is probably the best team in the history of the game but only history will bear that out. As you can probably guess Barcelona FC is sort of representative of Catalunya independence and Espanyol fans are Spanish nationalists, at least that is the general breakdown from what I’ve been told.

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