Thoughts on Language

Els Carrers de Barcelona. (The streets of Barcelona)

Els Carrers de Barcelona. (The streets of Barcelona)

If you’ve been following me on Instagram over the past few years you’ll know that a major goal of mine is to become fluent in Catalan, the main language spoken in the region of Catalunya. Barcelona is in Catalunya so although you can get by just fine on Spanish, you will also encounter many people speaking Catalan.

My husband is Catalan and I like to say that first I fell in love with him, second- I fell in love with his language. The first time I heard it I was like, “whaaaaaaaaat is this I’m hearing and why do I like it so much?”. I still don’t know what it is about this language but I’m smitten.

I’ve heard that we have the language we are born with, the one we are raised speaking so to speak. Then we have the language we love. For me, it’s Catalan. So when we moved to Barcelona a couple of years ago I was STOKED to get all that practice.

My first few months were such a blur because the learning curve of actually SETTLING into a foreign country was steep. Although I had incredible support from my in-laws while there, I depended a lot on my husband to translate for me and speak for me, which I hated. And I think he hated it too. But eventually I was able to speak for myself and navigate totally anxiety-ridden experiences like Estel’s pediatric appointments, my own doctor appointments and registering myself for Catalan courses offered nearly free from the Generalitat de Catalunya.

The truth is- it can take a long time to become fluent in a language but little by little it is totally possible and a worthy endeavor.

Am I fluent? No. But I can totally understand like 95% of a conversation in Catalan and can start a sentence in Catalan but then fill it in with Spanish if needed.

So although Oriol is Catalan we actually speak English in our home. We met in that language and it’s really hard to swap over to another language once the main language has already been established. Yet while we are in Barcelona we do tend to speak more Catalan and Spanish together, which makes me want to explode from happiness.

So since I don’t get a whole lot of practice at home, I resort to the Catalunya Radio app while I drive or my favorite shows like Katalonski, El Forester and Casas de Algu. I rarely sit down to watch a whole show of anything on TV or Netflix so usually I have these shows playing in the background while I’m working.

But anyways, I’m excited for our month to come back in Barcelona. We worked so hard to make this kind of lifestyle possible, living between two countries and each year we get to enjoy it, I’m eternally grateful for all our strategizing, planning and hustling to make it happen.

I may have to write a full post on strategizing in the near future!

Diane Serracatalan