About Languages

Spanish and Catalan: Differences

Contrary to popular belief, there is no single (dominant) language in Spain that all of the society speaks. More than 98.8% of Spain's population speaks Spanish, while other non-official, but locally spoken, are Basque language, Catalan, and Galician language. Catalan is the most spoken language in Spain after Spanish.

Things to Know About Catalan and Spanish

Today, Spanish is the most spoken language in the world, after Mandarin, spoken by more than 430 million people in 20 countries. It is the official language of most of Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and Central and South America in addition to being the mother tongue of more than 45 million people in the United States.

Catalan, which is affiliated with the Romanian branch of Indo-European languages, is the only official language of Andorra. ln addition to being spoken on the Balearic Islands and the island of Ibiza, including Valencia and Mallorca, it is named after Catalonia in Spain. In Spain, there are over 4 million Catalan native speakers, and this number reaches 10 million worldwide.

Are Catalan and Spanish Languages Similar?

Both Catalan and Spanish are Latin-based Western Romance languages. Catalan and Spanish words are similar in 85%, while Catalan has similar words in French and Italian.

What Is The Difference Between Spanish and Catalan?

The difference between Catalan and Spanish is quite obvious, but when we examine the two languages, we can see that the pronunciation, grammar, and words are different in meaning. For example, the use of simple past tense in Catalan differs from that in Spanish. Another example is that certain artifacts are used before a name in Catalan, but there is no use of that in Spanish. It is possible to sort out the other differences between the Catalan language and Spanish as follows:

1. Pronunciation Differences

In Spanish, there are five vowels and five pronunciations in essence. These pronunciations do not change. In Catalan, "a", "o", and "e" are pronounced with or without emphasis. There are also some vowels such as é, è, ó, ò, and ú in Catalan while these vowels are not used in Spanish.

  • “X”

In Catalan, "x" is pronounced like a /sh/ sound in English.

Catalan: xocolata /shoocoolatə/

Spanish: chocolate /chokolate/

English: chocolate

  • “Ñ”

While the letter “ñ”  is not used in Catalan contrary to Spanish. The pronunciation "ny" is used to compensate for this sound.

Catalan: Catalunya

Spanish: Cataluña

English: Catalonia

  • “Ҫ”

The letter "Ç" isn't used in Spanish. In Catalan, the sound "ç" is pronounced like the letter "s."

Catalan: dolç /dols/

Spanish: dulce /dulse/

English: dessert

  • “G”

Catalan has different sounds for the letter "G", such as /g/, /viʒun/ and /ʒ/.

Catalan: gerro /ʒeroo/

Spanish: jarrón /xaron/

English: vase

​2. Grammatical Differences

There are grammatical differences between the Catalan language and Spanish in the past, present, and future tenses:

Catalan: Hola! Bon dia! Com estas?

Spanish: ¡Hola! ¡Buenos días! ¿Cómo estás?

English: Hello! Good morning! How are you?

When past tenses are used in Spanish, the periphrastic forms (combined structures with the auxiliary verb) are preferred in Catalan. 

Catalan: Ahir vaig cuinar un pastís de pomes i mores.

Spanish: Ayer cociné un pastel de manzana y moras.

English: Yesterday I made a cake with apples and blackberries.

3. Lexical Differences

In the Spanish regions of Valencia, Barcelona, and Ibiza, signages are usually in Catalan.

Catalan: No hi ha sortida.

Spanish: No hay salida.

English: No exit.

Can Spanish and Catalan Speakers Understand Each Other?

Since Catalan and Spanish are spoken in Spain, some people might think that Catalan and Spanish are mutually intelligible, but a person who does not know the Catalan language will have difficulty comprehending or understanding a service offered in that language.

Can A Catalan-Speaking Interpreter Offer Simultaneous Interpretation In Spanish?

The Catalan language is different language from Spanish when it comes to grammar, spelling, and pronunciation. Because the difference between Catalan and Spanish is based on significant cultural and political developments. If you want to get a professional service, such as a simultaneous interpretation in these languages, it is recommended that you get support from expert linguists.

What Services are Generally Offered in Catalan and Spanish?

The following services are usually offered in Catalan and Spanish:

  • TEP (Translation, editing, and proofreading),

  • Premium MTPE,

  • Transcription,

  • Voice-Over,

  • On-site Simultaneous Interpretation Services,

  • Remote Simultaneous Interpretation (RSI),

  • On-site Consecutive Interpretation Services,

  • Remote Consecutive Interpretation (RCI),

One of the most widely available services in Catalan and Spanish is the simultaneous interpretation service. HeliCo Translation provides simultaneous interpretation services in the language pairs of English-Spanish, Spanish-English, Turkish-Spanish, and Spanish-Turkish. This service is most preferred for the fields of technical, e-commerce, marketing, law, medical, pharmaceutical, safety and security.

What are the Key Points to Consider for both Spanish and Catalan Services?

While service is offered in Spanish and Catalan, first of all, whom the target audience consists of is taken into consideration. In translation services, the targeted regions of the countries and the purpose for which those texts should be translated are emphasized. For the interpretation services, information is obtained from which regions of the countries the event participants will come from. Maintaining close communication with the customer is important at this point. If the primary target audience includes different audiences in a country from regions where different dialects are spoken, then the dialect should always be preferable to everyone's understanding, not to a particular dialect. If a more specific target audience exists, the service must be offered especially with translators and interpreters speaking in the dialect of that audience.

You can also learn more about the Spanish and Catalan translation services by contacting HeliCo Translation, which has been offering services in these languages since 2015.

Written By: Gamze Korkmaz

Date of Publication: 10.27.2022

Target Audience: Those who are in need of Catalan translation services, Those who want information about the Catalan language, Those who are in need of Spanish translation services, Those who want information about Spanish

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