I’ll be beginning a well-earned break from work today, and spending a few days in Barcelona. It’s my first time there, so I’m very excited to see it. Like many European cities, Barcelona is bilingual, with most of its citizens speaking Spanish and Catalan. So in honour of Barcelona, I thought I’d see if there were any common English words that were derived from Catalan. Words such as:

aubergine: believed to derive from the Catalan alberginera, in turn coming from the Arabic al-badinjan, meaning eggplant. Which is why if you’re American, you call it an eggplant, unlike us pretentious Europeans.

paella: the word hasn’t really changed much!

And, well, that’s about it, at least for words we’re sure about! But language in Europe has historically been so fluid, that it’s often futile to try to pinpoint an etymology to a specific language like Catalan, when at different times in the past there wouldn’t have been a lot to distinguish it from Old French, or Spanish.

I probably won’t be around for the next few days, so have fun, and hopefully I’ll have learned a little Catalan, and a little Spanish by the time I’m back.


13 thoughts on “Barcelona

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