In Madrid, we’ve always said that catalan is just spanish but with just a few letters less at the end of the word. For example, in Madrid we use the word “claro” (which means “okay”) but in Catalunya it’s said “cla”. There are thousands of examples like this , probably the 60% of the catalan can be spoken shortening the spanish, BUT (there’s always a but…), the other 40% are French inherited or FALSE FRIENDS.
As I taught to Pablo, in madrid we are always cooler than everyone, being Madrilian is more an attitude than an accent, so the first thing that Pablo taught me was how to keep calm and stay quiet. Once we achieved this goal, using the shortening algorithm and applying my knowledge of French, there was only one thing that would betray me in Catalonian territories, THE FALSE FRIENDS. One mistake and my cover will be found out, risking my life and my Madrilian integrity.
Pablo, as a smart guy, knew that, so he repeated to me all the words during one week, each hour, and each minute of the hour and each second of those minutes, to burn this words in my brain. It was a matter of life or death. (Well it was not that big deal but you know, I’m Madrilian).
False friends to not look like a Madrilian loser
- Acostar-se: In Spanish it sounds like “acostarse” which means going to sleep but in Catalan means get closer to someone.
- Ampolla: In Spanish the word “ampolla” means rash but in Catalan it means bottle.
- Brut: This is a failure in the shortening algorithm. The Spanish word for rude, is “bruto” which sounds similar to “brut”, but “brut” means dirty.
- Cama: In Spanish it means bed, but in Catalan it means leg.
- Escoltar: In Spanish it means guard, but in Catalan it means listen.
- Llevarse: In Spanish it means take something away, but in Catalan it means wake up.
- Pany: It sounds like “paño” which in Spanish it’s a towel for the cleaning matters but in Catalan it means latch.
- Vaga: In Spanish it means lazy woman, but it Catalan means strike.
- Tasca: In Spanish means bar but in Catalan means a task.
- Pujar: In Spanish it means to ascend but in Catalan it means go up.
- The graph “ny” doesn’t sound like “ni”. It sounds like “ñ”
- The letter “ç” sounds like ”ss”
- The graph “l·l” sounds like a long “l”
- The letter “j” sounds like “sh”, and not like “y”
- The graph “tx” sounds like “ch”
Not everything is as easy as we think. We tend to minimize the difficulty of the things when we don’t know how do they work, and we see someone, who has interiorize the workflow, doing it really fast and easy, but that’s not even a bit true. Everything has a learning process, and talking catalan, such as other latin languages (Italian, French, Portuguese…) has it’s own process, it’s not as easy as a shortening algorithm or mixing Spanish with French.