paellaSpain is within a period of upheaval. Historical arguments about autonomy and Independence mark the current political discussions you can hear in the Congress, in a bar or at home. Cataluña (Catalunya in catalan language, Catalonia in English) has tried to get more competencies from the State, such as health services, economy, security corps… Nevertheless, at this point, Catalan nacionalist parties are struggling to get the independece from Spain.

However, this is not a political blog, so zapatero a tus zapatos (shoemaker, deal with your shoes: Spanish saying that means “do what you can do the best”). Linguistically, Spanish and Catalan share many things in common, not only the area where they are spoken, but also the origin (they come from Latin language) and many préstamos (loanwords) that both languages have inserted in the other one.

Today, we’ll learn some words that even Spaniards may not know that come from Catalan.

For this first article about Catalan loanwords, we’re going to focus on La Gastronomía (Gastronomy), that is, perhaps, the biggest source for these préstamos.

  • The worldwide well-known paella is actually a Catalan evolution from Latin patella (a fry pan); in Catalan it changed the meaning and named the food it was cooked inside; that famous dish made of rice, vegetables and meat or fish.
  • Alioli is also very used. It’s a sauce based on garlic and oil; that is the origin of its name: All (“garlic” in Catalan, ajo in Spanish) i (“and” in Catalan) and oli (“oil” in Catalan, aceite in Spanish). For us, alioli goes with any kind of meat, fish, potatoes…
  • One of the most eaten sweets in Christmas is turrón (nougat). This word comes from Latin torrere (to burn, to toast). In Spanish it evolved into tostar but Catalan prefered the classical option It refers to the way turrón is done. All of us know that Christmas is near when we can buy turrones in the supermarket.
  • What about breakfast? I love having pan tumaca after waking up. This wrong phonetic adaptation from catalan pa amb tomàquet (bread and tomato) is a good example of Mediterranean diet. A simple toast with tomato and sometimes oil, garlic and even some slices of ham, is a simbol of Catalan gastronomy.
  • Delicious and full of energy, los dátiles (date fruit) are very used in Arabic and North African gastronomy. Although it came from Greek (dactilos, “finger” in English, dedo in Spanish), Catalan language introduced this word in Spanish, finally.

These are only some examples about the influence of Catalan in Spanish vocabulary. As you can see, both languages share not only speakers but also culture and words. If you want to learn Spanish and wish to know more about the origin of words, reserve a free trial lesson on Learn from home using Skype while (why not?) your are eating a delicious pan tumaca.