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You say patata, I say potato

Updated: Jun 28, 2018

When I set out to learn Spanish, little did I know that this was going to be a political issue. I'm just learning Spanish, right?

What most of us typically think of as Spanish is technically Castilian. This is the national language of Spain and is what taught in the US in high schools. Though slightly different in pronunciation and a few colloquialisms, it is the language that is used throughout Latin America and Mexico also. As a matter of fact, Castilian is the second-most spoken primary language in the world, with only Mandarin having more native speakers.


Spain is made up of 17 individual and autonomous communities, plus 2 autonomous cities; Valencia is one such autonomous community. Many people feel tremendous pride for their communities, perhaps even more so than for Spain as a whole. It is not uncommon for me to see Valencian flags (Reial Senyera) hanging from balconies on my walks around the city.



In addition to their own flag, take a guess what Valencian's have specific to the region. If you guessed their own language, give yourself a gold star!

Valencian is the co-official language in Valencia right along with Castilian. Without falling too far down the political well, some folks consider Valencian its own language, and some consider it a dialect of Catalan, which is a different autonomous community (Barcelona is in Catalonia and again, I choose to completely side-step Spanish politics...).

At this moment in time, I don't have any need to know Valencian, and I have no interest in clouding my brain with it while I'm here trying to learn enough Castilian to pass my DELE A2.

Except, I got a little turned around this morning. Typically when I leave the apartment, I put my headphones on and have Google Maps set to give me walking directions to school. This morning I decided to try my hand at navigating my way without the prompts...it didn't go well. Somewhere along the way I missed a turn and then I got turned around, and I could not for the life of me get Google Maps to reroute me.

Because of our day off on Monday, classes are beginning earlier this week, and I wanted to stop and get a cup of coffee from my smiling friend, so I did what I had to and hailed a cab.

"Dime"

"Carrer Batxiller, por favor."

"Que?"

"Carrer Batxiller."

"Ah, Calle Batcheller."


When I got to school, I asked my teacher about this interaction.

Turns out my biggest lesson of the week has been in learning that Calle and Carrer are the same thing (street), and that I'm best off just dropping it entirely and going with Bat-CHEE-yair so as not to upset those identifying as Valencian v. Castilian.


Oh, and also that I'm not quite ready to silence Google Maps.


#Spain #Spanish #culture #Valencia #expatlife #expat

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Atlanta, Georgia | Valencia, Spain