Catalan (Català), spoken in Catalonia, Valencia (where it is called Valencià), Balearic Islands (where it is sometimes called MallorquíMenorquí, or Eivissenc in each of the islands), Andorra (where it is the only official language), the south of France (north Catalonia, corresponding more or less to the Pyrénées-Orientales department) and the Sardinian city Alghero, is spoken by about 7 million people, making it the 8th language in the European Union. It is, like Spanish, French or Italian, a Romance language, and people who hear it for first time have the impression that it is a mix between them. However, it is a separate language, as old as any of the other Romance languages, and you will be very welcome if you try to say some words while you are in a Catalan-speaking region.
Like other Romance languages, Catalan nouns have genders. Every noun is either masculine, like home ("man") or feminine, like dona ("woman"). The gender of things may not always seem to follow from the meaning of the word; why a house (casa) is feminine but a car (cotxe) is masculine is just one of the vagaries of the language. Fortunately, the gender of a noun is often indicated by the last letter of the word; -a and -ó usually indicate feminine nouns (but not always), while masculine words have no common ending.
Adjectives also have gender and number. Like nouns, -a usually indicates the feminine form. Adding an -s at the end of an adjective makes it plural (there are some variants in -os or -es as well). Adjectives need to match the noun they describe in both gender and number. For example, borratxo "drunk", when modifying les dones ("the women"), makes les dones borratxes.
In this guide, where genders of nouns or adjectives comes up, the "/a" form is used to differentiate. It should be clear from the context when to use the feminine and when to use the masculine form.
Written Catalan may seem less phonetic as Spanish or Italian to an English speaker, but it is definitely less complicated to pronounce than French or English. It has variations from one region to other; the model presented here is the standard pronunciation, similar to the language of the region in Barcelona. Each of the following -dialectal areas has its differences in pronunciation and vocabulary (just like English does in Britain, by the way): Western (Lleida province and Ebre river basin), Balearic (Balearic islands), Valencian.
To know how to pronounce vowels in Catalan, it is necessary to know the strong syllable of the word; a, e, and o change if they are in the strong syllable or a weak one. In other words, some vowels are reduced when unstressed.
stressed as the 'a' in "article" [ah], and unstressed 'a' in "sofa" [uh]
stressed as the 'e' in "pet" [eh], and unstressed 'e' in "open" [uh]
like 'ee' in "bee"
stressed as the 'o' in "hot" and "port" [oh], unstressed 'oo' in "zoo" [oo]
silent between 'g' and 'e/i' and between 'q' and 'e/i', elsewhere as 'u' in "flute" [oo]
Watch for the different accent signs in e and o: è sounds always as 'e' in "bed", é sounds as 'ea' in "bear", ò sounds as 'o' in "bond" and ó sounds like the 'o' in "score". Stress usually falls on the second-last syllable, unless the word ends in a consonant or consonant cluster or it has a written accent. Also, two dots over 'i' or 'u', 'ї' 'ü', indicate that the vowel sound should be pronounced as a separate syllable: Ensaїmada [ehn-SUH-ee-mah-duh] (sweet pastry), diürn [dee-oorn] (in day time).
like 'b' in "bed"
when followed by 'e' or 'i', like 'c' in "cell", otherwise like 'k' in "skull"
like 'c' in "cell"
like 'd' in "dog"
like 'f' in "fine"
when followed by 'e' or 'i', like 'j' in "james", otherwise like "g" in "go"; in clusters "gue" and "gui", the "u" is silent, unless it bears a diaeresis, as in "güe" and "güi"; in clusters gua,guo,güe,güi, the two first letters like 'Gu' in McGuire or 'w' in "wire"; notice the group -ig after a vowel sounds like "ch".
like 'j' as in "jean" (French pronunciation); or British English 's' in "pleasure"
like 'k' in "skull"
like 'l' in "love"
like 'lli' in "million" (palatalized l)
like 'm' in "mother"
like 'n' in "nice", and like 'n' in "anchor"
like the Spanish "ñ" as in Señor; or US English 'ny' in "canyon"; the y is soft sign.
like 'p' in "spoof"
in clusters "que" and "qui", the "u" is silent, unless it bears a diaeresis, as in "qüe" and "qüi"; in clusters qua,quo,qüe,qüi, the two first letters like 'Qu' in "quit"
like 'r' in "butter"; except at the beginning of a word or after a consonant
like 'r' in "row"; a strong thrilled Scottish r; at the beginning of a word, or after a consonant
like 'rr' in "mirror"; a strong thrilled Scottish r; identical to the sound above
like 's' in "sun" except when is between vowels, when it sounds like 'z' in "zone". Sometimes pronounced like a soft "sh".
like 'ss' in "hiss". Always goes between vowels.
like 't' in "stop"
pronouned like the 'ch' as in "chip"
like 'b' in "bed"
like 'w' in "weight" in most English words, like 'b' in "bed" in Germanic words or Catalanised words as ""wàter" (WC) that sounds BAH-tehr
like 'sh' in "short", except if is between two vowels, when sounds like the x as in "Axel"; notice the group -ix after a vowel sounds like "sh" as well.
like 'z' in "zone"
Hola. (OH-lah). For the formal equivalent of "hola" see good morning, good afternoon, good evening, below.
How are you?
Com estàs? (kohm uhs-TAHS?) (informal); Com està? (kohm uhs-TAH?) (formal)
Fine, thank you.
Molt bé, gràcies. (mohl behh, GRAH-syuhs)
What is your name?
Com et dius? (informal) (kohm uht THEE-oos?) / Com es diu? (formal) (kohm uhs THEE-oo?)
My name is ______ .
Em dic ______ . (uhm theek...)
Nice to meet you.
Molt de gust. (mohl thuh goos)
Sisplau./Si us plau. (sees-PLOW/see oos PLOW)
Gràcies. (GRAH-syuhs) OR Mercès. (muhr-SEHS)
De res. (duh rrehs)
Excuse me. (getting attention)
Excuse me. (begging pardon)
Ho sento. (oo SEHN-too) OR Em sap greu. (uhm sahp greh-oo)
Adéu. (uh-THEH-oo) OR Adéu-siau. (uh-THEH-oo-syah-oo)
I can't speak Catalan [well].
No parlo [bé] el català. (noh PAHR-loo [BEH] uhl kuh-tuH-LAH)
Podries dur-me una mica de _____? (POH-dryehs door-meh OO-nuh MEE-kah deh______?)
Excuse me, waiter? (getting attention of server)
Perdoni, cambrer? (pehr-DOH-nee, KAHM-brehr?)
Ja he acabat. (yah eh uh-KAH-baht)
It was delicious.
Estava deliciós. (ehs-TAH-bah deh-lee-SYOHS)
Please clear the plates.
Pots endur-te els plats. (pohts ehn-DOOR-teh ehls plahts)
The check, please.
El compte, si us plau. (ehl KOHMP-teh, see oos plow)
Do you serve alcohol?
Teniu alcohol? (...)
Is there table service?
Hi ha servei de taules? (...)
A beer/two beers, please.
Una cervesa/dues cerveses, si us plau. (...)
A glass of red/white wine, please.
Un got de vi negre/blanc, si us plau. (...)
A pint, please.
Una pinta de cervesa, si us plau. But most likely a pinta will not be understood, in Catalan speaking Spain it is better to ask for a quinto (KEEN-too) (20 cl), a mitjana (meet-JAH-nuh) (33 cl) or a canya (KA-nyuh) (tap beer).
A bottle, please.
Una ampolla, si us plau. (oonuh uhm-POH-lyuh sees-PLOW)
_____ (hard liquor) and _____ (mixer), please.
_____ amb _____, si us plau. (...)
club soda (...)
suc de taronja (...)
Do you have any bar snacks?
Teniu alguna cosa per picar? (...)
One more, please.
Un altre, si us plau. (...)
Another round, please.
Una altra ronda, si us plau. (...)
When is closing time?
A quina hora tanqueu? (...)
Do you have this in my size?
Teniu això en la meva talla? (...)
How much is this?
Quant costa això? (...)
That's too expensive.
És massa car. (...)
Would you take _____?
Agafaries _____? (...)
I can't afford it.
No puc pagar-ho. (...)
I don't want it.
No ho vull. (...)
You're cheating me.
M'estàs timant. (...)
I'm not interested.
No hi estic interessat. (...)
OK, I'll take it.
D'acord, me'l quedo. (...)
Can I have a bag?
Em pots donar una bossa? (...)
Do you ship (overseas)?
Feu enviaments (a l'estranger)? (...)
...pasta de dents. (...)
...raspallde dents. (...)
...pain reliever. (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen)
...medicina per el refredat. (...)
...medicina per l'estómac. (...)
...una fulla d'afeitar. (...)
...un paraigües. (...)
...crema protectora pel sol. (...)
...una postal. (...)
...paper per escriure. (...)
...un bolígraf. (...)
.. llibres en anglès. (...)
...revistes en anglès. (...)
...an English-language newspaper.
...diari en anglès. (...)
...an English-Catalan dictionary.
...diccionari anglès-català. (...)
I want to rent a car.
Vull llogar un cotxe. (...)
Can I get insurance?
Puc obtenir una assegurança? (...)
stop (on a street sign)
un sentit (...)
cediu el pas (...)
no aparcar (...)
límit de velocitat (...)
gas (petrol) station
I haven't done anything wrong.
No he fet res de dolent. (...)
It was a misunderstanding.
Ha estat un malentès. (...)
Where are you taking me?
On em porteu? (...)
Am I under arrest?
Estic arrestat? (...)
I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen.
Sóc un ciutadà Americà/Australià/Britànic/Canadenc. (...)
I want to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate.
Vull parlar amb l'ambaixada/el consulat Americà/Australià/Britànic/Canadenc. (...)
I want to talk to a lawyer.
Vull parlar amb un advocat. (...)
Can I just pay a fine now?
Puc simplement pagar una multa ara? (...)
DACCO Creative Commons Catalan-English Dictionary in català and English
This is a usable phrasebook. It explains pronunciation and the bare essentials of travel communication. An adventurous person could use it to get by, but please plunge forward and help it grow!