español, catalan, y castellano

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Vocabulary / Vocabulario Español-Inglés' started by kimmike, Jan 26, 2007.

  1. kimmike

    kimmike Senior Member

    Northern California
    American English - US

    My question may make me look ignorant, but I'm going to risk it anyway. Can someone explain the differences between español, catalan, and castellano? I try to read as many of the posts as I can to increase my vocabulary but I don't understand why people differentiate between these three. Are they three distinct languages or are catalan and castellano more like dialects of Spanish?


    (Forgive me if I haven't puntuated or capitalized correctly.)
  2. ziu Senior Member

    English UK
    "Español" and "castellano" are synonyms, they refer to the same language,
    what we call "Spanish" in English.

    Some Spanish speakers prefer to call their language "castellano" rather than "español" (do a search in the forum with those words and you'll probably find lots of threads on that subject).

    Catalan is a distinct Romance language, spoken in parts of eastern Spain, the Balearic Islands, Andorra and a few other places (more info here:
  3. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    San Francisco
    Am. English
    Do a search here and see what you get. There are several threads which discuss this topic.
  4. kimmike

    kimmike Senior Member

    Northern California
    American English - US
    Thanks for the clarification -- looks like I've got a little research to do. :)
  5. astur_pecha Senior Member

    Oviedo, Asturias
    Español España
    Hi I am from Spain. Castellano is the official language in all Spain, include Cataluña (Catalonia in English). In Spanish America this language is called Español, in english Spanish, but is the same language. The catalan language is only official in Cataluña and Andorra, but it is a spanish language. In the Balearic Island don´t speak the same catalan that catalonians speak. The balearic language is called Mallorquín. For politican reasons the catalonians nationalists say Valencia, Baleares and Rosellón, in the south of France, that they speak catalan, but this is not true. Valencian language and Baleric language is similar than catalan, but they are not the same language
  6. Mirlo

    Mirlo Senior Member

    Castellano, Panamá/ English-USA
    When I went to a private catholic school in Panamá I was told that I was learning "Castellano" which is "Español" and I'm sure that's the case with many other "compañeros foreros" from other countries.
  7. astur_pecha Senior Member

    Oviedo, Asturias
    Español España
    Yes sure, but in Spanish America is frequently that Castellano were called Español. Of course this is not a general rule, it is only more extended
  8. laureta_21 Member

    Colorado, USA
    Spanish, Spain
    Astur Pecha,

    Greeting from a Barcelonesa! Your opinion about the Catalan language, is just that, a political opinion. Please keep those off the forum, since people are here to learn and not to be endoctrinated.

  9. mazbook

    mazbook Senior Member

    Mazatlán, Sinaloa, México
    United States/México, English
    The Diccionario RAE prefers español as the name of the language.

    Saludos desde Mazatlán
  10. EtherealImages New Member

    American (although I live in Spain)
    Look, based on the fact that I'm an American with Spanish citizenship, I probably have the most objective opinion on this question. What does that mean? I can straight up tell you what the definitions are without getting into political/nationalistic/fascist (these all have slashes because they are interchanged based on the point of view) differences in definition.

    Castellano: This is "one" of the official languages in Spain. There are actually several official languages depending upon what region of Spain you are in. It is true that "castellano" is an official language in all of the regions. Regarding other official languages in Spain, the only one I am going to mention is Catalan because it forms part of the question asked at the beginning of this string. For people in the United States, this is "Spanish". This has to due with influence from Latin America. For a very general idea, Latin American Spanish is as different from Spain's Spanish as British is from American. Of course, within Latin America there are several extremely different ways of speaking "Spanish". This has nothing to do with the difference between the "official" languages in Spain, say Castellano or Catalan which nobody denies are separate languages. Not even the most fascist person in Spain says that they are the same language or that Catalan is a dialect of Spanish, they only argue that Catalan should not be an official language in Spain. In fact, it was outlawed by the fascist dictator Franco.

    In summary, the original question was: "What's the difference between castellano, español and catalan?"

    Castellano: a word used to designate Spanish in Spain.

    Español: Generally classified as Spanish in Latin America.

    Catalan: Another official language in some regions of the country Spain. There is lots of unresolved discussion of whether places like Valencia or the Balearic Islands speak another language or only a Catalan dialect. I'm not going to provide an opinion.

    Hope this helps clear things up.
  11. Mirlo

    Mirlo Senior Member

    Castellano, Panamá/ English-USA
    Here is what I found and like I said before I was teach "Castellano" in school:

    national language." Out of all countries and their "official national languages," only twenty-one of them have Spanish as it. The countries are as follows:

    1. Spain and all it islands 2. Guinea Equatorial in West Africa 3. Argentina 4. Bolivia 5. Chile 6. Colombia 7. Costa Rica 8. Cuba 9. Dominican Republic 10. Ecuador 11. El Salvador 12. Guatemala 13. Honduras 14. Mexico 15. Nicaragua 16. Panama, 17. Paraguay 18. Peru 19. Puerto Rico 20. Venezuela 21. Uruguay Thus, it is mainly in these countries that Spanish is spoken. You can also find Spanish speakers and writers in the Philippines and in Morocco. Although Spanish is not the official language of Belize, it is commonly spoken there. Spanish is also widely spoken in the US, and is actually the official language of New Mexico State. Spanish is spoken in Andorra, but it is important to distinguish between Castellano and Catalan. Andorra's official language is Catalan or Valenciano, not Castellano. Nevertheless, a small population, I am sure, speaks Castellano.
  12. Janice brugal

    Janice brugal Member

    Español and Castellano mean the same thing. Catalan is the language of Catalunya, a part of Spain were people speak other language. I´m from Barcelona and I speak catalan and spanish, most of the people do. Catalan is also the language of a country called Andorra and some parts of France.
  13. Juan Carlos Garling

    Juan Carlos Garling Senior Member

    Spanish Chile/Argentina
    Look it it this way.

    When the Romans conquered the Iberian Peninsula (present-day Spain and Portugal) they brought with them their language, Latin. From it a 'lingua franca' evolved with which legionaries and the native population could understand each other, and which eventually became regional 'romance' (from Roman)languages.

    In the Middle Ages there were several such regional 'romance' languages :

    castellano (Castilla)
    gallego (Galicia, akin to lusitano)
    lusitano (Portugal)
    aragonés (Aragon)
    leones (Leon)
    catalán (Cataluña)

    At the time when the Moors were finally ousted from Spain in the 15th century and the socalled Catholic Kings, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castilla and Leon, took control over the whole Peninsula, Castilian was established as the official language and so became present-day Spanish. Of the other vernacular 'romance' variants, catalan retained its vitality and is proudly considered by Catalonians as a language of its own.

    Though Portugal was for some time a part of Spain, it seceded eventually, retaining the lusitano variant which became present-day Portuguese.

    The differences are thefore :

    español = comprising all present-day variants of Spanish
    castellano = historically the variant spoken in Castilla, now applied to well-spoken Spanish
    catalán = with strong influence of the 'langue-d'oc', then spoken in Southern France across the Pyrinees; in its present-day form, a language evolved almost unaltered from the catalán variant of the old days.

    Basque is of couse not considered because this is not a 'romance' language and its origins are still a puzzle for investigators.

    There is still another 'romance' language that is still alive today, though spoken only by a minority and unfortunately at risk of disappearing. It is ladino (from Latin), actually the kind of Spanish spoken in Spain at the end of the 15th century. When the Sephardi Jews were evicted from Spain by the Catholic Kings in 1492, they took with them their language such as it was spoken at that time and in closed circles kept it up to our days. It is a beautiful language and a capsule of time.
  14. michin

    michin Senior Member

    What do they speak in Valencia and Balearic islands then?
  15. Alief Senior Member

    English US
    No wonder some people are afraid to learn to speak Spanish. The decendents of the 14th century don't want to let go of the word, "Castellano", thus making it seem as if Spanish is a very hard language to learn. While I have lots of respect for Castellano, why can't we just use the word Spanish or Español for the sake of simplicity. England and the United States use the word English, eventhough, there are slight variations.Sorry. Alfons
  16. wormy Senior Member

    Barcelona, España
    English, USA
    In Valencia they speak Valencià ("Valencian") and in the Balearic Islands they speak Mallorquí. Here in the capital of Catalonia, both Valencià and Mallorquí are considered to be variants of Catalán, however the residents of those areas may argue the validity of such a statement.
  17. EtherealImages New Member

    American (although I live in Spain)
    Juan Carlos gave a pretty good summary of the history. Especially relevant is the fact that the territories, with different languages, were "united" under one rule-

    Wormy's comment is quite to the point.

    Alief. My best response might be to consider that it's a respect issue, but it's not quite that easy to explain. If you have five official languages in Spain, why would you consider one to be "Spanish"? That's kind of the gist.

    Keep in mind that this is a highly sensitive issue due to the outlawing of several languages in Spain during the dictatorship where people were murdered if caught spoking anything other than Castilian and also the fact that several people in different regions would currently prefer to become independent from Spain. That political issue aside, there is a hot debate over several languages that are simply considered dialects (at least officially). Some have been mentioned in this thread , like Valenciá and Mallorquí. Asturias is another region in Spain fighting for recognition of it's lingual independence. There are also those in Navarra that want a distinction between their language and Basque. And the list goes on and on.

    The comment about Americans using English is relevant. I think it's extremely interesting that the "New World" including Latin America has no problem using the name of the language of their "conquistadores" despite the huge differences. Regardless, this is a cultural issue and keep in mind that the official languages in Spain are separate languages in Spain. This is not at all the same as the difference between English in Britain and the States or Spain and the various Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America or between Portugal and Brazil.

    The bilingual dictionaries here in Spain are, for example, Español-Inglés. Nevertheless, there are castellano-catalán dictionaries, not to mention castellano-euskera ones, etc.

    Hope that helps.
  18. anzisrb1986 Member

    Gringolandia aka EEUU
    USA English
    Si, espanol y castellano son iguales. En general, la gente de los paises de Espana y del Cono del Sur (Chile, Argentina, Uruguay y Paraguay) se dice castellano y los otros paises hispanos de America Latina se dice "espanol." Pero, no siempre es verdad ni el caso. Por ejemplo, en mi ultimo viaje a Mexico, el taxista me dijo que el habla "castellano" y no "espanol." Y el era mexicano nacido y criado.

    Entonces, catalan es un idioma distinto y es casi una mezclada de frances y espanol, casi. Sin duda es algo diferente. Tambien, en mi ultimo viaje a Mexico habia una familia catalana que hablaba en catalan. Apenas puedo entenderles para nada. Me parecia que hablaron en espanol pero no.

    Ojala que le ayude!

    Pura vida,
  19. terey6 New Member

    Spanish and Catalan
    Sé que hace tiempo que nadie comenta nada pero he leído este tema y sinceramente no entiendo lo que mucha gente dice.

    Para mí, llamar español al castellano es una equivocación. El castellano es la lengua que hablamos en España y también en los países latinoamericanos. Afirmo esto ya que hablamos la lengua que tuvo su origen en la región de Castilla (de ahí el nombre de castellano) y no la lengua que tuvo su origen en España, ya que en España hay más lenguas. Encontramos el català, el euskera, el gallego, el extremeño...

    En referencia a lo que he visto comentado antes de que el catalán que se habla en Cataluña (el que yo hablo) y el hablado en otras zonas (Valencia, islas Baleares...) son lenguas diferentes, en mi opinión son la misma lengua. Personalmente las diferencias entre los dialectos de cada zona son las mismas que hay entre una persona que habla el castellano de España y otra que habla el castellano de Argentina. Pueden parecer muy distintas a simple vista, pero sigue siendo la misma lengua y la gente que la comparte se entiende igual.

    Por ejemplo, si voy a Valencia o a Mallorca no tengo ninguna dificultad para entender el catalán que ellos hablan. Hay diferencias gramaticales y de pronunciación, pero la comprensión está presente si se conoce la lengua. El único catalán que yo (y creo que mucha gente también) soy incapaz de entender es el hablado en l'Alguer, en la isla de Sardegna. Para mi oído suena más italiano que no catalán, pero eso es cosa de la distancia entre las diferentes zonas.

    Y tal y como he leído en uno de los posts anteriores: no, el catalán no es una mezcla entre francés y castellano, es una lengua totalmente distinta e independiente. Claro que tiene semejanzas (y sobretodo con el castellano), pero eso se debe a la proximidad que han tenido estas lenguas a lo largo de la historia. Simplemente me gustaría que se entendieran estos conceptos.

    Espero que mi opinión te pueda servir de ayuda.
  20. Alief Senior Member

    English US
    Gracias ---terey6-- por la respuesta
  21. Reuben New Member

    American English
    Castellano is a Spanish Language, Catalan is a Spanish language, Leonese is a Spanish language, Galician is a Spanish Language. There are a few others, but the language imposed as the official language is Castellano since medieval time when Queen Isabella "La Catolica" united all of Spain(the different kingdoms). If you really think about it the Spanish(people of Spain) do no like to refer to Castillian as Spanish, because there are many Spanish languages.
    On another note, it makes more sense to say Castellano is the Spanish language spoken throughout latin america. Now when the language is altered it is still considered Castellano, but with a certain region/countries influence.
  22. Juan Carlos Garling

    Juan Carlos Garling Senior Member

    Spanish Chile/Argentina
    Good point which I share. The official language in Spain is Castilian = castellano and this is what is spoken in Latinamerica, brought by the conquistadores. Catalonian = catalán and Basque = euskara, as well as others, have a right to exist on its own.
  23. Blas de Lezo Member

    European Spanish
    1. Spanish language.
    2. Spaniard.

    1. Spanish language
    2. Castilian (someone from Castile)

    1. Catalan language (people in the spanish Autonomous Community of Catalonia). Both catalan and spanish are official in Catalonia.


    So, basically español and castellano are synonims, but academics and scholars prefer to use "español" in order to relate to the spanish language nowadays, and "castellano" to relate to the old spanish medieval dialect that evolved into spanish ("castellano medieval").

    In politics, those terms are wielded depending on your ideas (for example, basque nationalists prefer the term "castellano" to "español"), but anyway, the majority of people call it "español".
  24. Reuben New Member

    American English
    In essence, saying Castillian Spanish is Español is ambiguous. For truly it is only one of the languages of Spain, and not all. But like always, you have a group of linguists and scholars trying to add more than what is necessary, which causes people to be confused.
  25. elisavogt New Member

    Your response was awesome. Thanks for the help.

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