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Is it true that English-only is a problem?

SteveWalch

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Leon - Santiago (2011)
St Jean - Santiago (2012)
Oloron - Santiago (2015)
Seville - ? (2021)
I read on a different web site that Catalan and/or Spanish is a must on this route. I'm hoping to walk from Barcelona to Logrono this spring but I only have a small amount of Spanish and zero Catalan. Will I be OK? Thanks in advance!
 

rometimed

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(SJPdP: 2015, June2020!) (Eng Way: 2015)
Also say "Como?" and "Aqui?" and "que?" a lot and you will fit in with people that can sort of speak Spanish ;)
 

MikeyC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF - September 2016
CF - April May 2017
Shikoku - October 2017
Kumano Kodo - October 2017
CF - 2019
Spain has more than 80 million tourists annually so the hospitality industry is used to dealing with non Spanish speakers. Learn a few words of Spanish and there's always Google translate. You'll be fine.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
On the Catalan to the Aragonese this last autumn I didn't encounter much English but that may be because I tortured the locals with my Spanish first (though I did run into two who commanded me to speak English). You should be able to get by though, they know what you want.

If stuck in a really bad situation you might pull out your phone, fake dial it as you say "amigo con ingles?" (or better Spanish if you can remember it). Also, a tip learned on this forum is that you have a really good chance of finding an English speaker at a pharmacy.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2009), Camino Frances (2012), Via de la Plata (2013) and Camino del Norte planned for May, 2015
I read on a different web site that Catalan and/or Spanish is a must on this route. I'm hoping to walk from Barcelona to Logrono this spring but I only have a small amount of Spanish and zero Catalan. Will I be OK? Thanks in advance!
I haven't walked your planned route, but I have walked others where knowledge of Spanish is recommended. My knowledge of the language has grown from the proficiency of a new-born to something representing a toddler and yet, I have always found the Spanish to be tolerant, patient...and very good at charades! Mime can be your friend...I have fond memories of trying to explain that, whilst I have my debit card, the atm died before I could get the money. The funeral march by Chopin got the point across! Yes, learn basic vocab, (Duo Lingo etc) but be assured that in Spain, the people will come out to meet you more than halfway.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2009), Camino Frances (2012), Via de la Plata (2013) and Camino del Norte planned for May, 2015
On the Catalan to the Aragonese this last autumn I didn't encounter much English but that may be because I tortured the locals with my Spanish first (though I did run into two who commanded me to speak English). You should be able to get by though, they know what you want.

If stuck in a really bad situation you might pull out your phone, fake dial it as you say "amigo con ingles?" (or better Spanish if you can remember it). Also, a tip learned on this forum is that you have a really good chance of finding an English speaker at a pharmacy.
Hadn't thought about that, but you are absolutely right! Stop in at the farmacia!
 

mmmmartin

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santander-SdC bici '14
Plata bici '17
1/2 Plata bici '18
Frances a pie '18
(Porto a pie '19)
Google translate is a fabulous app, can be used offline. There is a conversation mode, it's good to learn that. Also work out ten phrases, use aforesaid Google translate to put them into Spanish, print out. Point to them if you must.
For example: one cup of black coffee please. One bed for one person for tonight please. One menu of the day please. How much is the bill?
There are 40m Spaniards and I've never met a bad one. They seem universally patient, kind and willing to cut you a bit of slack when you're struggling.
I've fallen in love with the place.
 

FSP

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(13)
Portuguese & Finisterre(16)
Norte & Muxia(18)
Olvidado&Salvador&Primitivo(20??)
I recall my first camino and while in a shop in SJPP. I used my best french to tell the shop keeper I only spoke a little french. He replied in english that was no problem. I then said I only speak very little spanish and again he said no problem. He then asked if I speak Basque? I said no, to which he replied with some humour " now we have a problem". A number of cominos later and having spent much post-camino time travelling around Eurpoe my advice is to spent some time before you leave to learn at least enough to be polite and ask for necessities and to apologize. Make good use of all the great technology at hand to fill in the blanks.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2009), Camino Frances (2012), Via de la Plata (2013) and Camino del Norte planned for May, 2015
I recall my first camino and while in a shop in SJPP. I used my best french to tell the shop keeper I only spoke a little french. He replied in english that was no problem. I then said I only speak very little spanish and again he said no problem. He then asked if I speak Basque? I said no, to which he replied with some humour " now we have a problem". A number of cominos later and having spent much post-camino time travelling around Eurpoe my advice is to spent some time before you leave to learn at least enough to be polite and ask for necessities and to apologize. Make good use of all the great technology at hand to fill in the blanks.
But when push comes to shove, a smile will smooth over all the cracks...
 

FooteK

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to SdC, 2013; Lourdes to SdC, 2015; ??? to SdC (2020)
"Lo siento, no hablo Espanol." Even I, who speak a bit fluently, didn't understand everything that was being said to me all the time. A puzzled look and a "Lo siento, no comprendo," ALWAYS worked. The people on and along the Camino are friendly and understanding. You will be fine.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
Everything said above is true, and the Spanish (and Catalans) are amazingly graceful and helpful, but having no language knowledge will be a problem on the Cami Catalan. There are few to no pilgrims, and qute possibly you will find yourself not saying anything to anyone for a fortnight.

Equip yourself as best as you can, beginning with politesse, then moving to numbers. Prepare a potted biography of yourself, as everyone is very social and wants to know about you, and be able to recite it. Get a good idea of food vocabulary, and how to find your accommodation. Engage with people and don't worry about your mistakes-- this will provide them with much amusement for days to come!

Without expending some effort, while you'll be ok, you will not have anywhere as much fun. Try to have fun.
 

SteveWalch

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Leon - Santiago (2011)
St Jean - Santiago (2012)
Oloron - Santiago (2015)
Seville - ? (2021)
Spain has more than 80 million tourists annually so the hospitality industry is used to dealing with non Spanish speakers. Learn a few words of Spanish and there's always Google translate. You'll be fine.
Yes, I have done fine on three other Caminos with my minimal Spanish and earnestness. This time I am asking specifically about the Catalan region, where I have heard this is more difficult.
 

Juspassinthrough

in our minds, we're vagabonds, you and I
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Inglés 2019
Leon-Sarria, June (2019)
Camino Aragonés (2023?)
Spain has many regional languages, Catalan, Basque, Galician, etc. The common language is Spanish. I learned how to say please and thank you in Basque and Galician which brought smiles and often broke the ice after which Spanish and some times English was spoken. As mentioned earlier, be kind, earnest and smile. I think you’ll do fine.
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
Everything said above is true, and the Spanish (and Catalans) are amazingly graceful and helpful, but having no language knowledge will be a problem on the Cami Catalan. There are few to no pilgrims, and qute possibly you will find yourself not saying anything to anyone for a fortnight.

Equip yourself as best as you can, beginning with politesse, then moving to numbers. Prepare a potted biography of yourself, as everyone is very social and wants to know about you, and be able to recite it. Get a good idea of food vocabulary, and how to find your accommodation. Engage with people and don't worry about your mistakes-- this will provide them with much amusement for days to come!

Without expending some effort, while you'll be ok, you will not have anywhere as much fun. Try to have fun.
Definately agree here, at least this was my experience on the Cami Catalan in 2015 but then again I do speak Spanish so did fine. We encountered only about 3 other pilgrims following the northern route through Huesca. I personally was glad that I had a buddy (@peregrina2000 :) with me.

I know what it is like to come across zero pilgrims during a 2 week period, this happened to me in 2014 on the Mozarabe from Granada. I was so happy that I spoke Spanish, I could at least stop in a cafe for a long break and chat with a cafe owner. I am fine on my own but it is nice to talk from time to time. At least that was one of my conclusions!
 

MikeyC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF - September 2016
CF - April May 2017
Shikoku - October 2017
Kumano Kodo - October 2017
CF - 2019
Yes, I have done fine on three other Caminos with my minimal Spanish and earnestness. This time I am asking specifically about the Catalan region, where I have heard this is more difficult.
Point taken. According to Wikipedia more than 95% of Catalans understand and can speak Spanish or Castilian as they call it. We visit the region most years and my rusty Spanish has usually sufficed.
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
Point taken. According to Wikipedia more than 95% of Catalans understand and can speak Spanish or Castilian as they call it. We visit the region most years and my rusty Spanish has usually sufficed.
Yes, in Cataluña you won't have any problem using Spanish.
But those with a very good command, could find a local reluctant to speak in Spanish.
In this case say "jo soc pelegri(or turista), no parlo Catala" and then the local will speak Spanish.
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
Spain has more than 80 million tourists annually so the hospitality industry is used to dealing with non Spanish speakers. Learn a few words of Spanish and there's always Google translate. You'll be fine.
I think, this view is rather blue-eyed if you are walking on a camino passing through the less touristic countryside, such as the Camino Catalan.
You should know sufficient spanish to ask for the key of the albergue, the direction or alternative accomodation.
A knowledge of catalan is not necessary as all children in Catalonia still learn spanish at school. But you cannot expect them to learn English as a foreign language. Especially French is more popular in Catalonia as it is just accross the border.

BC
Alexandra
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Frances
(2018) Portuguese
(2019) VdP Seville to Salamanca
(2020) VdP Salamanca to Santiago
In today's technical environment, I can remember more than a couple occasions where a conversation was held with me talking into my iPhone in English and showing the Spanish to the person I was talking to with them speaking Spanish into their phone and showing me the English. That said, it doesn't take more than a few phrases like please, thank you, what time is dinner, where's the bathroom, do you have my luggage (transport), do you have a stamp, and what time is breakfast will go a long way. As others have said, Spain has a long and splendid history of welcoming travelers. As long as you try to be polite, not be pushy or arrogant, and not expect any English, people will go out of their way to help you out.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I think this is where a poll of introverts vs. extroverts would be interesting. I am quite uncomfortable bumbling my way in a foreign language. I can do it, being respectful, etc., but it is contrary to my somewhat introvert nature. A more extroverted person may enjoy it more.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Frances
(2018) Portuguese
(2019) VdP Seville to Salamanca
(2020) VdP Salamanca to Santiago
I'm with you on that. I always feel embarrassed and stupid with my lack of fluent Spanish. On the other hand, I can have a great conversation with 4 year olds :) With few exceptions, the Spanish hospitality shows and I muddle through.
 

lindam

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, VDLP, Invierno, Portuguese, Madrid, Ingles, Fisterra, Muxia, Catalan/Aragones/Loyola Norte
I read on a different web site that Catalan and/or Spanish is a must on this route. I'm hoping to walk from Barcelona to Logrono this spring but I only have a small amount of Spanish and zero Catalan. Will I be OK? Thanks in advance!
I have walked this route twice. As an expat living in Barcelona, I have some very basic Catalan and a little Spanish I have acquired while walking Camino routes elsewhere in Spain. Certainly many, if not most, young people have some English. Other people without English are always very kind and patient. I have never found language to be a problem, sometimes having to gesture wildly or draw pictures! As an aside, it is quite remarkable the reception I get when trying to use even a few Catalan words. Once while in a small food shop along this Camino, my husband and I asked for a few items in Catalan. We actually had locals applauding us for trying to use some of their language. (Everyone speaks Spanish as a second language by the way.) Have no fears! It is a lovely Camino. You will enjoy yourself.
 

lindam

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, VDLP, Invierno, Portuguese, Madrid, Ingles, Fisterra, Muxia, Catalan/Aragones/Loyola Norte
"Lo siento, no hablo Espanol." Even I, who speak a bit fluently, didn't understand everything that was being said to me all the time. A puzzled look and a "Lo siento, no comprendo," ALWAYS worked. The people on and along the Camino are friendly and understanding. You will be fine.
Or better still on the Catalan route: "Ho sento, parlo anglès."
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
Yes, in Cataluña you won't have any problem using Spanish.
But those with a very good command, could find a local reluctant to speak in Spanish.
In this case say "jo soc pelegri(or turista), no parlo Catala" and then the local will speak Spanish.
A line which seemed to work for me was: Mi castellano is terribile, y mi catalan mucho mas terribile que mi castellano. This usually got a grin, and several times a burst of laughter. I didn't think it was that funny but a Catalan musician I know assures me that it is.

I found that some young people spoke English and a few were anxious to practise. However, in Catalonia I have always found my French far more useful than my English.
 

Gregory Graf

Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017
I used google translate for the few times a little more than ordering food from a menus was necessary. Download the Spanish file so you won’t need the internet
 

YMMV

Your Mileage May Vary
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Planning for April 2020)
11 years ago I travelled throughout central and South America for 9 months by motorcycle. I’m fluent in English and French. However, even with formal Spanish speaking night classes prior to the trip, not much would sink in. I blame advancing age. I did grasp some basics, and even with the wide differences in Spanish from one area to the next, I didn’t had much of a problem communicating (except when the officials would attempt to get a bribe, then I understood nothing).

As others have said here, keep an open mind, be respectful, smile, make an effort to speak their language, bring a generous spirit, be ready to laugh at yourself, and all will be fine.
 

JanelMcB

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (2018)
If it's abundantly clear that Spanish is not your first language, but you are clearly making your best attempt to speak to Spainards in Spanish, you will do just fine. Also, 80% of human communication is done through body language. Fear not.
 

Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
The first time I went to Spain I spoke no Spanish at all and got by with the aid of a dictionary, a big smile and a willingness to learn. The Spanish people are generally helpful and kind especially if you have a few words, even just the courtesy phrases. Having said that you get a lot more out of the journey if you can speak at least a little of the language so it's worth putting in an effort.
 

mmmmartin

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santander-SdC bici '14
Plata bici '17
1/2 Plata bici '18
Frances a pie '18
(Porto a pie '19)
Half the time on a Camino you may well be walking with someone who speaks a bit of the lingo anyway
 
Camino(s) past & future
"Del Norte 2020"
September 2018 CP /
Sept 2016 CF
Google translate is a fabulous app, can be used offline. There is a conversation mode, it's good to learn that. Also work out ten phrases, use aforesaid Google translate to put them into Spanish, print out. Point to them if you must.
For example: one cup of black coffee please. One bed for one person for tonight please. One menu of the day please. How much is the bill?
There are 40m Spaniards and I've never met a bad one. They seem universally patient, kind and willing to cut you a bit of slack when you're struggling.
I've fallen in love with the place.
You met all 40M? haha
 

alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
In rural Spain it is very helpful to speak basic Spanish. Not much English there...

I once attended a 1-month intensive Spanish course in Alicante (www.enforex.com ; highly recommended). It was VERY helpful. I can now have basic (literally) conversations with locals/Spanish pilgrims. But I can also ask for directions, places, book a reservation, and much much more. It is a relief, but most of all I feel so welcome and appreciated by the Spanish people for having taken the time to respect and work out some language skills. In addition, it is such a beautiful and meaningful language. EX:

We say, in Spanish: Buenos dias, buenas tardes, buenas noches (Good morning/day, good afternoon, good night) Notice Buenos/Buenas: The first is masculine, meaning that the day belongs to the men (work), but the afternoon (dinner/family life) and the night (of course) belong to the females. Such subtle meaning, not? (atleast that's what my Spanish native teachers told me).

And BTW, one of the first things I learned, if you have an argument with your woman, always remember to end it (the argument) by saying "Si, senora!". Peace restored in the house...
 
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Sixwheeler

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Arles Route (2013/2014 onwards)
Learn what you can; try using a dictionary before a conversation for key words; be prepared to act out conversations but above all else give it a try and don't worry about the mistakes. People will be flattered that you are trying to use their language, it honours them and my experience is that they will make every effort to meet you halfway and help you.
CAVEATS
1)
There will always be the odd one that won't
2)
At the end of the conversation try to summarise to make sure that both parties understand and that they both understand the same thing. At work once I booked transport with a French happier to collect a consignment in France and deliver it in UK, we were just signing off when he said something strange and on checking discovered he thought he was collecting in UK to deliver in France.
 

WalkingJane

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May and October 2015
(2015 October)
June 2018 Portuguese
Everything said above is true, and the Spanish (and Catalans) are amazingly graceful and helpful, but having no language knowledge will be a problem on the Cami Catalan. There are few to no pilgrims, and qute possibly you will find yourself not saying anything to anyone for a fortnight.

Equip yourself as best as you can, beginning with politesse, then moving to numbers. Prepare a potted biography of yourself, as everyone is very social and wants to know about you, and be able to recite it. Get a good idea of food vocabulary, and how to find your accommodation. Engage with people and don't worry about your mistakes-- this will provide them with much amusement for days to come!

Without expending some effort, while you'll be ok, you will not have anywhere as much fun. Try to have fun.
Oh, yes! Have fun with it. When trying to learn Portuguese, I discovered it didn't feel too bad to know I was a source of amusement as I struggled to speak, AND to understand the replies. Laughter is universal.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
It won't be that much of a problem in most of the more pilgrim-y/touristy establishments such as the albergues, restaurants, hotels etc -- but it might be more of a problem in the village life, little shops, bars, restaurants for locals not outsiders, and so on.

You should definitely learn at least the basic vocabulary for those situations, stuff like numbers, names of foodstuffs and drinks, please, thank you, good morning/afternoon/evening/night, hello, goodbye, a short list of basic verbs and nouns, and at least the basics of the present tense. And get a little pocket dictionary that'll fit in your trouser pocket.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2019, 2020)
Spain has more than 80 million tourists annually so the hospitality industry is used to dealing with non Spanish speakers. Learn a few words of Spanish and there's always Google translate. You'll be fine.
Google translate was my friend. The other thing is, I would find it surprising if one could walk from SJPP to SdC and not pick up a little Spanish. One learns how to ask for certain foods/drinks/bathroom and other basics fairly quickly.
 

Walking Lover

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CdS from Leon to Santiago, June 16, 2016 to June 30, 2016.
I read on a different web site that Catalan and/or Spanish is a must on this route. I'm hoping to walk from Barcelona to Logrono this spring but I only have a small amount of Spanish and zero Catalan. Will I be OK? Thanks in advance!
4 Caminos, never a problem
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
We say, in Spanish: Buenos dias, buenas tardes, buenas noches (Good morning/day, good afternoon, good night) Notice Buenos/Buenas: The first is masculine, meaning that the day belongs to the men (work), but the afternoon (dinner/family life) and the night (of course) belong to the females. Such subtle meaning, not? (atleast that's what my Spanish native teachers told me).
Nice explanation, and makes it easy to remember, but I'm not sure that's exactly why día is masculine.

A better explanation is the latin origin of the word diéus, which is masculine

Explanation here

 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
A better explanation is the latin origin of the word diéus, which is masculine
It's "dies" -- and the word in Latin was used sometimes as a masculine, sometimes as a feminine.

This resolved as a masculine word in some Romance languages, and a feminine in others. Usually masculine, but for example the word in Romanian became zi, which is a feminine ; and in old French, the word diemaine (meaning both Sunday, modern dimanche, and tomorrow, modern demain) could be either masculine or feminine.

And take note that the Credo, which is Late Latin, has Et resurrexit tertia die ; so is using it in the feminine.

And there's a traditional mountain festival of the French Alps called La Belle Dimanche, so by exception to modern French in the feminine.

But dies mostly became masculine in the later Romance forms, from being mostly used in masculine in the Latin.

But it was not a word of the typically feminine first declension of Latin, that the -a nouns in Spanish are derived from, but the fifth declension which had words of either grammatical gender (and IIRC not neuter), and that is the main reason why it doesn't follow the typical rule of feminine -a from Latin first declension in -a, masculine in -o from Latin second declension in -u.

Words of the fifth declension evolved fairly arbitrarily into their later Romance equivalents, because the whole of the declension had been scrapped in the ordinary language of the Late Latin period, and was preserved only in the more erudite and literary Classical forms.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
Nice explanation, and makes it easy to remember, but I'm not sure that's exactly why día is masculine.
When I read the jokes I wondered whether the teacher was of an advanced age or whether he tailors his jokes to the advanced age of his pupils 🤭 but then I realised that it helps to memorise that it is el dia and not la dia, despite the ending in -a, and that it is one of the exceptions to the rule that words ending in -a are grammatically feminine (native speakers don't see the world as populated by female and male inanimate objects and concepts, just inanimate objects and concepts).

Of course now I wonder why they say buenos dias - good days - and buenas noches - good nights - in Spanish, ie plural and not singular as in other European languages. It is after all buen camino and not buenos caminos.

@SteveWalch, learn these three expressions by heart, together with gracias which you may know anyway, and you're already mastering most of the essential Spanish that you may need. ☺
 
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alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
Of course now I wonder why they say buenos dias - good days - and buenas noches - good nights - in Spanish, ie plural and not singular as in other European languages. It is after all buen camino and not buenos caminos.
My Spanish teachers couldn't explain it. I asked. It is what it is, they said.
It is after all buen camino and not buenos caminos.
Sounds good to this Camino addict...:):cool:
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
My Spanish teachers couldn't explain it. I asked. It is what it is, they said.
Nobody seems to know -- interestingly, the same can occur in Portuguese.

I can think of one possible explanation, and I found two others.

1) It may be a rare case where the -(*)s ending of Latin Nominative singular persisted into the Romance (there are a couple of instances of this in French ; and Latin did persist as a mother tongue language in the Iberian peninsula for far longer than elsewhere in Europe)

2) One theory is that it's plural because you usually greet several people, so that you're effectively wishing several good days for several people

3) The other theory is that it's contracted from an old fuller expression where the plural is understandable (though this is actually similar to 2)

But it might be consequential of honorific plural usage.

Frankly it's just guesswork though, nobody knows.
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
2) One theory is that it's plural because you usually greet several people, so that you're effectively wishing several good days for several people.
Also makes sense greeting one person and wishing several good days (a long good period of time).
 

Penny Kingma

M.S. Can't Stop Me !
Camino(s) past & future
May 29th to July 4th 2016
SJPDP to Santiago
And many, many more I pray
I spent 34 days walking the Camino from SJDP to Santiago in 2016. I’m Canadian and only speak English. I truly wish I could masters languages, I’ve tried.
I had no problems what so ever. Our family has traveled to Iceland several times as well . I find if you truly want to convey a message you find a way.
In fact I once had a 30 minute conversation with a lovely Spanish lady while on the Camino. I came upon her picking wild flowers in front of her home. She was likely in her early 80s. She couldn’t speak English and I couldn’t speak Spanish. Yet we were laughing and conversing through hand gestures, expression and truly just the energy of wanting to engage. She could see my pain that day. I could see her love of life. That we shared. By the time we parted we hugged and were both in tears.
She relayed the importance of going to the service in the Cathedral in Santiago. She also said it was important to get to the sea and cleanse with the fresh water once I got there. It was so easy to understand her heart. She kept acting as she was scooping from the ground and running her hands over her hair and self. She shared her flowers with me as I left. One of those memories I hold in my ❤.
Also taking the time to do the same with fellow pilgrims from around the world.
Lovely memories of interacting without common knowledge of languages with fellow Pilgrims.
👣❤👣just speak from the Heart.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
I spent 34 days walking the Camino from SJDP to Santiago in 2016. I’m Canadian and only speak English. I truly wish I could masters languages, I’ve tried. I had no problems what so ever. Our family has traveled to Iceland several times as well.
There are huge differences as to foreign language competence, in particular in English, between Iceland and rural Catalonia which was the original question, and generally between smaller and larger European countries, and between places frequented more by international travellers including pilgrims like the Camino Frances and other places that see travellers less frequently like the Cami St Jaume.

There are not only differences in education systems and workforce capabilities (required for cross border trade, tourism etc) but in particular television and movie theatres. English language movies and series are dubbed in Spain but not in Iceland and other Nordic countries and in the Benelux, plus they produce less content themselves than larger countries so they rely more on broadcasting or showing content in English. That makes a considerable difference.
 
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JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Also makes sense greeting one person and wishing several good days (a long good period of time).
Linguistically and grammatically not really --but as I said, nobody really knows, and all we have is more or less plausible guesswork.

The origin of the -s endings in these greetings appears to predate the origin of written Spanish & Portuguese.

(personally I've done enough Late Latin to be, personally, attracted to my own theory of the original Latin Nominative ending -(a/u)s having survived as an isolate in these greetings, but that is total speculation that I would be incapable of backing up with any evidence whatsoever ; except the curious anomaly of it, and the fact that it exists also in Portuguese, and the fact that the final form of Latin as a mother tongue in Iberia was somewhat heavily dialectised and in several ways unlike what is usually considered as Mediaeval Latin)

(I took it upon myself once to translate, informally, a short 3-paragraph extract from a 9th Century text from Iberian Late Latin into English, and despite the efforts of the author to keep within certain basic grammatical norms, it was like trying to render a foreign language, even though at the same time it was quite clearly Latin -- it is my opinion that the Latin Nominative in -(a/u)s survived for longer in Iberia than elsewhere, from Latin having survived there as a mother tongue longer than elsewhere -- well, except there's also Sardinia, where to this day, the dialect retains the basics of the Latin case system rather than the simpler Romance case system of some other dialects and languages)
 
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Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
There are huge differences as to foreign language competence, in particular in English, between Iceland and rural Catalonia which was the original question, and generally between smaller and larger European countries, and between places frequented more by international travellers including pilgrims like the Camino Frances and other places that see travellers less frequently like the Cami St Jaume.

There are not only differences in education systems and workforce capabilities (required for cross border trade, tourism etc) but in particular television and movie theatres. English language movies and series are dubbed in Spain but not in Iceland and other Nordic countries and in the Benelux, plus they produce less content themselves than larger countries so they rely more on broadcasting or showing content in English. That makes a considerable difference.
As a failed speaker of Icelandic (two extensive trips in 1978 and 1979-- að leita að konunni/ cherchez la femme) I learned that that my Icelandic contacts said that they kept the language purposely difficult so that no foreigners could learn it, and they spoke English (perfectly, to my mind) for relaxation. Until recently, life in rural Spain was such as to not only preserve languages such as Catalan and Euzkadi and Gallego, but also Leonese and Asturian-- even along the Camino Francese, the casual observer will note that hola has about five different pronunciations.

This is just part of the human diversity of Spanish life which makes it an interesting place for travellers., as does the sense of hospitality which has not yet disappeared. In the meantime, we can pick up a few words to be civil and to get along, and look upon it as an opportunity, rather than a burden.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
The other intriguing question is of course: when does tarde(s) start and end?

And good old buenos dias does not seem to work in the same way as bonjour and Guten Tag. Buenos dias seems to be an early morning thing in our camino experience while Bonjour and GT can be used all day long. And we were thrilled to discover that people say just buenas in a shop or bar. I don't remember that they mention this at the Instituto Cervantes course.

There is ¡hola!, of course. You should definitely add this to your active vocabulary, @SteveWalch. ☺
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
Does it exist in Portuguese? I've always heard and read "bom dia," "boa tarde," and "bom noite," which would be singular, I think?
Yes all of them are singular (boa noite).
Also is singular in Catalán .
In Galego some people say it in singular and other in plural. I think that the plural form could come from Castilian influence.
In Asturiano is plural.
These are the latin languages in the peninsula.
 

lindam

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, VDLP, Invierno, Portuguese, Madrid, Ingles, Fisterra, Muxia, Catalan/Aragones/Loyola Norte
Kathar1na said: The other intriguing question is of course: when does tarde(s) start and end?

Yes, this was interesting to me, moving from Canada to Barcelona. In Canada, afternoon is anytime after 12:00 (lunchtime). Here in Barcelona bona tarda is not used until after siesta (i.e., after 4:00 or 4:30 in the afternoon). Similarly, when arranging or planning an appointment or event, if it is to take place in the morning that can mean any time up until 2:00 pm. Adding to my initial confusion when I first arrived (and, of course all the locals would speak to me in Spanish rather than Catalan), is the fact that the word mañana means both morning and tomorrow. Took me a while to figure that one out! Luckily, to make things easier for me, there are two different words used in Catalan (demà for tomorrow and matí for morning).
 
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Penny Kingma

M.S. Can't Stop Me !
Camino(s) past & future
May 29th to July 4th 2016
SJPDP to Santiago
And many, many more I pray
There are huge differences as to foreign language competence, in particular in English, between Iceland and rural Catalonia which was the original question, and generally between smaller and larger European countries, and between places frequented more by international travellers including pilgrims like the Camino Frances and other places that see travellers less frequently like the Cami St Jaume.

There are not only differences in education systems and workforce capabilities (required for cross border trade, tourism etc) but in particular television and movie theatres. English language movies and series are dubbed in Spain but not in Iceland and other Nordic countries and in the Benelux, plus they produce less content themselves than larger countries so they rely more on broadcasting or showing content in English. That makes a considerable difference.
There are huge differences as to foreign language competence, in particular in English, between Iceland and rural Catalonia which was the original question, and generally between smaller and larger European countries, and between places frequented more by international travellers including pilgrims like the Camino Frances and other places that see travellers less frequently like the Cami St Jaume.

There are not only differences in education systems and workforce capabilities (required for cross border trade, tourism etc) but in particular television and movie theatres. English language movies and series are dubbed in Spain but not in Iceland and other Nordic countries and in the Benelux, plus they produce less content themselves than larger countries so they rely more on broadcasting or showing content in English. That makes a considerable difference.
I’m sorry , I need to realize with my Lyme and M.S. head I don’t always come off clearly. I also realize I didn’t finish my thoughts on Iceland. I didn’t mean by saying linguistics were the same. I just meant to say that when I travel I’M the same. I desperately wish I could learn languages, unfortunately those abilities may never return. What does remain is my love to converse. To learn about others whether languages are common or not.
What I was trying to relay was with a common patience, compassion and want to converse a way can always be found. ❤👣❤😉😊
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
I'm know we are going way beyond what the pilgrim needs to know in the way of elementary vocabulary but I just realised that I've never thought much about all this 🙃. If I'm not mistaken, buenas noches is actually (or also?) a greeting, in the same way as buenas tardes, and unlike good night, gute Nacht, bonne nuit, which are used as a farewell.

The French, of course, have bonjour/bonsoir and bonne journée/bonne soirée, so it's easy to know what's what. ☺
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
What I was trying to relay was with a common patience, compassion and want to converse a way can always be found.
I agree. Situations like the one you described when you find that you can communicate with someone despite knowing next to nothing of each other's languages are delightful, and I have similar uplifting memories. Is it coincidence that it's been usually older women and small children with whom I "talked" in this way 🤭?

However, since I've travelled more than once to Spain, I got interested in acquiring a bit more knowledge and I find that it's really worth it. I can now talk about things that I did in the past or that happened in the past - a whole new world of communication options has opened up for me 🤗. I really enjoy it, it gives me more of a feeling of actually walking in Spain and not walking in an expats bubble.
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
I'm know we are going way beyond what the pilgrim needs to know in the way of elementary vocabulary but I just realised that I've never thought much about all this 🙃. If I'm not mistaken, buenas noches is actually (or also?) a greeting, in the same way as buenas tardes, and unlike good night, gute Nacht, bonne nuit, which are used as a farewell.

The French, of course, have bonjour/bonsoir and bonne journée/bonne soirée, so it's easy to know what's what. ☺
Yes, "Buenas noches" is a greeting but sometimes is also a farewell particularly in conversations on Internet.
Lately it is in fashion to say "Buen dia" as farewell.
 

Anthony Rocco

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Ignaciano, Aragones, Arle, Tolosana, Salvador, Primitivo, Madrid, Olvidado/Invierno (2020)
I read on a different web site that Catalan and/or Spanish is a must on this route. I'm hoping to walk from Barcelona to Logrono this spring but I only have a small amount of Spanish and zero Catalan. Will I be OK? Thanks in advance!
I chuckled when I read your posting. Why? Because when we walked from Logrono to Barcelona three years ago, we did need Spanish for some of the villages between Logrono and Lleida (Lerida). It was quite an adventure, one so unforgettable that we continue to talk about it even though we have walked other caminos every year since.

Can you get by without Spanish? Yes, you can, in my view. It would be harder because in some places you are really in the hands of villagers. But the trick is to look for someone under 30. So many speak English that you will be fine. Learn some courtesy expressions to break the ice and show respect. This goes a long way. And ALWAYS say you are peregrino. That goes even further.

When you get to Alfaro, go to the ayuntamiento where you will meet Camino. Yep, that's her name. She is delightful. She gave us a key to a house that is just for peregrinos. No cost.

So why did I chuckle? We arrived in Verdu, checked in at what proved to be one of our all-time favorite albergues. It is in the home where St Peter Claver grew up, the apostle to the slaves whose tomb I had visited years earlier in Cartagena, Columbia, where he evangelized and served the poor. After we checked in, we went to a very bustling bar nearby. I kept trying to get the server's attention calling to him in Spanish. I got very dirty looks. Finally, I went to him and asked why we weren't being waited on. His reply: In Catalunya, especially in the villages, it's either Catalan or English. And NEVER speak Spanish in a loud voice around locals. I noted that we were peregrinos walking to Montserrat and beyond. He smiled, and said, "Count how many Spanish flags you see along the way." He was right. We saw almost none during our entire walk in Catalunya.
 

Margreet

WalkingtheWalk
Camino(s) past & future
October, 2018 starting at O Cebreiro
I read on a different web site that Catalan and/or Spanish is a must on this route. I'm hoping to walk from Barcelona to Logrono this spring but I only have a small amount of Spanish and zero Catalan. Will I be OK? Thanks in advance!
"Donde estoy?" (Where am I?) is a phrase I used and then I point to my map. I needed to google translate it and then learn it since I needed it quite a bit 😂
Introvert here... I know a few languages, but not Spanish or any of the other languages spoken in Spain.
I found that people are always more friendly if you at least try to speak their language. While I was nursing a café con leche I would observe when people only spoke English. It came across as quite arrogant in my eyes. Maybe they were just ignorant, but I think it's polite to acknowledge that you are the visitor and the guest.

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SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
The other intriguing question is of course: when does tarde(s) start and end?...
Easy, I learned that many years ago: Buenas Dias before you had lunch, Buenas Tardes after Lunch and before dinner, Buenas Noches after dinner. I learned that many years ago when neighbours would pity me because I still haven't had lunch at 18:00 ;-) just because I still used Buen Dias ;-)
BC SY
 

Mick McQueen

https://www.facebook.com/groups/
Camino(s) past & future
I am escorting the Roll of Honour (Afghanistan) on Camino France on 20 May from SJPDP
The Roll of Honour details the 41 young Australians who died on Active Service in Afghanistan. In the centenary of the ANZAC’s, the Roll of Honour will be escorted to 41 prominent places and events around the World, laying 41 Poppies at each location.
I read on a different web site that Catalan and/or Spanish is a must on this route. I'm hoping to walk from Barcelona to Logrono this spring but I only have a small amount of Spanish and zero Catalan. Will I be OK? Thanks in advance!
I thought that this was the biggest thrill on my Camino and culminated in a group of us at the Santiago de Compostela with 12 people mostly different languages all understanding each other and a deaf lady who walked the Norte by herself, inspirational and courage made my heart skip a beat, all smart phones have language and GPS you will be right mate just go for it 👍
 

MichelleElynHogan

Veteran Member
I did speed read thru the responses thus far and though it has been touched on, here is something that is so essential: When you make your best effort to speak Spanish in Spain, they will either let you do what you can or stop and say, I speak English. Then you can say, "Yo soy de Finlandia, con acento inglés." Laugh as hard as you can and then jump into English and apologize for your terrible humour.

Making an effort to speak Spanish will go a very long way. On the Camino, you get to do this many times, each day.

Now, seriously, some good suggestions have been given. But there is room for expansion of good ideas. Making a list of phrases in English and Spanish, (French too maybe?), is a good idea. And keep them simple, ie.

Cafe con leche, por favor -> Coffee with milk, please.
Una cama, por, favor (The most important sentence you will ever need) -> One bed, please.
Agua, por favor -> Water, please
Where is the bus station? -> Donde esta la estación del bus (or) le tren?

"Donde esta," Is an essential phrase to find what you need. A few minutes with GoogleTranslate will help build the list. The only other phrase needed is, "Muchas Gracias," pronounced, moo-chas gra-thee-as (Castilian - picky which "s's" they pronounce as an "s." The rest they use the "th," sound.)

For quick, easy training, and free, I have been studying on Duolingo.
 

Delphinoula

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C. PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C.Franconia 2019 C.Algeciras Sevillia 2019
Swabian C. (2020)
I can relate maybe not in Spain, but I literally know 7 words in Turkish. Hello thank you beautiful bread Mr. , yes and totally useless butterfly. That’s all I needed for traveling off the beaten paths. I made friends with a lady and her child.. I missed my bus stop. She got it that I needed to catch another bus there. She said something ..Inglees... then the bus driver under many comments turned around went back and delivered me safe at my stop. So in Spain with you having so similar words in English no worries.

Butterfly in Turkish is kelebek and in Spanish mariposa.🥳
 

Tony Lenton

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Ingles (2018)
Camino Frances ( from Ponferrada 2019)
Learn what you can of Spanish, carry a small Spanish/? Dictionary, be kind and patient, smile a lot and be willing to laugh at yourself and you will be surprised how well you get along. Good advice in any country I think.
Don’t worry too much. The problem with any phrasebook/ dictionary is that you won’t understand the answer, even if you put the question in a way the local person can understand.
Sign language, a smile and a few key words will get you by.
in my experience Spanish/ Catalan people are very hospitable and helpful.
Youll be fine.
 

drahcir

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Nov/Dec 2019
I read on a different web site that Catalan and/or Spanish is a must on this route. I'm hoping to walk from Barcelona to Logrono this spring but I only have a small amount of Spanish and zero Catalan. Will I be OK? Thanks in advance!
Surely the problem is not "English-only" but rather "English"? According to the poll at this site, more than 60% of members(hope not visitors!) are from english first language territory!!
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Having read through the replies, I would suggest learning those few critical expressions in Catalan. It’ll be fun and respectful at the same time.
 

Shinobi42

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de la Costa from Irun to Nueva 2018
Camino de la Costa from Nueva to Muxia (2020)
I read on a different web site that Catalan and/or Spanish is a must on this route.
I would assume that it is the same as in Euskal Herria (Basque Country). I tried often the "stupid face" navigation. Just go to a crowded place, stand still and make a stupid face while having the shell visible on your backpack. Very soon someone will point in the right direction with the word "Camino!".
 

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