What’s in a Name?


Prada de Conflent (Prades) is also famous for being the town which sheltered Pau Casals the world famous cellist who was also known as Pablo Casals. Many Catalan people were obliged to use the Spanish version of their names and it is important to realise that this name changing is political and not just a personal choice.

Is the language we know as Spanish, the only Spanish language?  Or is it better called Castillian in order to differentiate it from Catalan and Galician or Basque?   It is actually the language of Castille even though it has come to be the language spoken all over Spain.

If I write Catalunya I am using the Catalan spelling. If I write Cataluña I am using the Spanish spelling.

My partner’s name is Josep shortened to Pep. But in Spanish this would be Jose or Pepe.  He is used to it and doesn’t react but I notice when friends in the UK call him Pepe.

There are a lot of possible mistakes if you don’t understand the background and the history.

Of course it is possible to be over sensitive – I no longer get upset if someone calls me English but I do give a gentle reminder that Scotland is part of the UK not a subsection of England.  But sometimes I don’t bother.I came to live here with a very minimal knowledge about the history of Catalunya.  I make many mistakes and put my foot in it all the time, but it is wonderful to learn about what has happened here, how people feel about their country and language and to find new ways to expand my understanding.

It is worth knowing if you visit this region that Catalan people do not consider themselves Spanish. The language of Catalunya is Catalan and that the language commonly known as Spanish is actually Castilian or Castellano.  Spain has four official languages – Castellano, Català, Gallego(Galician) and Euskera(Basque) You can see it is a bit complicated!To return to Pau Casals – he refused to return to Catalunya while Franco was in power and this sadly meant he never lived to see the return of democracy nor was able to come back in his lifetime.

I found this wonderful recording of his music.

And here he is playing El Cant dels Ocells (the song of the birds) a popular Catalan song

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3 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. I so love reading your blog posts. Although I have never been to Catalunya, I read a book years ago that was set there. I don’t recall the title but the descriptions of the food, the land and, as you have mentioned, the political ins and outs with Spain remain in my memory.

  2. thanks so much for your support – I can’t tell you how much pleasure it gives me to be writing and having others read and enjoy it. I always wanted to write but I realise now that the most important part is having someone else READ it! Perhaps one day you will visit Catalunya – it is a very special place. K x

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