‘It’s fashionable to speak badly in Spain’

The director of Spain's most important Spanish language teaching body, the Cervantes Institute, has bemoaned the current "limited vocabulary" of Spaniards, adding it has become "fashionable to speak badly".

'It's fashionable to speak badly in Spain'
Víctor García de la Concha complained that today's reduced vocabulary has led to "impoverished thought". Photo: Instituto Cervantes

Víctor García de la Concha made the comments to reporters after giving a presentation on Tuesday at the Centre of the National University of Distance Education (UNED) in Cáceres.

The 79-year-old is a former head of Royal Spanish Academy, the world's leading regulator of the Spanish language.

He now leads the Cervantes Institute, the world's largest organization for promoting the study and teaching of Spanish language and culture.

The linguist lauded Spanish as "an energy, an activity" as well as "something of a street language" that is "therefore always changing," according to national daily El Confidencial.  

"We cannot think only of the language as it was for Cervantes, Calderón or Jovellanos, since language is constantly making moves back and forth by itself and in relation to itself," he asserted.

But he followed up with a swipe at the current state of Spanish as it is spoken today.

"We use it poorly, because we use little vocabulary, which impoverishes thought and expression, and we do it because we care little about the nuances of construction – not just to be correct but to have a greater ability to express oneself," he complained.

He noted that the rich linguistic heritage of Spanish was not reflected by the use that some sectors of society made of it.

"In a sense we are in a none-too-favourable time because we live in a predominantly audiovisual civilization and because sometimes it becomes fashionable to speak badly."

This is not the first time that García de la Concha has grumbled about the current state of the Spanish language.

In a 2004 interview he said: "These days many young people can barely construct a simple sentence."

His views had not appreciably softened by 2012 when he told reporters, "There is a great deal of neglect in the manner of speaking; we are in a rather shabby period."

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The essential Catalan phrases you need in Catalonia

Even if you speak Spanish, if you're living in Catalonia, it's a good idea to learn some Catalan too. Here are some basic phrases you need to get by.

The essential Catalan phrases you need in Catalonia
Image: Photos_Marta/ Pixabay

While everyone in the bigger Catalan cities such as Barcelona or Tarragona will speak Spanish, it’s a good idea to learn some Catalan too.

Not only is this sure to win you some brownie points with the locals, but it will enrich your experience of living in the region and allow you to make new friends. This is particularly true when travelling to the smaller towns and villages in rural Catalonia too.


Greetings are a great way to start out practicing your Catalan. Your neighbours will be delighted and appreciate greetings in their local language. Because the phrases are short, they’re easy to remember and don’t invite long answers that you won’t be able to understand.

Bon dia – Good day

This phrase is used all the time in Catalonia, even more so than ‘Hola’. You would use it for greeting someone anytime up until the afternoon, after which you would say 'Bona tarda'. 

Encantat! Molt de gust! – Pleased to meet you.

Com estás? – How are you?

Bona nit – Good night

Greetings in Catalan. Image: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels


Being polite

Another very easy way to slip in some Catalan here and there is to use it in small polite phrases. Even if you don’t know the Catalan for the whole phrase, you could easily add please or thank you on the end.

Si us plau – Please

Moltes gràcies – Thank you very much

De res – You’re welcome

Saying thank you in Catalan. Image: Ka Young Seo / Pixabay 

Eating out

When you’re a bit more confident with your Catalan, eating out is the perfect time to put it all into practice. You don’t have to keep the conversation going a long time and there are particular useful phrases that you can memorise.  

Teniu una taula per dos? – Do you have a table for two?

La carta, si us plau – The menu please

El comte, si us plau – The bill please

No puc menjar… – I can’t eat…
This one may be useful if there’s something that you’re allergic to or can’t eat, such as gluten or dairy for example.

Eating out. Image: Ji-yeon Yun / Pixabay 


Like eating out, shopping is another perfect chance to put your Catalan out in the real world.

Quant costa això? – How much does that cost?

Tens un altre color? – Do you have a different colour?

Tens una talla més gran/petita? – Do you have a bigger/smaller size?

Pots ajudar-me? – Can you help me?


READ MORE: Ten colourful Catalan phrases you should learn right now