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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Named: Spanish word of the year for 2013

Spain's Fundéu BBVA language association named its Spanish word of the year on Monday. The winner is a mysterious word which arrived in the country via South America.

Named: Spanish word of the year for 2013
The Spanish word of the year is neither 'el twerking' nor 'wasapear'. File photo: daquella manera/Flickr

Over the course of the last 12 months, Spain has seen a steady influx of new vocabulary, with words like 'autofoto' (selfie) and 'expapa' (or ex-Pope) entering the lexicon.

Now the Fundéu BBVA — a non-profit group that promotes the proper use of the Spanish language by the country's media — has sifted through these new words and chosen their winning word for 2013: 'escrache'.

The term escrache refers to a targeted demonstration outside the home or workplace of a public figure. It gained currency in Spain when the county's anti-evictions lobby, the PAH, used these tactics to protest against the country's home evictions laws.

The collapse of a property boom in 2008 and subsequent recession have driven Spain's unemployment rate over 26 percent, leaving many unable to pay mortgages on houses that have lost much of their value.

The PAH have campaigned heavily to try and ensure that people evicted from their homes have their bank debts cleared.

"We wanted a word which had a certain linguistic interest, whether it was because of its origin or who it's formed, and (a word) which has been widely used in recent months," said Fundéu BBVA Chairman Joaquín Muller in a statement. 

The noun escrache doesn't appear in Spain's official RAE dictionary although the verb 'escrachar' does. The word is listed as a colloquial term from the Uruguay and Argentina meaning to 'destroy' or 'crush', or 'to photograph someone'.

The word's origins are unclear with some people suggesting it comes from the Italian 'schiacciare' (to squash, or mash) while others say it comes from the English word 'to scratch'.

Other words the Fundéu BBVA considered for the top word of the year include 'copago' — or joint payment for medicines — and 'bosón', for the Higgs boson particle.

The Fundéu BBVA consists of journalists, linguists, and translators, among others. It works together with Spanish news agency Efe, the BBVA bank, and Spanish royal language body, the Real  Academia Española to promote proper language use in Spain.

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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

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

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 

Shopping

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

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