Language lovers amazed by interactive map

A fascinating language map lets readers compare words across 30 different European languages at the same time. See if you can find out what words are unique to Spain.

Language lovers amazed by interactive map
Screengrab of the European word translator created by data wiz James Trimble

When is a banana not a banana? When you are in Spain apparently.

Almost everywhere else in Europe, the word is similar to English: In Dutch, it's "banaan", and in Iceland the word is "banani" while the Hungarians say "banán".

But in Spain the usual name for the fruit is "plátano", although banana is sometimes used for the sweeter varieties of the fruit.

This is just one of the examples of what can be done with the European word translator map.

Click here to try out the European word translator map for yourself (external link).

Part of the UK Data Explorer series, the map allows people to enter an English word and see its translation into everything from Maltese to Finnish.

Fuelled by Google translate, the map is a goldmine of linguistic information giving an idea of Europe's cultural, linguistic and historical fault lines.

Spain's Arabic past, for instance, means some Spanish words stand out like a sore thumb on the linguistic landscape.

In Spain, for example, the word for "oil" is "aceite" while almost everywhere else it's closer to the English word. The Spanish for meatball — "albóndiga", from the Arabic for "the ball" — is another word is only seen on the Iberian Peninsula.

Then there are other words that Spain has given to the English language and the rest of the Europe. Type in "conquistador" or "macho" and you'll see how far these Spanish words have travelled.

Some words, however, have travelled in the opposite direction. The English words "club", meaning an association, is now used everywhere, including across Spain.

For Spain-based users of the map, there's another advantage: the map includes translations into the Basque, Catalan and Galician languages too.

In the case of Basque, it also shows just how different the language is from the rest of Europe, where Indo-European roots predominate.

The map is not perfect. Creator James Trimble points out that Google Translate is not always reliable. Only one translation is given, which means alternative meanings can be lost.

In some cases the Google tool can't find a translation and the English word is given instead.

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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