Will You Take Me to Barcelona?
Barcelona. The name of this Catalunian city trips easily off the American tongue. Phonetically spelled, multi-sylolabic but simple, it's a lovely wordl. Andrew and I like it so much, we began using it just to hear it. One Saturday when a telemarketer called him, he ignored the salesman's inquiry about long distance service and said:

"Will you take me to Barcelona?"

The salesman, taken aback, took a moment to say, "Ah, no."

"Well if you aren't going to take me to Barcelona, then I can't talk to you," Andrew replied, and hung up.

Art at every turn in Barcelona.

New Construction next to old at the Familia Segurda

I should say that we believe we are completely within our rights to enact performance art to an audience of one -- ourselves -- upon telemarketeres. We didn't ask them to call us. They took the horrible job. They have to take whatever we want to disk out to them.

But I digress.

Visit Barcelona and you quickly learn of hte lovely word's deception. First, the locals pronounce it "Barthelona." Equally often they call it Barco, an ancient form of the name. And, although this is Spain, the locals aren't speaking Spanish. Barcelona, the capital of Catalunya, clings to its native "language" llike Quebec does to French. Visit Catalunya and be prepared to deal with a hybrid of Spanish, French, Italian and probably some dead languages: Catalan.

Our friend Antonia, a vagabond American who we met years ago in Los Angeles at Arrays, Inc., moved to Barcelona two years ago to teach English to locals who she thought would be Spanish speakers. She says that some of her younger students must use a Catalan/Castilian (Spanish) dictionary in her classes in order to understand the Spanish she uses to teach them English.

Antonia

The many towers of the Segurda Familia

Prior to our trip to Barcelona to visit Antonia, I invested in a Spanish language book/tape package and some software. I was woefully neglligent about studying it, so failed to increase my SoCal and NYC street Spanish by a noticabole amount before our departure. As it turned out, the Spanish I knew was enough to handle menus and signs, and where that didn't work I could improvise with English, German, and French.

The language melange reached its wonderful apex for us when a German woman approached us in a supermarket and asked if I spoke any German. I was able to tell her "a little" in coloquial German and understand that she wanted an explanation of a sign on a display of bottled water. Antonia was able to understand the sign, which, in Catalan, was promoting a rewards point system for shoppers who possessed a discount card. Somehow we managed to convey this concept to the woman, who then wondered if she needed such a card as she was staying in Spain for a month, although she spoke no Spanish, or, obviously, Catalan. Brave Soul.

Alas, I did not photograph the earstwhile German shopper in Girona. But I did take plenty of other pictures. So carry on, and follow our adventures in European languages in the north east corner of Spain.

Take me to Barcelona

Copyright 2001 Mia's Mar Vista News. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction by permission only.