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Catalan: Menorca’s Mother Tongue

When you visit this Mediterranean island, you may hear locals conversing in an unfamiliar language. Catalan, the co-official language of Menorca (along with Castilian and Menorquian), is alive and well here – and proof that although Menorca may belong to Spain, its culture is entirely its own.

The Catalan flag

An Ancient Tongue

Catalan is thought to have evolved from Vulgar Latin during the ninth century in the eastern Pyrenees Mountains, the region of north-eastern Spain that is now Catalonia. It was widely spoken in the Late Middle Ages, when it was the dominant spoken and literary language of the Crown of Aragon. But when Aragon was unified with the other territories of Spain, Catalan’s fortunes fell.

Throughout its long history, Catalan has been banned not once, but twice. In the seventeenth century, it was prohibited when Spain ceded Northern Catalonia to France. It experienced something of a revival in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, in part thanks to the work of linguist Francesc de Borja Moll i Casasnovas. However, the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco banned the tongue once more during his regime from 1939 t0 1975. After the Spanish transition to democracy in the 1970s and 1980s, it was recognised as an official language, and is now here to stay.

Catalan Today

Today, Catalan is spoken by over 9 million people – mostly in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Andorra. It is the co-official language of Menorca, along with Castilian Spanish and Menorquian. If you’re visiting the island with only Castilian Spanish experience, you will still be able to communicate with locals, who are by and large bilingual.

To truly immerse yourself in the Balearic experience, why not rent your own villa or apartment? With options ranging from quiet countryside to the town centre, our properties give you the chance to sample the life of a Menorcan native.


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