Spanish in Mallorca?

Hola…sooo, off to Mallorca on Monday…dying to use my Spanish, but have been informed that Mallorcan is spoken in Mallorca. Can anyone tell me if it’s similar to the courses on Ssi? Will I understand? Be understood?

Muchas gracias


It appears they are both spoken and are both official languages on the island. Go for it.

Great! Thank you so much, Margaret :+1:


The native language on Mallorca is Catalan. You may sometimes hear it referred to as Mallorquí, the name for the dialect of Catalan spoken on the island. Outside of Palma, most people speak Catalan at home and on the street. But of course everyone speaks Spanish and you’ll be able to practice it and be understood by everyone.


I’m sure I have heard that sometimes mallorquins will wind up speaking Castilian to other Catalan speakers, because the accent is so marked (with so many neutral vowels) that more western speakers might struggle to understand.

I think that’s over egging it somewhat. Mallorca has a hotchpotch of Spanish speakers from all over Spain and beyond. Possibly if you are somewhere really remote you might come across people who mix up Catalan and Spanish but that’d be unusual on the beaten track.

Sorry, that (mixing languages up) wasn’t what I meant to imply. In fact, my Catalan is better than my Spanish, but even in very strongly Catalan places like Vic or Girona or Ripoll I often find that people automatically want to speak Spanish to me instead.

Rather, I was thinking of when we had a student from Belfast staying with us (in southern England): he was studying French, which he spoke with a good French accent, but he spoke English with his own accent. Nothing wrong with that - but it was so strongly different from ours that at first my dad found him easier to understand in French than in English, even though they were both native English speakers.

In the same way, if you’re a native Catalan speaker, you still might find Mallorquí to be, let’s say, the Catalan equivalent of Geordie – as in, I know we’re speaking the same language, but unless and until I can get my ears tuned in I can hardly understand a word. (As far as I recall, the anecdote about Catalan speakers choosing to speak Spanish instead in les Illes came from my Catalan tutor, who was originally from the Pais Valencià - although it’s possible he was overstating things.)

A Catalan speaker from València or Lleida would say the phrase “the bee” as “l’abella”, pronounced “la-BEL-ya” [la’βelʲa] or “la-BEH-ya” [la’βeja]. Starting from there, I think most (but not all) of the following are recognisable:

Barcelona Catalan “l’abella” (luh-BEL-yuh [lə’βɛlʲə])
Spanish/Castilian “la abeja” (la a-BECH-a [la a’βeχa])
Occitan (Languedoc) “l’abelha” (la-BEL-yo [la’belʲɔ])
Southern French “l’abeille” (la-BEY-yuh [la’bejə])
Standard French “l’abeille” (la-BEY [la’bej])
Mallorquí “s’abella” (suh-BUH [sə’βə:]).

I’m not kidding - “suh-BUH” (with a long, stressed schwa, which tends to slightly worry phoneticians). Easier to stick to Castilian Spanish!

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Thanks so much. From the comments, it seems that Catalan is very different to ‘normal’ Spanish but most people in Mallorca are able to speak both. Hopefully I won’t be asking the question ‘do you speak English?’ too much!

Gracias :slightly_smiling_face:

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