Back from holiday with some Spanglish


I’m back and ready to post! It’s not really fair to call this Spanglish, a mix of English and Spanish that makes me think of East Los Angeles, but ‘Cataglish’ (Catalan and English) sounds terrible. Anyhoo, this was spotted in Barcelona, a city that I can safely say is very easy to get around in in Spanish, Catalan, English and just plain pointing at things.

But this is just funny because the Italian is apparently good and the rest goes ‘de mal en peor’ (‘from bad to worse’). The French has spelling mistakes, as it should be ‘français’ (odd, since the Catalans use the ‘ç’, as in ‘Barça’, short for ‘Barcelona’). The European French as opposed to French Canadians would argue it should be ‘nous parlons français’ (‘we speak French’) as opposed to the impersonal ‘on’ (‘one speaks French’), which almost looked familiar to me.

And I have a theory about the ‘speak English’, which is giving an order to speak English. The Spanish, and maybe the Catalans, remove the personal pronoun in front of a verb when they speak. The idea is that when reading the verb, you know who’s talking. This is true in Spanish, but not in English, while in French it’s not allowed. Hence, the commanding tone. But my theory doesn’t work with the rest, which is why I posted this mess in the first place.

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7 Responses to “Back from holiday with some Spanglish”

  1. Branko Collin says:

    Fracas with the Franks of Spain. One would almost forget Barcelona was founded as Faventia by Romans who refused to go home. Domi ite, was it? Or Domus eunt est? I forget…

  2. Mr. M says:

    I have another theory; they just want to say they speak all of those languages, but they really just want you to speak English 😉

  3. Louis Bryan says:

    Actually, “On parle français” sounds familiar to me, too, because that’s the phrasing routinely used in the United States.

  4. Ludolph says:

    ‘ici nous parlons Francais’ doet vreemd aan. Ook in Frankrijk is het ‘on parle’ in mijn ervaring.

  5. Kevin says:

    >>The European French as opposed to French Canadians would argue it should be ‘nous parlons français’ (’we speak French’) as opposed to the impersonal ‘on’ (’one speaks French’)<<
    Would they..?

    “On parle français” is surely the normal European-French formulation (so that I don’t really see what Québec has to do with it..!). The impersonal “on” for “nous” is very firmly entrenched in French French — except for the use of the n-word in such formulations as “nous, on est d’accord” etc. 🙂

    The English-language “set phrase” BTW (as seen for generations along the southern coast of La Manche) is “English spoken”.

  6. Rod says:

    You seem to have overlooked the obvious: they announce that speak (not write) those languages. Now seriously, the perpetrator of this notice has surely tried to repeat verbatim the standard touristic sign appeared like mushrooms on the 50’s at every place where a tourist could reach, were or not people at hand with those polyglot abilities.

    Touristic-related mistranslations are an endless source of fun in Spain. Even now, with widespread English teaching and Internet you can still be offered “Moorish thorns” instead of “meat brochettes”. But my favorite one is “Rape sailor style” instead of “Anglerfish sailor style” (Anglerfish is the ugly, fascinating and delicious fish Lophius piscatorius). I giggle thinking in the faces of English matrons pondering if the assault of a tough guy with earring and bandana would be fun. Other kinds of rapes are also available in Spanish restaurants: roasted rape, american rape, catalan rape, rape with leek… the list is endless.

  7. ACACIA says:

    This is my first visit to your blog.
    Very interesting and the photos are excellent! Congratulations!
    Being a native, I can tell you that the phrase in Spanish is : “SE HABLA ESPAÑOL” In this case,we are dealing with a reflexive passive or impersonal construction.
    I agree with you: It is an order! They want you to speak English!

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