Spain’s official language is Spanish, also known as Castilian Spanish or just Castilian, However, while traveling with a motorhome (RV) or campervan through Spain you may meet a variety of languages either spoken or written on menu cards and on street and traffic signs.
Attitudes towards Spanish in Catalan, Basque & Galician Regions
Genuine hostility to Spanish speakers is very rare and even more when it is a tourist on holiday who is genuinely trying to speak the language. Despite the notoriety of Basque separatists the Catalans are in general the most fervently nationalist. Street names are written in both Spanish and Basque in the Basque country, whereas in Catalonia they are only in Catalan. Confusingly, Spanish speakers in Catalonia will often call Catalan street names by their Spanish equivalent, which can be quite frustrating when you’re searching for it on a map! It is pretty much unheard of for Galicians to resent the use of Castilian Spanish in Galicia. Spanish or Castilian is spoken in basically all but the most remote villages in these regions.
Co-official languages spoken in Spain:
- Catalan is the most widely spoken of all the minority languages in Spain. Catalonia is where you will most often see a menu written in a language other than Spanish. About seven million people speak Catalan/Valencian. Catalan is intelligible when written down if you speak Spanish (and/or French) but the pronunciation is quite different.
- Basque, a complex language often dubbed the most unique in Europe. Despite the infamous ETA terrorist group being based in the Basque Country, the Basques are generally happier about speaking Spanish than the Catalans are.
- Galician, approximately three million people speak the language. It is the closest to Spanish of the three regional languages in Spain – if you also speak a little Portuguese, you should have no problem understanding the language. Portuguese actually grew out of Galician.
- Aranese is an official language in the tiny Val d’Aran, in north-west Catalonia, though it is not recognized in the rest of Catalonia.
- Valencian is recognized as a dialect of Catalan by most authorities, though in Valencia it is seen as a separate language.
At OrsonRent, apart from Castilian and Catalan we speak English, Dutch, German, French and Swedish.