On the way home from Carcasonne, our group visited a lovely town, Roses. Wait, is it Rosas? This beach town is in the Girona province of Spain, and just south of the French border. Like Valencia and the Province of Valencia, the residents there share a dual-language system. Here in Valencia, the local language is Valenciano. In Girona, there are many people who speak Catalán. But two local spellings for the same town? Yes.
Without getting into a huge and messy description of the history of Spain, its regions, and its many quirks, let’s just say that there are states that enclose smaller districts, like counties. In this case, the Autonomous State of Catalonia (or Catalunya) includes four different districts, Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona.
However, all the districts share one thing in common: the language of Catalán (or Català). While Spanish (Castillian or Castellano) is spoken pretty frequently, the locals typically use Catalán a great deal, too.
For someone with a shiny new baby-bird vocabulary in Spanish, like me, this local language can wreak havoc on my ability to understand and follow a conversation. Sounding a little like French, Spanish, Portugese, and Italian, the coastal regions of both Catalunya and Valencia both experienced a major melting pot of language influences from around the mediterranean.
Occasionally, this language difference makes its way onto maps and signs, hence the two names for the lovely town of Roses. Yes, it is only one letter away from Rosas, but that letter is an easy reminder of the rich history behind the east coast of Spain. The people here were incredibly pleasant and friendly. From the beautiful beach, you could see the snow-covered mountains to the north. We were able to catch a few minutes of a dance exhibition for a beautiful folk dance called the Sardana that is danced in a circle with members joining and changing in a graceful movement. We also were able to visit a small pop-up market selling local and interesting items, cheeses, and regional crafts.
This may be a place I would like to visit again!
You may notice that the signs below are in Catalán instead of Spanish. See, I wasn’t just telling you all that stuff about languages for fun. There was a reason, gentle reader!