Holidays in Mallorca/Majorca: where to stay in Mallorca, what to see & do in Mallorca, language in Mallorca
Mallorca/Majorca Holidays
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All you need to know to have a great holiday in Mallorca/Majorca

Language in Mallorca

The two official languages of Mallorca are Spanish and Mallorquín and almost all Mallorcans speak both, bilingually. Mallorquín was banned under Franco’s régime and not taught at school during that time, which is part of the reason that the islanders all speak Spanish (or castellano as they call it). However, Mallorquín has been very much revived and when you hear Mallorcans talking amongst themselves it’s most likely to be in their local language.

For the British visitor to Mallorca, the best language to speak with the locals is Spanish. The Mallorquín language (see below) is difficult to learn and is useful only in Mallorca. If you are interested in travelling also in other parts of Spain, you are better off investing your time and energy in learning Spanish.

Spanish in Mallorca

Particularly in the touristy areas, most Mallorcans can speak pretty good English. However, in my experience, if you speak Spanish in Mallorca, you will make a better impression and be taken a bit more seriously. Who wants to be just another British tourist? Being able to speak some Spanish will mark you out from the crowd and sometimes get you better service. Anyway, I believe it’s rude to go to someone else’s country and expect everybody to speak English. If you can even just use a few words of Spanish, it shows you’ve made an effort and people will respond well.

When I first went to Mallorca, in 2004, I found that when I addressed someone in Spanish they very often answered me in English. This happens to me a lot, in various countries, and I hate it. The interesting thing is that when I was there again towards the end of 2007, not one single person did this in the whole ten days I was there. My feeling is that Mallorcans have got fed up with having to speak English all the time and are thankful when someone talks to them in a language that is native to them.

Spanish is one of the easiest languages for English-speaking people to learn. I’ve been studying it for about five years now, first at a language school and later online and by myself, and I speak it pretty well now. It has hugely enhanced my experience of visiting Mallorca and mainland Spain and, if you want to get to know the real Mallorca, I certainly recommend that you learn a bit of Spanish.

Mallorquín language

Mallorquín is a variant of Catalan, as spoken in Catalonia, the north-east region of mainland Spain. Many people say that Mallorquín is a dialect of Catalan, though the Mallorcans consider it a separate language. Either way, it’s a different language from Spanish, having developed directly from Latin rather than as a dialect of Spanish.

If you can speak some Spanish, this will certainly be enough to get under the skin of Mallorca. You don’t need to speak Mallorquín. However, since most of the signposts, road signs and so on are written in Mallorquín, it’s useful to recognise some of the words. If you know Spanish, French and/or Italian, you will be able to work out quite a lot of the meaning of written Mallorquín (the spoken language is even more of a challenge!).

Here are some useful Mallorquín words and phrases:

puig mountain peak
camin footpath
carrer street
platja beach
llac lake
pont bridge
pobla village
mirador viewing point, place to see a view
perill danger
deixau passar give way
no fumeu no smoking
obert open
tancat closed
rebaixes sale(s)
descomptes discounts
mercat market
dilluns Monday
dimarts Tuesday
dimecres Wednesday
dijous Thursday
divendres Friday
dissabte Saturday
diumenge Sunday
avui today
demà tomorrow
ahir yesterday
nord north
sud south
est east
oest west
entrada entrance
sortida exit
lavabo / toaleta toilet
The masculine article el (the) in Spanish is es in Mallorquín and the feminine article la is sa.