Bon dia, València! The ‘Capital of Paella’ speaks its own language

Professors Carla López and Jesús Llavador
Professors Carla López and Jesús Llavador

“Bon dia” – Valencia welcomes its guests with its own language, “el valenciano” – which is co-official with Spanish in the Valencian Community and visible all over the region: metro signs, announcements or street names – “calle” is converted to “carrer”, “palacio” to “palau” and your Valencian friends are called “nanos” instead of “amigos”.
Have our international students been cramming Spanish vocabulary for nothing or can they still master Valencia’s everyday life with “castellano” instead of “valenciano”?

Professors Carla López and Jesús Llavador
Professors Carla López and Jesús Llavador

In order to answer this essential question we have talked to Jesús Llavador Marco, teacher for valenciano at CEU San Pablo Primary School, who has also taught Valencian to immigrants from all over the world coming to Valencia to live here, and attended his class of valenciano to get an impression of the language of the Valencians.

Bon dia, Jesús. Can a local language like valenciano survive in times of globalization when foreign languages are getting more and more important?
Jesús: Well, even though we notice that there is an increasing number of pupils in our classes who do not speak valenciano at home anymore, I think it is important to encourage our children to learn the language of their home area. Children today learn English at a very young age and some of my pupils who do not speak Valencian at home mix up English with Valencian when they, for example, are asked to write something in valenciano. English and other foreign languages are essential today, but it is still nice to know the language of your home place.

Are you proud of teaching the language of your home place? Is teaching valenciano a way of transmitting traditions and culture?
Jesús: As valenciano has always been important for me, I am actually proud of being able to teach the language of our home place to our young generation. I talk in valenciano with my family and friends, we have also been taught it at school – it is great to pass it on to my pupils. To me, our regional language is indeed a way of transmitting our traditions and culture. Language is an important part of culture – due to its linguistic influences it also represents our history. Some people think valenciano is a dialect, a form of Spanish. Of course, the basis of it is still Spanish, but it is actually a particular language.

You have also taught valenciano to immigrants from all over the world. Do you consider Valencian skills an essential requirement for internationals who want to live here?
Jesús: Well, it depends on what you want to do here. I think as an international student of the University, it is not necessary to know valenciano – it is probably difficult enough to learn Spanish and if you know some Spanish it is actually quite easy to understand some Valencian. For some kinds of jobs, however, people are required to know valenciano. For us, as primary school teachers, for example, it is necessary to know valenciano, as we also teach it. For the immigrants who want to live here it is also required as they have to do a test to prove their skills of Valencian. For them it was quite difficult to learn it, as Spanish is difficult enough – but in the end they did quite well and it was pretty funny to hear people from completely different places suddenly talking in Valenciano.

How could you convince our international students to learn valenciano?
Jesús: Well, first of all, it is quite useful to know some valenciano – some of our signs and street names are only in Valencian, so it would certainly prevent you from getting lost. Secondly, it is great to know some words in the language of the region you are staying at. I think, speaking the language or dialect of the region you come from is a sign of authenticity because it reveals where you come from which gives you personality and individuality.


Can you tell us some of the most indispensable Valencian words we should know?
Jesús: It is always nice to greet someone saying “Bon dia” (good morning), “Bona vesprada”(good afternoon) or saying goodnight by “Bona nit”. Other words I say frequently are “nano” – that is how you would call a friend,“mone”, which is similar to “vamos” (let’s go) or “che!” – which is how you would express surprise, anger or even happiness.

Gràcies, Jesús for giving us an impression of the Valencian language and letting us take part in your Valencian classes.

Even though it is not a necessary requirement for our international students to learn some Valencian because you can easily master Valencia’s everyday life without knowing any valenciano, it would certainly be a nice idea to learn the language of the Valencians. Not only will the knowledge of the language the locals speak result in warm smiles, it might enrich your life by offering you a deeper understanding of the culture and history of the people you meet. Learning a foreign language in general and delving into a completely new culture and world view is the best way of becoming open-minded and understanding. Of course, learning a new language is also fun – so we have prepared some useful Valencian vocabulary so that you can completely get soaked into Valencia’s culture.


Street > Calle > Carrer
Avenue > Avenida > Avinguda
Market > Mercado > Mercat
City > Ciudad > Ciutat
City Hall > Ayuntamiento > Ajuntament
Embassy > Embajada > Ambaixada
Go shopping > Ir de compras > Anar de compres
Hairdresser’s > Peluquería > Perruqueria
Exit > Salida > Eixida
Beach > Playa > Platja
Palace > Palacio > Palau
Castle > Castillo > Castell
Good morning > Buenos días > Bon dia
Good Afternoon > Buenas tardes > Bona vesprada
Good Evening/Night > Buenas Noches > Bona nit
Thank you > Gracias > Gràcies
Bye > Adiós > Adéu


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