Mark Pentleton, of Coffee Break Spanish and Radio Lingua fame, has set himself a challenge to learn Catalan in four weeks. As he admits, he knows some already from his travels, but wants to be able to hold a proper conversation when he goes to Barcelona at the end of the month. He’s begun with a couple of posts this week, in Catalan. Very impressive!
Well, over the last few months, Mark and I have sporadically corresponded via Twitter in Catalan after he mentioned plans for One Minute Catalan and I said that’d be good but why not Mallorquí. The truth is that I learned Catalan at Sheffield University, taught by Alan Yates (of Teach Yourself Catalan fame) and then spent a year at L’Universitat de les Illes Balears in Mallorca. On returning for my final year, I had great fun making myself understood as my fellow students had been to Barcelona and Valencia and couldn’t understand my unique accent.
During my time in Sheffield, I wrote essays in Catalan, read countless books, adored La Plaça del Diamant, worshipped Villalonga and was gutted when Josep Llompart died whist I was in Mallorca. I even managed to deliver a talk to the highly critical, fiercely Mallorquí students of Català1 at UIB – and survived! I really did enjoy it. However, since then, I have no opportunity to use my skills and they are therefore horribly rusty.
So, I’ve decided to join Mark in his challenge. Before you get overexcited, I won’t be posting great essays in Catalan – or Mallorquí – but I will tell you what I’ve been doing. I’ve decided that, as term is just starting (shame I didn’t think of this a month ago!), I’m going for the ‘poc à poc’ approach (that reminds me of a Catalan joke, but it’s rude and I can only recall the punchline!).
I started off by tweeting Mark in Catalan:
After one particular tweet in which I shared my favourite Catalan refrán (probably the only one I know off by heart!) I’ve started reading ‘De mica en mica s’omple la pica‘ by Jaume Fuster once more. I read it at Uni – that was a long time ago, but I have to say that I’m really excited that I can still understand most of it – and the bits I’m looking up in my dictionary are actually familiar once I know what they mean!
Today, I’ve rediscovered one of my favourite expressions – it means don’t worry!
I’m hoping to find a phrase like that for each day – so any suggestions are very welcome!
Might even try to post some 12seconds.TV videos of me talking!