Friday, December 6, 2013

Language Profile: Balearic

After taking an in-depth look at Catalan and Valencian earlier in the week, we're going to conclude our week of language profiles with a brief look at Balearic.

The coast of Mallorca.
Balearic is a dialect of Catalan spoken in Balearic Islands, which are located in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Spain. The name was created by linguists to describe the group of Catalan varieties spoken in the Balearic Islands. Speakers generally refer to these varieties by their local names: mallorquí on the island of Mallorca, eivissenc in Ibiza, and menorquí in Menorca. 

In the Balearic Islands, the standard form of Catalan regulated by the Institut d'Estudis Catalans is used. However, it is adapted to the Balearic dialect by linguists at the Universitat de les Illes Balears to create a standard Balearic dialect. For example, the Balearic standard doesn't use endings in the first-person singular of the present tense, so "I sleep" becomes jo dorm and "I fear" becomes jo tem, as opposed to standard Catalan which uses an -o ending.

The classification of Balearic as a dialect of Catalan is somewhat controversial, but seems to cause less conflict than the disputes regarding the classifcation of Valencian in relation to Catalan. As usual, the occasional politician in the Balearic Islands claims that Balearic is a separate language from Catalan, but generally without any actual linguistic basis.

The Balearic dialect contains several words that differ from those used in standard Catalan or Valencian. For example, the word moix is used for "cat" instead of gat, while ca is used for "dog" instead of gos. Balearic also contains some English loanwords that remain from the period of British occupation, which include grevi ("gravy"), xoc ("chalk"), and xumaquer ("shoemaker").

To conclude our look at these three language varieties spoken in Spain, we'd like to point out that some linguists suggest using the name català-valencià-balear (Catalan-Valencian-Balearic) to refer to them. It is a bit long, but it certainly would settle some long-standing linguistic disputes!

Catalan | Valencian | Balearic