A Language Barrier?

A Language Barrier?

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You could practically fit the whole continent of Europe in the states, and it makes up almost 45 countries, as opposed to 50 states! This is hard to grasp especially when thinking about traveling over spring break and on weekends. Driving to Ohio from Wisconsin would be like visiting Portugal for the weekend, and flying to Los Angeles would be like flying all the way to London. Just to show you how diverse Europe is take a look at how many languages they speak, in addition to Spain alone!

There are a total of 230 different languages/dialects in Europe. So basically this would be like every state in the United States have roughly four languages or dialects. Sheesh! Here is only a brief summary of only the Romance languages commonly encountered in Europe.

  • Catalan is official in Andorra; co-official in the Spanish regions of Catalonia, Valencian Community (as Valencian) and Balearic Islands.
  • French is official in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Monaco, Switzerland and the Channel Islands. It is also official in Canada, in many African countries and in overseas departments and territories of France.
  • Italian is official in Italy, San Marino, Switzerland, Vatican City and Istria (in Croatia and Slovenia).
  • Latin is usually classified as an Italic language of which the Romance languages are a subgroup. It is extinct as a spoken language, but it is widely used as a liturgical language by the Roman Catholic Churchand studied in many educational institutions.
  • Leonese is recognized in Castile and León (Spain).
  • Portuguese is official in Portugal. It is also official in Brazil and several former Portuguese colonies in Africa and Eastern Asia.
  • Romanian is official in Romania, Moldova (as Moldovan), and Vojvodina (Serbia).
  • Romansh is an official language of Switzerland.
  • Sardinian is co-official in the Sardinia Autonomous Region, of Italy. It is also spoken by Sardinian diaspora. It is considered the most conservative of the Romance languages in terms of phonology.
  • Sicilian is spoken primarily in Sicily, Italy. With its dialects, spoken in Southern Calabria and Southern-east Apulia, it is referred also as Extreme-Southern Italian language group.
  • Spanish (also termed Castilian) is official in Spain. It is also official in most Latin American countries with the notable exception of Brazil.

Of all the 230 languages in all of Europe, Spain alone shares its own five dialects. Aranese, co-official in the Pyrenean comarca of the Aran Valley is spoken in north-western Catalonia. Basque, is co-official in in the Basque Country and Navarre and the only non-Romance language in mainland Spain. Catalan, co-official in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and, as a distinct variant (Valencian), is spoken in the Valencian Community. Lastly, Galician is also spoken and co-official in Galicia. As you can see, Spain and all of Europe can create many language barrier problems, especially for study abroad students like me! So far, no problems, crossing my fingers…