Not everybody knows that Barcelona being the Capital of Catalonia means that it has 2 official languages - Catalan and Castellano (common spanish to you and I). Speakers of neither could well pass a few days here and not even notice the difference, as they are both similar Latin languages. Catalan is a mix of Spanish and French if you listen to it, or even if you read it - for example everything on the metro is in 3 languages, Catalan, Spanish and English, so it's easy to see the small differences.
The Catalans are a fiercely proud nation, and many shops will remind you with notices in the window "Catalonia is not Spain" - as they seek to gain their independence from the government. The language is a great way for them to try and express their desire for separation, and indeed, many people - even if they can tell you are a foreigner trying to speak Spanish - will always only speak to you in Catalan. They think that it's their country, their language, so you should speak it. Fair enough, but if you're making an effort to speak a language that they understand, at least come half way?!
Another favourite way to show off their Catalan pride is with bumper stickers on cars. I have mentioned this in a previous post. The black sillhouette of a Bull is a typical emblem of Spain, so to mock this, the Catalans have embraced another animal indigenous to Catalunya instead. Trot forward the donkey. similar to Catalan, it was close to extinction in the Franco era, but now has a blossoming population, so I'm told. Various versions of this donkey have been coined - a donkey mounting a bull, for example, and vice versa outside of Catalunya.
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