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Last month I went to Mallorca to look at cobblestoned street and low-level houses with window shutters, and it was even more beautiful and civilised than I had imagined. 

Having never been to Spain before and thinking it's best to be prepared, I started studying Spanish about a month and a half before departure. After Cantonese and its communist cousin, Mandarin, I thought, how hard could it be? Well, apart from suddenly having to deal with tenses and plural and damned nouns AND adjectives with genders - not very.  

I thought the language of the region, Catalan, (yes, Mallorquin in Mallorca but I have to do some more research) would be more or less like Cantonese in the mainland and Hong Kong, despised and reviled and facing imminent execution by the Spanish behemoth. But on official signs and documents it was all Catalan this and Catalan that, with Spanish thrown in at the bottom as an afterthought, if at all. 

 

Best of all, when I talked Spanish to people, they answered me in Spanish. Not only that, when I said stuff like "Soy calsado" (or something) when I should have said "estoy cansada" (I'm tired) they understood what I meant and corrected me! And one woman asked me what time it was in the street and I could answer her "Seven" and we both just walked on as if we were normal human beings! That was huge. Yuge!

In fact it was like in my early days learning Cantonese in Hong Kong, when I still enjoyed it when people applauded me for being able to walk and say "jo san" at the same time. 

Learn Cantonese this year! Stand up to the mandarin juggernaut. 

 

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