Ilivetolearn's Blog

May 6, 2006

this and that about Galicia

Filed under: on the road,Spain — ilivetolearn @ 1:28 pm

The Galician language sounds like Portuguese to our untrained ears. It has more dominant vowel sounds and a lot of the swishy “sh” that is missing in Spanish, so sounds more fluid. In writing it looks a little like Basque, heavy on the x’s. It is the official language of road signs and is spoken by a large percentage of the population, but it is not as controversial as Catalan, because its proponents so far have not insisted that it be the sole language of commerce, justice, etc, in the region.

One thing that struck us more than in other parts of the country is the stature of the natives. They are really vertically challenged. This may be because until recently the area has been one of the poorest in Spain and the benefits of improved nutrition haven’t had time to work their magic on the next generation. Things were so bad for years that emigration rates were huge, especially to Latin America, where the word for Spaniard is still “Gallego.”

The Atlantic coastline is gorgeous…we went to La Coruña and climbed to the top of the Tower of Hercules, supposedly the oldest working lighthouse in the world (Roman, 2nd century), to get our fill of the sea view. At the base is a “rosa de los vientos” (rose of the winds or as we would say, compass rose) with Celtic symbols like the thistle, shamrock, and endless knot. Much is made of the Celtic connection in Galicia—there is even a bagpipe tradition there–though other than a history of sea trade leading to some intermarriage, it seems to be a kinship manufactured for the tourist trade.


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