Catalan translation: tips for success


Catalan is a Western Romance language with over 10 million speakers across many regions. It is the official language of Andorra, and an official language of two autonomous communities in eastern Spain: Catalonia and the Balearic Islands.

It is also an official language in Valencia, where it is called Valencian. It has semi-official status in the Italian commune of Alghero, and it is spoken in the Pyrénées-Orientales department of France and in two further areas in eastern Spain: the eastern strip of Aragon and the Carche area in the Region of Murcia.

For translators venturing into the realm of translating into Catalan, a nuanced and careful approach is crucial. Here are essential tips for success in this linguistic endeavour.


What does Catalan look like?

Like many other languages, Catalan has unique sayings and expressions that may require a not so literal translation. Being aware of this is a great way to train our linguistic sensitivity.

Here are some unique idioms of the Catalan language:

‘Qui no te feina el gat pentina’ – A literal translation would be “one who doesn’t have work brushes the cat”. This implies that a person who is idle will do whatever it takes to pass the time.

‘Hi han més dies que llonganises’ – The literal translation for this idiom is “there are more days than sausages”. Now, what does it mean? Essentially, that there is always time and there is no reason to be in a hurry.

‘Els Catalans de les pedres en fan pa’ – This expression translates to “the Catalans make bread from stones”. This is a testament to the resilience of the Catalans; they can get themselves through any adversity!

It is important no to translate these idioms literally and to know we are dealing with local expressions. Finding natural target equivalents for these phrases may be a challenge, but that is what being a translator is all about!

Let’s take a look at some tips now.


Cultural sensitivity

To translate effectively from / into Catalan, it is imperative to not only speak the language, but also grasp the cultural nuances of the target audience. Catalonia has a unique history, and Catalans take pride in their distinct identity. Understanding Catalan culture, traditions, and sensitivities is essential for delivering translated texts that resonate with the local audience.

Language variation

Catalan exhibits regional variations, with differences in vocabulary, pronunciation, and idioms. Familiarize yourself with the specific Catalan variant spoken in the target region to ensure linguistic accuracy and cultural relevance.

Legal and official translation

Catalonia has its legal and official documents, and translating such content requires a deep understanding of legal terminology in both Catalan and the source language. Accurate legal translations are vital for compliance and clarity.

Proofreading and editing

Thorough proofreading and editing are non-negotiable. Even the most experienced translators can overlook details. Having a fresh pair of eyes review the translated content ensures a polished and error-free final product.

Collaboration with native speakers

Collaboration with native Catalan speakers, preferably those from the target region, is invaluable. Native speakers bring an intuitive understanding of the language’s intricacies and can provide insights into cultural subtleties that might elude non-native translators.


List of useful resources:

Institut d’Estudis Catalans (IEC): the IEC is a key institution for the Catalan language. Their website provides linguistic resources, dictionaries, and publications related to Catalan.

Website: is an online dictionary provided by the IEC. It’s a comprehensive resource for Catalan word definitions and includes language variations used in different regions.


Termcat: Termcat is the Centre for Terminology in Catalan. It offers a wealth of terminology resources, glossaries, and tools to support precise and consistent language use, especially in specialised fields.


Memòria Digital de Catalunya: this digital archive offers access to historical documents, texts, and resources in Catalan. Exploring historical language use can deepen your understanding of Catalan in different periods.



Did you like reading about these useful tips? If you are not a Language Service Provider and rather need a Catalan translation, reach out to us at Traductanet. We would be happy to help with our expert team of project managers and linguists – ask for a quote today!