The Gallegan in Pontevedra

Behind the table sat the Advocate, on whom I looked with no little interest: his forehead was high and wrinkled, and there was much gravity on his features, which were quite Spanish. He was dressed in a long robe, and might be about sixty; he sat reading behind a large table and on our entrance half-raised himself and bowed slightly.

The notary public saluted him most profoundly, and, in an under voice, hoped that he might be permitted to introduce a friend of his, an English gentleman, who was travelling through Galicia.

“I am very glad to see him,” said the Advocate, “but I hope he speaks Castilian, else we can have but little communication; for, although I can read both French and Latin, I cannot speak them.”

“He speaks, sir, almost as good Spanish,” said the notary, “as a native of Pontevedra.”

“The natives of Pontevedra,” I replied, “appear to be better versed in Gallegan than Castilian, for the greater part of the conversation which I hear in the streets is carried on in the former dialect.”

“The last gentleman which my friend Garcia introduced to me,” said the Advocate, “wasa Portuguese, who spoke little or no Spanish. It is said that the Gallegan and Portuguese are very similar, but when we attempted to converse in the two languages, we found it impossible. I understood little of what he said, whilst my Gallegan was quite unintelligible to him. Can you understand our country dialect?” he continued.

“Very little of it,” I replied; “which I believe chiefly proceeds from the peculiar accent and uncouth enunciation of the Gallegans, for their language is certainly almost entirely composed of Spanish and Portuguese words.”

[…]

“Señor Cavalier,” said the Advocate, “I will show you my library. Here is a curious work, a collection of poems, written mostly in Gallegan, by the curate of Fruime. He is our national poet, and we are very proud of him.”

 

(George Borrow, The bible in Spain, London: Century Publishing, 1985, p. 234, p. 259-260)

 

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