Help in Andorra

Andorra is the only country that uses Catalan as its official language. That means that all official publications and all official administration (down to the lowliest form to be filled out) is in Catalan. Almost everybody who works for the public administration is virtually bilingual in Spanish (although there are some exceptions – just to “prove the rule”).

English is not the primary second or third language of most people. Almost half of the real resident population is Andorran by nationality  (and so speak Catalan, probably with Spanish as their second language). A significant number of residents are Spanish and then the third biggest group are Portuguese. Many of these Spanish and Portuguese residents work in hotels, restaurants, shops and bars. Generally their “lingua franca” is Spanish and relatively few speak more than a few words of English. There is a French speaking population, but it seems to mainly live and work in French. Then there are a wide variety of other nationalities – the working population tending to be made up of citizens from EU countries (notably the poorer member countries)  and from South America. For all of these the “lingua franca” tends to be Spanish too – but they are more likely to speak some English as well.

Fortunately, most of the doctors at the hospital (and in practice) speak some to good English, although none of them seem to have been trained in an English speaking environment. The same is applicable to dentists and vets.

So – the first need for many visitors is a little patience in trying to explain what they need – the usual rules of speaking slowly and clearly and (when talking to administration or medical personnel) remembering that the longer words in English tend to come from Latin roots and so may well have an almost exact equivalent in Catalan (and Spanish).

If you need help as a result of an accident and are “enjoying” the wait in emergencies at the hospital, Clare Allcard (one of the members of our church) is a qualified hospital visitor, a one time nurse (long ago) and has Andorran nationality (so she has passed her Catalan language course). Try her mobile number of  +376 344181.

For general matters you can try calling John Pinnell, our Treasurer, whose main language skills are in Spanish (as he still works part time in Spain) but he can manage quite well in Catalan. He is reputed to have a wide (but often not deep) general knowledge about Andorra and problems people may have.  His mobile number is +376 355275.