Gereon Janzing, geobotánico y etnobotánico
Gereon Janzing, geobotánico y etnobotánico


Ibicencan is a dialect of Catalan. It is spoken on the islands of Ibiza and Formentera. Ibiza was Catalanized with military force in the 13th century. Today's Ibicencans don't usually call their language Catalan but Ibicencan: "Entens eivissenc?" However, there is no doubt that it's a Catalan dialect.

Of course it has many common traits with Majorcan and Minorcan. One of these is the definite article with s, another is the first person present tense without an ending: where on the mainland Catalans say canto "I sing, am singing", on the Balearics it is cant, which is the form of ancient Catalan (which is also used in Alguerese).

Sometimes in literature you can find statements about Balearic Catalan, and not all are valid for Ibicencan. The pronunciation of o in an unaccented syllable as o is true for Majorcan; in Ibicencan and Minorcan and even in Sollerencan (in the town of Sóller on Majorca) the unaccented o is pronounced u (like in the rest of East Catalan). In Majorcan and Minorcan xerrar is used in the sense of "to speak" ("Xerres mallorquí?"), but in Ibicencan it is parlar ("Parles eivissenc?"); xerrar has the same use as on the mainland: "to chat". The word tassó for "glass, cup" is only said in Majorcan, in Ibicencan it is got like on the mainland. For "tomato", tomàtiga is said only in Majorcan, en Minorcan it is tomàtic, in Ibicencan tomata (like in West Catalan).

An old word that has survived in Balearic Catalan is ca "dog" instead of gos (in Latin canis, in Italian cane). The female (the bitch) in Ibicencan is called quissona.

Some typical Ibicencan words (although some of them exist in other dialects too): sous "money", cada volta més "more and more". Ibicencan shares some words with Valencian: dacsa "maize, Indian corn", pardal "bird", galfí "dolphin". Also Ibicencan shares with Valencian (and all of West Catalan) plurals like home ("man") > hòmens, jove ("young") > jóvens. (In standard Catalan the plurals are homes, joves.)

A common trait of Ibicencan and Majorcan (not Minorcan) is that a final r in all cases–unless it is part of a verb root: plor "I cry, am crying" (in Central Catalan: ploro)–is mute. So cor "heart" and mar "sea" are pronounced as if they were and .

An interesting idiom is vaig blau for "I am drunk", literally: "I go (am going) blue". The allegory of the blue colour in the sense of "drunk" is likewise found in German: ich bin blau, literally "I am blue" (in French however in this figurative sense the black colour is used).

In Ibicencan it is fairly common to include Spanish words. So it can happen that instead of hibernacle "greenhouse" one says the Spanish word invernadero or Catalanized invernader, even though one knows the Catalan word.

Among the Spanish structures used in Ibicencan is the periphrastic future tense: While in standard Catalan sentences like vaig a cantar (literally "I go, am going to sing") have a meaning of movement: "I'm going somewhere to sing", in Ibicencan (like sometimes in other colloquial Catalan) it is used like in Spanish voy a cantar with the pure future tense meaning of "I will sing".

Words like família ("family"), aigua ("water"), quaranta ("forty") lose the a after vowel in some Ibicencan local dialects (more in the countryside than in the city): famili, aigu, curanta. If one writes in dialect, these two last words can be written aigo, coranta because that's what they are pronounced in Majorcan. (And the last one in Romansh is curonta.)

It should be mentioned that due to immigration to Ibiza often other Catalan dialects are heard. Moreover a relevant part of the population does not speak any Catalan. But among the peasants (and even in the environmentalist groups) Ibicencan is still very much alive.

Some plant names in Ibicencan: mata, metller, verdura, frígola, dacsa, garrover.