O Camiño de Santiago |

Imagine you are on the Camino Francés… or on the Camino del Norte, or the Primitivo or even on the Vía de la Plata. It doesn’t really matter.


The thing is, you are walking across Spain. Maybe you’ve prepared before your trip and learned a bit of Spanish. Or you’ve been picking up a few words along the way. And then you enter Galicia and you get the impression that people sound different.


What’s worse: things start getting confusing. Now you see Fisterra… later you see Finisterre… Are they different places? Is it the same place?


The good news is that you are not going crazy. Let me explain


Spain has not always been Spain as we know it today. A few centuries ago, there were several smaller kingdoms, ruled by different kings and queens. One of these kingdoms was the Kingdom of Galicia, which included the north of modern day Portugal as well as part of Asturias and León.


Latin was the language generally spoken in the Iberian Peninsula, but at some stage it started developing differently in different areas until it became several different languages. Some of them have survived until our days and they are co-official, together with Spanish, in their respective territories.


Such is the case of gallego (Galician), or galego in the Galician language. And that’s what you are hearing!


So, instead of teaching you Spanish, today I decided to teach you a few Galician words. After all, no matter what Camino you choose, the last 100km will always be in Galicia.



O Camiño de Santiago |


But let me give you a bit of background info first


  • The first written documents in gallego date back to the 12th century and during the Middle Ages, gallego was the language of poetry in all of Spain.


  • Gallego and portugués were initially the same language, but by the 14th century, that language had already split into the two separate languages we have today. This means that gallego and portugués have a lot in common. So, knowing a bit of gallego will help you in Portugal too!


  • Towards the end of the Middle Ages, gallego ceased to be used by the higher classes, due to political circumstances. It survived till our days thanks to peasants and fishermen, who kept it alive even if it was only orally.


  • In the 18th century, a group of intellectuals started becoming interested in the Galician language. One of them was Padre Sarmiento, whose pilgrimage to Santiago inspired the Variante Espiritual route.


  • One of the first and most popular authors to write in galego was Rosalía de Castro, who lived in Padrón, on the Camino Portugués.


  • We Galician people like to add the diminutive -iño/-iña to almost any word! It adds proximity, familiarity and even affection. So grazas (thank you) becomes graciñas and ata logo (see you later) becomes ata loguiño!


And here are the words… 

Today’s (not Spanish) words


If you’d like to increase your Galician vocabulary, check Galician on the Camino.

The podcast transcripts.

Want more?

Make sure you don’t miss any posts or announcements by subscribing for free here. That way, when a new post is out, you will get it in your inbox. And… you get access to exclusive content too.



Bo Camiño!