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The Alcover-Moll Dictionary

The Catalan language is a rather beautiful, often quite poetic language. Currently, there is much debate here in Mallorca as to whether Mallorquín as a language is a proper such language or simply, a dialect of the Catalan idiom from Catalunya on the mainland. I am not an expert in this matter but I know that there are experts of some consequence in linguistic issues. One of them was Antoni Maria Alcover i Sureda (1862-1932).

Although Mossèn Alcover’s first literary efforts were in Spanish, he turned to the Catalan language in 1879. From this date, he undertook to collect the Rondalles de Mallorca (fables and folklore of Mallorca), which he began to publish in 1880 in various journals under a pseudonym (Jordi d’es Racó). In 1886, Alcover was ordained and became the parish priest for Manacor, hence the title Mossèn. In 1888 he became a professor of ecclesiastical history at the seminary in Palma.

The first Congrés Internacional de la Llengua Catalana (International Congress of the Catalan Language) was held in 1906 on his initiative and under his presidency. He was named president of the philological branch of the Institute for Catalan Studies. His principal work was the Diccionari Català-Valencià-Balear (Catalan-Valencian-Balearis Dictionary), also known as Diccionari Alcover-Moll, which unfortunately he did not live to see completed. A first tome was published in 1926. The complete oeuvre was finished by his then collaborator Francesc de Borja i Moll and published in 1962, fifty years ago this year. The current edition is a lexicon in ten tomes, published in 1993 (see photo below).

Perhaps José Ramon Bauzá, the president of the Govern de les Illes Balears, should buy a complete set of this lexicon and actually study the language that he seems to so vehemently repress.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 14th, 2012. The time was 23:11:33. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of

Moltes gràcies.

6 replies »

  1. When you state mallorquí (or valencià, for that matter) is a dialect of the Catalan idiom from Catalunya on the mainland, you imply a false subordination which nobody likes. All of them can equally claim to be the rightful descendants of the Catalan language that was spoken in the 13th century. The local varieties spoken in Catalunya are as much a regional dialect of the common Catalan language as those spoken in the balearic islands. Only think of the diverse ways English is spoken in different parts of the world, their history and evolution and you’ll have a clue to understand this issue.

    • joan, i am happy that you follow my blog and i certainly appreciate each and every of the many comments you have made on mdpb. thank you very much. this time, i think you got the gist wrong of what i said, as david pointed out earlier. i would never trivialize mallorquí as it is a language spoken in our house on a daily basis between our grown children and their friends, novios and what have you, as well as by all our neighbours and many of our local friends. i think i may be a bit of an expert in the field, certainly compared with many foreign residents. what i meant to say is that i don’t really see through the rationale of the political campaign raging in mallorca these days and instigated by senyor bauzà and his party, the partida popular. instead, i side with the argument of antoni pastor, alcalde in manacor and recently stripped of his party affiliation in parliament.
      please send in any criticism that you may have: i will appreciate each and any point of view of yours.

      • Hey Klaus, I really never meant to criticize you for this post in the very least, on the contrary, I can only congratulate you, as usual. There’s been a gross misunderstanding here!! I only tried to explain why it would be unfair to consider Mallorcan a bad copy of Catalan mainland, not because I thought that you held that opinion, but because some people wrongly understand it that way when the word ‘dialect’ is used.
        By the way, I also enjoy your posts when you talk about lemons and courtyards.

  2. @ Joan Salvado, I believe that you have misunderstood what Klaus has written. He did not state, or even insinuate, that Mallorqui is a dialect of the Catalan idiom from Catalunya; he wrote that there is much debate on the matter and that he is not an expert. Anyone who reads Klaus’ blog on a regular basis can vouch that he possesses a deep sensitivity towards Mallorca and all things Mallorcan.

    • I read Klaus’s blog on a regular basis and I can also vouch that what you say is true. I never meant to criticize neither him nor the content of his post which I subscribe and applaud. Nor I was trying to defend Mallorcan specifically, but trying to make a point in general on the messy concepts dialects/language. With very little success in making myself understood, I am very much afraid.

      • Joan, Many thanks for your reply. I think we all struggle, at times, to make ourselves understood 🙂 Coming from a country where very few people (including me) speak the orginal language of Gaelic I’m glad that you are passionate about Mallorqui.

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