Mallorca Monday: Mallorca or Majorca?

Yup, instead of Spain Sunday, it’s Mallorca Monday! All the things you didn’t know you wanted to know about Mallorca, in one handy blog.

To be honest, a lot of this is going to be written as we learn it (just like the Spain Sundays) so we are going to start with the first and most obvious thing we’ve learned about: the name, what does it mean, and how is it spelled.

As you will have noticed, the series is called Mallorca Monday, not Majorca Monday, so you already know our opinion on the spelling issue, but let’s get into it.


So which is it?

Unless you are British, it should be two-Ls Mallorca.

Why are there even two spellings in the first place?

The British started spelling it with a J because early anglophonic tourists just couldn’t get their heads around the whole “two Ls = Y” concept. To avoid confusion, the LLs were replaced with a J. To be clear, Majorca and Mallorca are both said the same way, which makes no sense to me because when I see the word “Majorca” my instinct is to pronounce the J the same way I would pronounce it in “major”, and not to pronounce it like a Y, but whatever… Just so we are all clear, the official 100% correct pronunciation is “My-Orca”, as in “Hey, that’s my orca whale over there”.

I am not ragging on the British, and this isn’t a British specific trait. There are plenty of Americans who pronounce tortilla as “tort.Till. Uh”….

Some people think that “Majorca” is the Spanish spelling, while others think that “Majorca” is the Catalan (the language the locals speak) spelling. Both are wrong, nobody spells it Majorca except for tourists. The Spanish and the Catalans both spell it Mallorca.

What does it mean?

The island originally got its name from the Romans who might have called it Baleris Maior, which just meant that it was the larger of two islands in the Balearic chain. Because of this, I’ve seen people defending the British/tourist spelling because “well the Romans spelled it this way.”

This ignores three points.

  1. The Romans don’t live here anymore.
  2. In Latin, it’s spelled Maior. (Major is not actually how the Romans spelled it)
  3. We don’t use the Roman spellings for everything. The same people who say we should say Majorca because the Romans did probably don’t call “London” by the original Roman name “Londinium.” These same people also say “Balearic” not the Roman “Baleris.”



Is it a problem?

All languages have different names for different places. We call Germany “Germany” but Germany calls itself Deutschland, the Spanish call it Alemania and the Koreans call it “Togil.” The USA in Korean is not called “The USA” or “America” or anything similar to that. It’s actually called 미국 (Mi-Guk), which translates to “Beautiful Land”.

There is no real harm in spelling it one way or another. After all, we say Spain instead of España, and Seville instead of Sevilla, so what difference does it make if Mallorca is spelled Majorca?

Well, Mallorca is already seen as an island completely overrun by tourists who couldn’t give half a damn about the culture, the food, or the locals, and these local people are starting to resent it. Their tolerance for trading their peace and quiet for the money brought by the hordes of tourists is straining them. People being ugly tourists doesn’t help. To continue to spell it “Majorca” just enforces the feeling that Mallorca as a place doesn’t matter. That the only thing outsiders care about in regards to the island is the sun and the debauchery. This just adds another straw to the camel’s back of “tourism is killing Mallorca”. Not only do these tourists want to eat British/German meals, drink British/German beer, but they don’t even want to learn how to pronounce a double L. And since we live here, that is something we want to avoid.



2 thoughts on “Mallorca Monday: Mallorca or Majorca?

  1. Interesting, I’ve actually been confused by this so thanks for clearing it up.

    Adding to your point about ll in Spanish I was born in the city of Amarillo Texas. Despite being named by Spanish explorers as the soil around that area does have yellowish tinge no one I knew there ever pronounced the ll properly and I was completely unaware of it until I took a few Spanish lessons when I later lived in California where knowing some Spanish is essential. Even today it’s still pronounced wrong including that the i is pronounced as an e.


  2. Good to see you all posting again!

    Interesting that Brexit made the front page news (via the Dutch)…have you guys heard what the locals think about the UK probably/potentially departing the EU? Does anyone seem to care?


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