"Catala" redirects here. For the ship, see SS Catala
. For the surname, see Catalá
A speaker of Catalan (Majorcan dialect).
, former president of Catalonia, discussing individual identity, collective identity and language.
Etymology and pronunciation
The word Catalan
is derived from the territorial name of Catalonia
, itself of disputed etymology. The main theory suggests that Catalunya
) derives from the name Gothia
("Land of the Goths"), since the origins of the Catalan counts, lords and people were found in the March of Gothia
, whence Gothland
, the term referring to a person first appears in the mid 14th century as Catelaner
, followed in the 15th century as Catellain
). It is attested a language name since at least 1652. The word Catalan
can be pronounced in English as /
Linguistic map of Southwestern Europe
By the 9th century, Catalan had evolved from Vulgar Latin
on both sides of the eastern end of the Pyrenees
, as well as the territories of the Roman province of Hispania Tarraconensis
to the south.
From the 8th century onwards the Catalan counts extended their territory southwards and westwards at the expense of the Muslims
, bringing their language with them.
This process was given definitive impetus with the separation of the County of Barcelona
from the Carolingian Empire
In the 11th century, documents written in macaronic Latin
begin to show Catalan elements,
with texts written almost completely in Romance appearing by 1080.
Old Catalan shared many features with Gallo-Romance
, diverging from Old Occitan
between the 11th and 14th centuries.
During the 11th and 12th centuries the Catalan rulers expanded up to north of the Ebro river
and in the 13th century they conquered the Land of Valencia
and the Balearic Islands
The city of Alghero
was repopulated with Catalan speakers in the 14th century. The language also reached Murcia
, which became Spanish-speaking in the 15th century.
In the Low Middle Ages
, Catalan went through a golden age, reaching a peak of maturity and cultural richness.
Examples include the work of Majorcan polymath Ramon Llull
(1232–1315), the Four Great Chronicles (13th–14th centuries), and the Valencian school of poetry culminating in Ausiàs March
By the 15th century, the city of Valencia
had become the sociocultural center of the Crown of Aragon
, and Catalan was present all over the Mediterranean
During this period, the Royal Chancery propagated a highly standardized language.
Catalan was widely used as an official language in Sicily until the 15th century, and in Sardinia until the 17th.
During this period, the language was what Costa Carreras terms "one of the 'great languages' of medieval Europe".
Start of the modern era
With the union of the crowns of Castille
in 1479, the use of Spanish
gradually became more prestigious
and marked the start of the decline of Catalan.
Starting in the 16th century, Catalan literature came under the influence of Spanish, and the urban and literary classes became bilingual
France: 19th to 20th centuries
Official decree prohibiting the Catalan language in France
Following the French establishment of the colony of Algeria
from 1830 onward, it received several waves of Catalan-speaking settlers. People from the Spanish Alacant
province settled around Oran
, whereas Algiers
received immigration from Northern Catalonia
. Their speech was known as patuet
. By 1911, the number of Catalan speakers was around 100,000. After the declaration of independence of Algeria in 1962, almost all the Catalan speakers fled to Northern Catalonia (as Pieds-Noirs
) or Alacant.
The government of France formally recognizes only French as an official language. Nevertheless, on 10 December 2007, the General Council of the Pyrénées-Orientales
officially recognized Catalan as one of the languages of the department
and seeks to further promote it in public life and education.
Spain: 18th to 20th centuries
The decline of Catalan continued in the 16th and 17th centuries. The defeat of the pro-Habsburg coalition in the War of Spanish Succession
(1714) initiated a series of laws
which, among other centralizing measures, imposed the use of Spanish
in legal documentation all over Spain.
However, the 19th century saw a Catalan literary revival (Renaixença
), which has continued up to the present day.
This period starts with Aribau
's Ode to the Homeland
(1833); followed in the second half of the 19th century, and the early 20th by the work of Verdaguer
(realist novel), and Guimerà
In the 19th century, the region of Carche
, in the province of Murcia
was repopulated with Catalan speakers from the Land of Valencia
The Second Spanish Republic
(1931–1939) saw a brief period of tolerance, with most restrictions against Catalan being lifted.
Despite orthographic standardization in 1913 and the official status of the language during the Second Spanish Republic, the Francoist dictatorship
banned the use of Catalan in schools and in the public administration between 1939 and 1975. Franco's
desire for a homogenous Spanish population resonated with some Catalonians in favor of his regime, primarily members of the upper class, who began to reject the use of Catalan. In addition to the loss of prestige for Catalan and the prohibition of its use in schools, migration during the 1950s into Catalonia from other parts of Spain also contributed to the diminished use of the language. These migrants were often unaware of the existence of Catalan, and thus felt no need to learn or use it. Despite all of these hardships, Catalan continued to be used privately within households, and was able to survive after the end of Franco's dictatorship.
Since the Spanish transition to democracy
(1975–1982), Catalan has been institutionalized as an official language, language of education, and language of mass media; all of which have contributed to its increased prestige.
, there is an unparalleled large bilingual
The teaching of Catalan is mandatory in all schools,
but it is possible to use Spanish for studying in the public education system of Catalonia in two situations – if the teacher assigned to a class chooses to use Spanish, or during the learning process of one or more recently arrived immigrant students.
There is also some intergenerational shift towards Catalan.
According to the Statistical Institute of Catalonia
, in 2013 the Catalan language is the second most commonly used in Catalonia, after Spanish
, as a native or self-defining language: 7% of the population self-identifies with both Catalan and Spanish equally, 36.4% with Catalan and 47.5% only Spanish.
In 2003 the same studies concluded no language preference for self-identification within the population above 15 years old: 5% self-identified with both languages, 44.3% with Catalan and 47.5% with Spanish.
To promote use of Catalan, the Generalitat de Catalunya
(Catalonia's official Autonomous government) spends part of its annual budget on the promotion of the use of Catalan in Catalonia and in other territories, with entities such as Consorci per a la Normalització Lingüística [ca; es]
(Consortium for Linguistic Normalization
, Catalan has always been the sole official language.
Since the promulgation of the 1993 constitution
, several policies favoring Catalan have been enforced, like Catalan medium education.
On the other hand, there are several language shift
processes currently taking place. In the Northern Catalonia
area of France, Catalan has followed the same trend as the other minority languages of France, with most of its native speakers being 60 or older (as of 2004).
Catalan is studied as a foreign language by 30% of the primary education students, and by 15% of the secondary.
The cultural association La Bressola
promotes a network of community-run schools engaged in Catalan language immersion programs.
Classification and relationship with other Romance languages
Chart of Romance languages based on structural and comparative criteria (not on socio-functional ones). Koryakov (2001) includes Catalan in Occitano-Romance
, distinct from Iberian Romance
One classification of Catalan is given by Pèire Bèc
Relationship with other Romance languages
Catalan shares many traits with the other neighboring Romance languages
(Occitan, French, Italian
as well as Spanish and Portuguese among others).
However, despite being spoken mostly on the Iberian Peninsula
, Catalan has marked differences with the Iberian Romance
) in terms of pronunciation
, grammar, and especially vocabulary; showing instead its closest affinity with languages native to France and northern Italy, particularly Occitan
and to a lesser extent Gallo-Romance
According to Ethnologue
, the lexical similarity between Catalan and other Romance languages is: 87% with Italian; 85% with Portuguese and Spanish; 76% with Ladin
; 75% with Sardinian; and 73% with Romanian.
Lexical comparison of 24 words among Romance languages:
17 cognates with Gallo-Romance, 5 isoglosses
with Iberian Romance, 3 isoglosses with Occitan, and 1 unique word.
Catalan and Spanish cognates with different meanings
During much of its history, and especially during the Francoist dictatorship
(1939–1975), the Catalan language was ridiculed as a mere dialect of Spanish
This view, based on political and ideological considerations, has no linguistic validity.
Spanish and Catalan have important differences in their sound systems, lexicon, and grammatical features, placing the language in features closer to Occitan
There is evidence that, at least from the 2nd century a.d., the vocabulary and phonology of Roman Tarraconensis
was different from the rest of Roman Hispania.
Differentiation arose generally because Spanish, Asturian
, and Galician-Portuguese share certain peripheral archaisms (Spanish hervir
, Asturian and Portuguese ferver
vs. Catalan bullir
, Occitan bolir
"to boil") and innovatory regionalisms (Sp novillo
, Ast nuviellu
vs. Cat torell
, Oc taurèl
"bullock"), while Catalan has a shared history with the Western Romance innovative core, especially Occitan.
Like all Romance languages, Catalan has a handful of native words which are unique to it, or rare elsewhere. These include:
- verbs: cōnfīgere 'to fasten; transfix' > confegir 'to compose, write up', congemināre > conjuminar 'to combine, conjugate', de-ex-somnitare > deixondar/-ir 'to wake; awaken', dēnsāre 'to thicken; crowd together' > desar 'to save, keep', īgnōrāre > enyorar 'to miss, yearn, pine for', indāgāre 'to investigate, track' > Old Catalan enagar 'to incite, induce', odiāre > OCat ujar 'to exhaust, fatigue', pācificāre > apaivagar 'to appease, mollify', repudiāre > rebutjar 'to reject, refuse';
- nouns: brīsa > brisa 'pomace', buda > boga 'reedmace', catarrhu > cadarn 'catarrh', congesta > congesta 'snowdrift', dēlīrium > deler 'ardor, passion', fretu > freu 'brake', lābem > (a)llau 'avalanche', ōra > vora 'edge, border', pistrice > pestriu 'fish species', prūna 'live coal' > espurna 'spark', tardātiōnem > tardaó > tardor 'autumn'.
superstrate produced different outcomes in Spanish and Catalan. For example, Catalan fang
"mud" and rostir
"to roast", of Germanic origin, contrast with Spanish lodo
, of Latin origin; whereas Catalan filosa
"spinning wheel" and templa
"temple", of Latin origin, contrast with Spanish rueca
, of Germanic origin.
The same happens with Arabic
loanwords. Thus, Catalan alfàbia
"large earthenware jar" and rajola
"tile", of Arabic origin, contrast with Spanish tinaja
, of Latin origin; whereas Catalan oli
"oil" and oliva
"olive", of Latin origin, contrast with Spanish aceite
However, the Arabic element in Spanish is generally much more prevalent.
Situated between two large linguistic blocks (Iberian Romance and Gallo-Romance), Catalan has many unique lexical choices, such as enyorar
"to miss somebody", apaivagar
"to calm somebody down", and rebutjar
Traditionally Catalan-speaking territories in dark gray; non-Catalan-speaking territories belonging to traditionally Catalan-speaking regions in light gray
Traditionally Catalan-speaking territories are sometimes called the Països Catalans
(Catalan Countries), a denomination based on cultural affinity and common heritage, that has also had a subsequent political interpretation but no official status. Various interpretations of the term may include some or all of these regions.
Territories where Catalan is spoken
Number of speakers
The number of people known to be fluent in Catalan varies depending on the sources used. A 2004 study did not count the total number of speakers, but estimated a total of 9–9.5 million by matching the percentage of speakers to the population of each area where Catalan is spoken.
The web site of the Generalitat de Catalunya
estimated that as of 2004 there were 9,118,882 speakers of Catalan.
These figures only reflect potential speakers; today it is the native language of only 35.6% of the Catalan population.
According to Ethnologue
, Catalan had four million native speakers and five million second-language speakers in 2012.
According to a 2011 study the total number of Catalan speakers is over 9.8 million, with 5.9 million residing in Catalonia. More than half of them speak Catalan as a second language, with native speakers being about 4.4 million of those (more than 2.8 in Catalonia).
Very few Catalan monoglots
exist; basically, virtually all of the Catalan speakers in Spain are bilingual
speakers of Catalan and Spanish, with a sizable population of Spanish-only speakers of immigrant origin (typically born outside Catalonia or with both parents born outside Catalonia)
existing in the major Catalan urban areas as well. In Roussillon
, only a minority of French Catalans speak Catalan nowadays, with French being the majority language for the inhabitants after a continued process of language shift
. According to a 2019 survey by the Catalan government, 31.5% of the inhabitants of Catalonia have Catalan as first language at home whereas 52.7% have Spanish, 2.8% both Catalan and Spanish and 10.8% other languages.
is the most spoken language in Barcelona (according to the linguistic census held by the Government of Catalonia in 2013) and it is understood almost universally. According to this census of 2013 Catalan is also very commonly spoken in the city of 1,501,262: it is understood by 95% of the population, while 72.3% over the age of 2 can speak it (1,137,816), 79% can read it (1,246.555), and 53% can write it (835,080).
The proportion in Barcelona who can speak it, 72.3%,
is lower than that of the overall Catalan population, of whom 81.2% over the age of 15 speak the language. Knowledge of Catalan has increased significantly in recent decades thanks to a language immersion
educational system. An important social characteristic of the Catalan language is that all the areas where it is spoken are bilingual in practice: together with the French language in Roussillon, with Italian in Alghero, with Spanish and French in Andorra and with Spanish in the rest of the territories.
The number of people who understand Catalan includes those who can speak it.
Figures relate to all self-declared capable speakers, not just native speakers.
Level of knowledge
(% of the population 15 years old and older).
(% of the population 15 years old and older).
Catalan phonology varies by dialect. Notable features include:
In contrast to other Romance languages, Catalan has many monosyllabic
words, and these may end in a wide variety of consonants, including some consonant clusters
Additionally, Catalan has final obstruent devoicing
, which gives rise to an abundance of such couplets as amic
"(male friend") vs. amiga
pronunciation is considered to be standard for the language.
The descriptions below are mostly representative of this variety.
For the differences in pronunciation between the different dialects, see the section on pronunciation of dialects
in this article.
of Standard Eastern Catalan
Catalan has inherited the typical vowel system of Vulgar Latin
, with seven stressed phonemes: /a ɛ e i ɔ o u/, a common feature in Western Romance
, with the exception of Spanish
also has instances of stressed /ə/.
Dialects differ in the different degrees of vowel reduction
and the incidence of the pair /ɛ e/.
In Central Catalan
, unstressed vowels reduce to three: /a e ɛ/ > [ə]; /o ɔ u/ > [u]; /i/ remains distinct.
The other dialects have different vowel reduction processes (see the section pronunciation of dialects
in this article).
Examples of vowel reduction processes in Central Catalan
The root is stressed in the first word and unstressed in the second
The consonant system of Catalan is rather conservative.
- /l/ has a velarized allophone in syllable coda position in most dialects. However, /l/ is velarized irrespective of position in Eastern dialects like Majorcan and standard Eastern Catalan.
- /v/ occurs in Balearic, Algherese, standard Valencian and some areas in southern Catalonia. It has merged with /b/ elsewhere.
- Voiced obstruents undergo final-obstruent devoicing: /b/ > [p], /d/ > [t], /ɡ/ > [k].
- Voiced stops become lenited to approximants in syllable onsets, after continuants: /b/ > [β], /d/ > [ð], /ɡ/ > [ɣ]. Exceptions include /d/ after lateral consonants, and /b/ after /f/. In coda position, these sounds are realized as stops, except in some Valencian dialects where they are lenited.
- There is some confusion in the literature about the precise phonetic characteristics of /ʃ/, /ʒ/, /tʃ/, /dʒ/. Some sources describe them as "postalveolar". Others as "back alveolo-palatal", implying that the characters ⟨ɕ ʑ tɕ dʑ⟩ would be more accurate. However, in all literature only the characters for palato-alveolar affricates and fricatives are used, even when the same sources use ⟨ɕ ʑ⟩ for other languages like Polish and Chinese.
- The distribution of the two rhotics /r/ and /ɾ/ closely parallels that of Spanish. Between vowels, the two contrast, but they are otherwise in complementary distribution: in the onset of the first syllable in a word, [r] appears unless preceded by a consonant. Dialects vary in regards to rhotics in the coda with Western Catalan generally featuring [ɾ] and Central Catalan dialects featuring a weakly trilled [r] unless it precedes a vowel-initial word in the same prosodic unit, in which case [ɾ] appears.
- In careful speech, /n/, /m/, /l/ may be geminated. Geminated /ʎ/ may also occur. Some analyze intervocalic [r] as the result of gemination of a single rhotic phoneme. This is similar to the common analysis of Spanish and Portuguese rhotics.
studies the situation of Catalan in the world and the different varieties that this language presents. It is a subdiscipline of Catalan philology
and other affine studies and has as an objective to analyze the relation between the Catalan language, the speakers and the close reality (including the one of other languages in contact).
Preferential subjects of study
- Dialects of Catalan
- Variations of Catalan by class, gender, profession, age and level of studies
- Process of linguistic normalization
- Relations between Catalan and Spanish or French
- Perception on the language of Catalan speakers and non-speakers
- Presence of Catalan in several fields: tagging, public function, media, professional sectors
The dialects of the Catalan language feature a relative uniformity, especially when compared to other Romance languages;
both in terms of vocabulary
, and phonology
Mutual intelligibility between dialects is very high,
estimates ranging from 90% to 95%.
The only exception is the isolated idiosyncratic Algherese dialect
Catalan is split in two major dialectal blocks: Eastern Catalan, and Western Catalan.
The main difference lies in the treatment of unstressed a
; which have merged to /ə/ in Eastern dialects, but which remain distinct as /a/ and /e/ in Western dialects.
There are a few other differences in pronunciation, verbal morphology, and vocabulary.
Central Catalan is considered the standard pronunciation of the language and has the highest number of speakers.
It is spoken in the densely populated regions of the Barcelona province
, the eastern half of the province of Tarragona, and most of the province of Girona.
Catalan has an inflectional grammar. Nouns have two genders
(masculine, feminine), and two numbers
(singular, plural). Pronouns additionally can have a neuter gender, and some are also inflected for case
, and can be combined in very complex ways. Verbs are split in several paradigms and are inflected for person
, and gender
. In terms of pronunciation, Catalan has many words ending in a wide variety of consonants and some consonant clusters, in contrast with many other Romance languages.
Main dialectal divisions of Catalan
In Eastern Catalan
(except Majorcan), unstressed vowels reduce to three: /a e ɛ/ > [ə]; /o ɔ u/ > [u]; /i/ remains distinct.
There are a few instances of unreduced [e], [o] in some words. Algherese
has lowered [ə] to [a].
In Majorcan, unstressed vowels reduce to four: /a e ɛ/ follow the Eastern Catalan reduction pattern; however /o ɔ/ reduce to [o], with /u/ remaining distinct, as in Western Catalan.
In Western Catalan
, unstressed vowels reduce to five: /e ɛ/ > [e]; /o ɔ/ > [o]; /a u i/ remain distinct.
This reduction pattern, inherited from Proto-Romance
, is also found in Italian
Some Western dialects present further reduction or vowel harmony in some cases.
Central, Western, and Balearic differ in the lexical incidence of stressed /e/ and /ɛ/.
Usually, words with /ɛ/ in Central Catalan correspond to /ə/ in Balearic and /e/ in Western Catalan.
Words with /e/ in Balearic almost always have /e/ in Central and Western Catalan as well.[vague]
As a result, Central Catalan has a much higher incidence of /ɛ/.
Different incidence of stressed /e/, /ə/, /ɛ/
General differences in the pronunciation of unstressed vowels in different dialects
Detailed examples of vowel reduction processes in different dialects
This section needs expansion
. You can help by adding to it
. (March 2014)
Western Catalan: In verbs, the ending for 1st-person present indicative is -e in verbs of the 1st conjugation and -∅ in verbs of the 2nd and 3rd conjugations in most of the Valencian Community, or -o in all verb conjugations in the Northern Valencian Community and Western Catalonia.
E.g. parle, tem, sent (Valencian); parlo, temo, sento (Northwestern Catalan).
Eastern Catalan: In verbs, the ending for 1st-person present indicative is -o, -i, or -∅ in all conjugations.
E.g. parlo (Central), parl (Balearic), and parli (Northern), all meaning ('I speak').
1st-person singular present indicative forms
Western Catalan: In verbs, the inchoative endings are -isc/-esc, -ix, -ixen, -isca/-esca.
Eastern Catalan: In verbs, the inchoative endings are -eixo, -eix, -eixen, -eixi.
Western Catalan: In nouns and adjectives, maintenance of /n/ of medieval plurals in proparoxytone
Eastern Catalan: In nouns and adjectives, loss of /n/ of medieval plurals in proparoxytone words.
'youth' (Ibicencan, however, follows the model of Western Catalan in this case
Despite its relative lexical unity, the two dialectal blocks of Catalan (Eastern and Western) show some differences in word choices.
Any lexical divergence within any of the two groups can be explained as an archaism. Also, usually Central Catalan
acts as an innovative element.
Selection of different words between Western and Eastern Catalan
Casa de Convalescència, Headquarters of the Institut d'Estudis Catalans
Standard Catalan, virtually accepted by all speakers,
is mostly based on Eastern Catalan,
which is the most widely used dialect. Nevertheless, the standards of the Valencian Community and the Balearics admit alternative forms, mostly traditional ones, which are not current in eastern Catalonia.
The most notable difference between both standards is some tonic ⟨e⟩ accentuation, for instance: francès, anglès (IEC) – francés, anglés (AVL). Nevertheless, AVL's standard keeps the grave accent ⟨è⟩, while pronouncing it as /e/ rather than /ɛ/, in some words like: què ('what'), or València. Other divergences include the use of ⟨tl⟩ (AVL) in some words instead of ⟨tll⟩ like in ametla/ametlla ('almond'), espatla/espatlla ('back'), the use of elided demonstratives (este 'this', eixe 'that') in the same level as reinforced ones (aquest, aqueix) or the use of many verbal forms common in Valencian, and some of these common in the rest of Western Catalan too, like subjunctive mood or inchoative conjugation in -ix- at the same level as -eix- or the priority use of -e morpheme in 1st person singular in present indicative (-ar verbs): jo compre instead of jo compro ('I buy').
In the Balearic Islands, IEC's standard is used but adapted for the Balearic dialect by the University of the Balearic Islands
's philological section. In this way, for instance, IEC says it is correct writing cantam
as much as cantem
('we sing') but the University says that the priority form in the Balearic Islands must be cantam
in all fields. Another feature of the Balearic standard is the non-ending in the 1st person singular present indicative: jo compr
('I buy'), jo tem
('I fear'), jo dorm
In Alghero, the IEC has adapted its standard to the Algherese
dialect. In this standard one can find, among other features: the definite article lo
instead of el
, special possessive pronouns and determinants la mia
('mine'), lo sou/la sua
('his/her'), lo tou/la tua
('yours'), and so on, the use of -v-
/v/ in the imperfect tense in all conjugations: cantava
; the use of many archaic words, usual words in Algherese: manco
instead of menys
('less'), calqui u
instead of algú
instead of quin/quina
('which'), and so on; and the adaptation of weak pronouns
government passed a decree approving the statutes of a new language regulator of Catalan in La Franja
(the so-called Catalan-speaking areas of Aragon) as originally provided for by Law 10/2009.
The new entity, designated as Acadèmia Aragonesa del Català
, shall allow a facultative education in Catalan and a standardization of the Catalan language in La Franja
has original text related to this article:
Subdialects of Valencian
Valencian is classified as a Western
dialect, along with the northwestern
varieties spoken in Western Catalonia (provinces of Lleida
and the western half of Tarragona
The various forms of Catalan and Valencian are mutually intelligible (ranging from 90% to 95%)
Linguists, including Valencian scholars, deal with Catalan and Valencian as the same language. The official regulating body of the language of the Valencian Community, the Valencian Academy of Language
(Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua,
AVL) declares the linguistic unity between Valencian and Catalan varieties.
[T]he historical patrimonial language of the Valencian people
, from a philological standpoint, is the same shared by the autonomous communities of Catalonia
and Balearic islands
, and Principality of Andorra
. Additionally, it is the patrimonial historical language of other territories of the ancient Crown of Aragon
[...] The different varieties of these territories constitute a language, that is, a "linguistic system" [...] From this group of varieties, Valencian has the same hierarchy and dignity as any other dialectal modality of that linguistic system [...]
Ruling of the Valencian Language Academy of 9 February 2005, extract of point 1.
The AVL, created by the Valencian parliament, is in charge of dictating the official rules governing the use of Valencian, and its standard is based on the Norms of Castelló (Normes de Castelló
). Currently, everyone who writes in Valencian uses this standard, except the Royal Academy of Valencian Culture (Acadèmia de Cultura Valenciana
, RACV), which uses for Valencian an independent standard.
Despite the position of the official organizations, an opinion poll carried out between 2001 and 2004
showed that the majority of the Valencian people consider Valencian different from Catalan. This position is promoted by people who do not use Valencian regularly.
Furthermore, the data indicates that younger generations educated in Valencian are much less likely to hold these views. A minority of Valencian scholars active in fields other than linguistics defends the position of the Royal Academy of Valencian Culture (Acadèmia de Cultura Valenciana
, RACV), which uses for Valencian a standard independent from Catalan.
This clash of opinions has sparked much controversy. For example, during the drafting of the European Constitution
in 2004, the Spanish government supplied the EU
with translations of the text into Basque
, Catalan, and Valencian, but the latter two were identical.
Despite its relative lexical unity, the two dialectal blocks of Catalan (Eastern and Western) show some differences in word choices.
Any lexical divergence within any of the two groups can be explained as an archaism. Also, usually Central Catalan
acts as an innovative element.
Literary Catalan allows the use of words from different dialects, except those of very restricted use.
However, from the 19th century onwards, there has been a tendency towards favoring words of Northern dialects to the detriment of others, even though nowadays there is a greater freedom of choice.[clarify]
Latin and Greek loanwords
Like other languages, Catalan has a large list of loanwords from Greek and Latin. This process started very early, and one can find such examples in Ramon Llull
In the 14th and 15th centuries Catalan had a far greater number of Greco-Latin loanwords than other Romance languages, as is attested for example in Roís de Corella
The incorporation of learned, or "bookish" words from its own ancestor language, Latin
, into Catalan is arguably another form of lexical borrowing through the influence of written language
and the liturgical language of the Church. Throughout the Middle Ages and into the early modern period, most literate Catalan speakers were also literate in Latin; and thus they easily adopted Latin words into their writing—and eventually speech—in Catalan.
The process of morphological derivation
in Catalan follows the same principles as the other Romance languages
is common. Many times, several affixes are appended to a preexisting lexeme, and some sound alternations can occur, for example elèctric
] ("electrical") vs. electricitat
are usually appended to verbs, as in preveure
There is greater regularity in the process of word-compounding
, where one can find compounded words formed much like those in English.
Common types of word compounds in Catalan
The word novel·la ("novel") in a dictionary. The geminated L (l·l) is a distinctive character used in Catalan.
Billboard in Barcelona
(detail), showing the word il·lusió
Catalan uses the Latin script
, with some added symbols and digraphs.
The Catalan orthography
is systematic and largely phonologically based.
Standardization of Catalan was among the topics discussed during the First International Congress of the Catalan Language, held in Barcelona October 1906. Subsequently, the Philological Section of the Institut d'Estudis Catalans (IEC, founded in 1911) published the Normes ortogràfiques
in 1913 under the direction of Antoni Maria Alcover
and Pompeu Fabra
. In 1932, Valencian writers and intellectuals gathered in Castelló de la Plana
to make a formal adoption of the so-called Normes de Castelló
, a set of guidelines following Pompeu Fabra's Catalan language norms.
Pronunciation of Catalan special characters and digraphs (Central Catalan)
Letters and digraphs with contextually conditioned pronunciations (Central Catalan)
Gender and number inflection
Gender and number inflection of the word gat ("cat")
Regular noun with definite article: el gat ("the cat")
Adjective with 4 forms:
Adjective with 3 forms:
Adjective with 2 forms:
In gender inflection
, the most notable feature is (compared to Portuguese
), the loss of the typical masculine suffix -o
. Thus, the alternance of -o
, has been replaced by ø
There are only a few exceptions, like minso
Many not completely predictable morphological alternations may occur, such as:
- Affrication: boig/boja ("insane") vs. lleig/lletja ("ugly")
- Loss of n: pla/plana ("flat") vs. segon/segona ("second")
- Final obstruent devoicing: sentit/sentida ("felt") vs. dit/dita ("said")
Catalan has few suppletive
couplets, like Italian and Spanish, and unlike French. Thus, Catalan has noi
("boy"/"girl") and gall
("cock"/"hen"), whereas French has garçon
There is a tendency to abandon traditionally gender-invariable adjectives in favor of marked ones, something prevalent in Occitan
and French. Thus, one can find bullent
("boiling") in contrast with traditional bullent
As in the other Western Romance languages, the main plural expression is the suffix -s
, which may create morphological alternations similar to the ones found in gender inflection, albeit more rarely.
The most important one is the addition of -o-
before certain consonant groups, a phonetic
phenomenon that does not affect feminine forms: el pols
("the pulse"/"the pulses") vs. la pols
("the dust"/"the dusts").
Sign in the town square of Begur
, Catalonia, Spain. In plaça de la vila
(literally "square of the town"), since the noun vila
("town") is feminine singular, the definite article carries the corresponding form, la
Definite article in Standard Catalan
(elided forms in brackets)
Contractions of the definite article
The inflection of determinatives is complex, specially because of the high number of elisions, but is similar to the neighboring languages.
Catalan has more contractions of preposition + article than Spanish
, like dels
("of + the [plural]"), but not as many as Italian
(which has sul
Central Catalan has abandoned almost completely unstressed possessives (mon
, etc.) in favor of constructions of article + stressed forms (el meu
, etc.), a feature shared with Italian.
Catalan stressed pronouns
The morphology of Catalan personal pronouns is complex, specially in unstressed forms, which are numerous (13 distinct forms, compared to 11 in Spanish or 9 in Italian).
Features include the gender-neutral ho
and the great degree of freedom when combining different unstressed pronouns (65 combinations).
Catalan pronouns exhibit T–V distinction
, like all other Romance languages (and most European languages, but not Modern English). This feature implies the use of a different set of second person pronouns for formality.
This flexibility allows Catalan to use extraposition
extensively, much more than French or Spanish. Thus, Catalan can have m'hi recomanaren
("they recommended me to him"), whereas in French one must say ils m'ont recommandé à lui
, and Spanish me recomendaron a él
This allows the placement of almost any nominal term as a sentence topic
, without having to use so often the passive voice
(as in French or English
), or identifying the direct object
with a preposition
(as in Spanish).
Simple forms of a regular verb of the first conjugation: portar
Like all the Romance languages, Catalan verbal inflection is more complex than the nominal. Suffixation
is omnipresent, whereas morphological alternations play a secondary role.
Vowel alternances are active, as well as infixation and suppletion. However, these are not as productive as in Spanish, and are mostly restricted to irregular verbs.
The Catalan verbal system is basically common to all Western Romance, except that most dialects have replaced the synthetic indicative perfect with a periphrastic form of anar
("to go") + infinitive.
Catalan verbs are traditionally divided into three conjugations, with vowel themes -a-
, the last two being split into two subtypes. However, this division is mostly theoretical.
Only the first conjugation is nowadays productive (with about 3500 common verbs), whereas the third (the subtype of servir
, with about 700 common verbs) is semiproductive. The verbs of the second conjugation are fewer than 100, and it is not possible to create new ones, except by compounding.
The grammar of Catalan follows the general pattern of Western Romance languages. The primary word order
However, word order is very flexible. Commonly, verb-subject constructions are used to achieve a semantic effect. The sentence "The train has arrived" could be translated as Ha arribat el tren
or El tren ha arribat
. Both sentences mean "the train has arrived", but the former puts a focus on the train, while the latter puts a focus on the arrival. This subtle distinction is described as "what you might say while waiting in the station" versus "what you might say on the train."
, every person officially has two surnames, one of which is the father's first surname and the other is the mother's first surname.
The law contemplates the possibility of joining both surnames with the Catalan conjunction i
from Manuel de Pedrolo
's 1970 novel Un amor fora ciutat
("A love affair outside the city").
- ^ The Valencian Normative Dictionary of the Valencian Academy of the Language states that Valencian is a "Romance language spoken in the Valencian Community, as well as in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, the French department of the Pyrénées-Orientales, the Principality of Andorra, the eastern flank of Aragon and the Sardinian town of Alghero (unique in Italy), where it receives the name of 'Catalan'."
- ^ The Catalan Language Dictionary of the Institut d'Estudis Catalans states in the sixth definition of "Valencian" that, in the Valencian Community, it is equivalent to Catalan language.
- ^ "Catalan". Ethnologue. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
- ^ "InformeCAT 50 dades sobre la llengua catalana" (PDF) (in Catalan). 7 June 2018. Report on the Catalan language by Plataforma per la Llengua based on recent reference sociolinguistic surveys
- ^ a b Some Iberian scholars may alternatively classify Catalan as Iberian Romance/East Iberian.
- ^ https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Catalan
- ^ a b Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student's Handbook, Edinburgh
- ^ Minder, Raphael (21 November 2016). "Italy's Last Bastion of Catalan Language Struggles to Keep It Alive". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
- ^ a b c Wheeler 2010, pp. 190–191.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Costa Carreras & Yates 2009, pp. 6–7.
- ^ García Venero 2006.
- ^ https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Catalan
- ^ a b c d Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua (9 February 2005). "Acord de l'Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua (AVL), adoptat en la reunió plenària del 9 de febrer del 2005, pel qual s'aprova el dictamen sobre els principis i criteris per a la defensa de la denominació i l'entitat del valencià" (PDF) (in Valencian). p. 52. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- ^ Lledó 2011, pp. 334–337.
- ^ Veny 1997, pp. 9–18.
- ^ a b c Moran 2004, pp. 37–38.
- ^ Trobes en llaors de la Verge Maria ("Poems of praise of the Virgin Mary") 1474.
- ^ "L'interdiction de la langue catalane en Roussillon par Louis XIV" (PDF). "CRDP, Académie de Montpellier. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 December 2010.
- ^ "Charte en faveur du Catalan". Archived from the original on 22 December 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2010. "La catalanitat a la Catalunya Nord". Archived from the original on 9 March 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
- ^ Costa Carreras 2007, pp. 10–11.
- ^ Burgen, Stephen (22 November 2012). "Catalan: a language that has survived against the odds". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
- ^ Boada, Irene. "The rebirth of Catalan: how a once-banned language is thriving". The Conversation. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
- ^ Armora, Esther (9 September 2013). "Cataluña ordena incumplir las sentencias sobre el castellano en las escuelas" [Catalonia orders violate the judgments on the Castilian in schools]. ABC (in Spanish). Retrieved 10 September 2013.
- ^ "Idescat. Annual indicators. Language uses. First language, language of identification and habitual language. Results". Institut d’Estadística de Catalunya.
- ^ "Idescat. Demographics and quality of life. Language uses. First language, language of identification and habitual language. 2003. Results". Institut d’Estadística de Catalunya. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
- ^ "2010 Language Policy Report". Generalitat de Catalunya. Archived from the original on 15 April 2014.
- ^ "CPNL".
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Enciclopèdia Catalana, p. 632.
- ^ a b c d e Schlösser 2005, p. 60f.
- ^ Ross, Marc Howard (2007). Cultural Contestation in Ethnic Conflict. Cambridge University Press. p. 139. ISBN 9781139463072.
- ^ a b Colón 1993, pp. 33–35.
- ^ Simons, Gary F.; Fennig, Charles D. (2018). "Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Twenty-first edition". Ethnologue. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
- ^ a b Portuguese and Spanish have estiagem and estiaje, respectively, for drought, dry season or low water levels.
- ^ a b Portuguese and Spanish have véspera and víspera, respectively, for eve, or the day before.
- ^ Spanish also has trozo, and it is actually a borrowing from Catalan tros. Colón 1993, p 39. Portuguese has troço, but aside from also being a loanword, it has a very different meaning: "thing", "gadget", "tool", "paraphernalia".
- ^ Modern Spanish also has gris, but it is a modern borrowing from Occitan. The original word was pardo, which stands for "reddish, yellow-orange, medium-dark and of moderate to weak saturation. It also can mean ochre, pale ochre, dark ohre, brownish, tan, greyish, grey, desaturated, dirty, dark, or opaque." Gallego, Rosa; Sanz, Juan Carlos (2001). Diccionario Akal del color (in Spanish). Akal. ISBN 978-84-460-1083-8.
- ^ A 20th century introduction from French.
- ^ Colón 1993, p. 55.
- ^ "Sociolinguistic situation in Catalan-speaking areas. Tables. Official data about the sociolinguistic situation in Catalan-speaking areas: Catalonia (2003), Andorra (2004), the Balearic Islands (2004), Aragonese Border (2004), Northern Catalonia (2004), Alghero (2004) and Valencian Community (2004)". Generalitat of Catalonia. 7 August 2008. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
- ^ Catalan, language of Europe (PDF), Generalitat of Catalonia, archived from the original (PDF) on 22 December 2012, retrieved 13 March 2012
- ^ Población según lengua habitual. Datos comparados 2003–2008. Cataluña. Año 2008, Encuesta de Usos Lingüísticos de la población (2003 y 2008), Instituto de Estadística de Cataluña
- ^ Informe sobre la situació de la llengua catalana [Report on the situation of the Catalan language] (PDF) (in Catalan), Xarxa CRUSCAT, 2011, archived from the original (PDF) on 23 January 2013
- ^ Geli, Carles (8 July 2019). "El uso del catalán crece: lo entiende el 94,4% y lo habla el 81,2%". El País (in Spanish). ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
- ^ Departament d'Estadística. Ajuntament de Barcelona (2011). "Coneixement del català: Evolució de les característiques de la població de Barcelona (Knowledge of Catalan in Barcelona)". Ajuntament de Barcelona (in Catalan). Archived from the original on 31 December 2015. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
- ^ "Coneixement del català: Evolució de les característiques de la població de Barcelona (Knowledge of Catalan in Barcelona)". Ajuntament de Barcelona (in Catalan). 2011. Archived from the original on 31 December 2015. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
- ^ a b Sources:
- Catalonia: Statistic data of 2001 census, from Institut d'Estadística de Catalunya, Generalitat de Catalunya .
- Land of Valencia: Statistical data from 2001 census, from Institut Valencià d'Estadística, Generalitat Valenciana "Archived copy"(PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 September 2005. Retrieved 23 June 2005..
- Land of Valencia: Statistical data from 2001 census, from Institut Valencià d'Estadística, Generalitat Valenciana  Archived 16 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
- Balearic Islands: Statistical data from 2001 census, from Institut Balear d'Estadística, Govern de les Illes Balears .
- Northern Catalonia: Media Pluriel Survey commissioned by Prefecture of Languedoc-Roussillon Region done in October 1997 and published in January 1998 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 April 2005. Retrieved 23 June 2005..
- Andorra: Sociolinguistic data from Andorran Government, 1999.
- Aragon: Sociolinguistic data from Euromosaic .
- Alguer: Sociolinguistic data from Euromosaic .
- Rest of World: Estimate for 1999 by the Federació d'Entitats Catalanes outside the Catalan Countries.
- ^ "Enquesta d'usos lingüístics de la població. 2018" [Survey of the linguistic usage of the population. 2018]. IDESCAT/Generalitat de Catalunya (in Catalan). 2019.
- ^ Red Cruscat del Instituto de Estudios Catalanes
- ^ "Tv3 - Telediario: La salud del catalán - YouTube". Archived from the original on 16 May 2015.
- ^ "El català no avança en la incorporació de nous parlants" [Catalan is not progressing in the incorporation of new speakers]. Telenotícies (in Catalan). 23 October 2007. Archived from the original on 24 November 2007.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Enciclopèdia Catalana, p. 630.
- ^ Wheeler 2005 takes the same approach
- ^ a b Wheeler 2005, pp. 37, 53–54.
- ^ a b Wheeler 2005, pp. 53–55.
- ^ Carbonell & Llisterri 1999, pp. 61–65.
- ^ Hualde, José (1992). Catalan. Routledge. p. 368. ISBN 978-0-415-05498-0.
- ^ Recasens, Fontdevila & Pallarès 1995, p. 288.
- ^ Recasens 1993. Here Recasens labels these Catalan sounds as "laminoalveolars palatalitzades".
- ^ Recasens & Pallarès 2001. Here the authors label these Catalan sounds as "laminal postalveolar".
- ^ See Bonet, Eulàlia; Mascaró, Joan (1997). "On the Representation of Contrasting Rhotics". In Martínez-Gil, Fernando; Morales-Front, Alfonso (eds.). Issues in the Phonology and Morphology of the Major Iberian Languages. Georgetown University Press. ISBN 978-0-87840-647-0. for more information.
- ^ a b Enciclopèdia Catalana, pp. 634–635.
- ^ a b Central Catalan has 90% to 95% inherent intelligibility for speakers of Valencian (1989 R. Hall, Jr.), cited in Ethnologue.
- ^ Dictamen de l'Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua sobre els principis i criteris per a la defensa de la denominació i l'entitat del valencià [Resolution of the Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua concerning the principles and criteria for protecting the name and identity of Valencian] (PDF) (in Valencian), Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua, 2005, archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2015
- ^ a b Wheeler 2005, pp. 2–3.
- ^ Wheeler 2005, pp. 53–54.
- ^ Carbonell & Llisterri 1999, pp. 54–55.
- ^ Recasens 1996, pp. 75–76, 128–129.
- ^ Moll, Francesc de B. (Francesc de Borja), 1903-1991 (1968). Gramática catalana; referida especialment a les Illes Balears. Palma de Mallorca: Editorial Moll. ISBN 84-273-0044-1. OCLC 2108762.
- ^ Decreto 89/2011, de 5 de abril, del Gobierno de Aragón, por el que se aprueban los Estatutos de la Academia Aragonesa del Catalán. BOA núm. 77, de 18 de abril de 2011
- ^ Ley 10/2009, de 22 de diciembre, de uso, protección y promoción de las lenguas propias de Aragón BOE núm. 30, de 4 de febrero de 2010.
- ^ Original full text of Dictamen 1: D’acord amb les aportacions més solvents de la romanística acumulades des del segle XIX fins a l’actualitat (estudis de gramàtica històrica, de dialectologia, de sintaxi, de lexicografia…), la llengua pròpia i històrica dels valencians, des del punt de vista de la filologia, és també la que compartixen les comunitats autònomes de Catalunya i de les Illes Balears i el Principat d’Andorra. Així mateix és la llengua històrica i pròpia d’altres territoris de l’antiga Corona d’Aragó (la franja oriental aragonesa, la ciutat sarda de l’Alguer i el departament francés dels Pirineus Orientals). Els diferents parlars de tots estos territoris constituïxen una llengua, és a dir, un mateix «sistema lingüístic», segons la terminologia del primer estructuralisme (annex 1) represa en el Dictamen del Consell Valencià de Cultura, que figura com a preàmbul de la Llei de Creació de l’AVL. Dins d’eixe conjunt de parlars, el valencià té la mateixa jerarquia i dignitat que qualsevol altra modalitat territorial del sistema lingüístic, i presenta unes característiques pròpies que l’AVL preservarà i potenciarà d’acord amb la tradició lexicogràfica i literària pròpia, la realitat lingüística valenciana i la normativització consolidada a partir de les Normes de Castelló.
- ^ "Casi el 65% de los valencianos opina que su lengua es distinta al catalán, según una encuesta del CIS" [Almost 65% of Valencians believe that their language is different from Catalan, according to a CIS survey]. La Vanguardia (in Spanish). Europa Press. 9 December 2004.
- ^ "Llistat dels Acadèmics de número" [List of RACV academics]. Real Acadèmia de Cultura Valenciana (in Valencian). Archived from the original on 14 December 2016.
- ^ Isabel i Vilar, Ferran (30 October 2004). "Traducció única de la Constitució europea" [Unique translation of the European Constitution]. I-Zefir (in Valencian). Retrieved 29 April 2009.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Enciclopèdia Catalana, p. 631.
- ^ Carreras, Joan Costa, ed. (2009). The Architect of Modern Catalan: Selected writings. Translated by Yates, Alan. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 978-9027289247.
- ^ a b c d e f Swan 2001, pp. 97–98.
- ^ Enciclopèdia Catalana, pp. 630–631.
- ^ Fabra 1926, pp. 29–30.
- ^ Archaic in most dialects.
- ^ Fabra 1926, pp. 70–71.
- ^ "Catalan". World Atlas of Language Structures (WALS) Online.
- ^ article 19.1 of Law 1/1998 stipulates that "the citizens of Catalonia have the right to use the proper regulation of their Catalan names and surnames and to introduce the conjunction between surnames"
- Dictamen sobre els principis i criteris per a la defensa de la denominació i l'entitat del valencià (in Catalan), Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua, 9 February 2005
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