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Catalan language

Catalan (Català, Valencià) is a Romance language (see also Iberian Romance Languages) spoken in a territory populated by some 11 million people that spans the states of Spain, France, Andorra and Italy:

All these areas are informally called Països catalans (or Catalan countries), a denomination based originally on cultural affinity and common heritage, that has been later interpreted politically by some.

Total speakers: 5·106active speakers & 12·106 passive
Language codes
ISO 639-1: ca
ISO 639-2: cat

Estimates of the number of Catalan speakers vary from four million to 10.8 million. [1] [1] [1] [1]

Catalan developed by the 9th century from Vulgar Latin on both sides of the Pyrenees mountains (counties of Rosselló, Empuries, Besalú, Cerdanya, Urgell, Pallars and Ribagorça). It shares features with Gallo-romanic and Ibero-romanic, and it could be said to be in its beginnings no more than an eccentric dialect of Occitan (or of Western Romanic). The language was spread to the south by the Reconquista in several phases: Barcelona and Tarragona, Lleida and Tortosa, the ancient Kingdom of Valencia, and transplanted to the Balearic Islands and l'Alguer.

Several characteristic features of Catalan as a Romance language (SAMPA phonetic scheme used):

See also specific articles on: Alguerese, Balearic, Ribagorçan, Valencian

A summary of the phonemes of contemporary Catalan, their graphemes and sounds (SAMPA phonetic scheme used):


Plosives in final position become voiceless.


Affricates in final position become voiceless. Word final /ts,tS/ followed by a vowel become voiced (liaison).


Fricatives in final position become voiceless. Word final /s,S/ followed by a vowel become voiced (liaison).


Nasals in final position retain distinct point or articulation, unlike in Spanish or French.




The Standard vocalic system has seven different vowels in stressed position /A,E,e,i,O,o,u/, but only [ə,i,u] can appear in unstressed positions. In most of Balearics, /ə/ (written 'e','è') can be a distinct phoneme as well in stressed position. In Valencian and Nordoccidental Catalan [e,o] can appear as well in unstressed positions.

In fact these differences in the vocalic systems are one the main criteria used to diferentiate between the major dialects:

Unlike Spanish or French, contiguous vowels normally form 'decreasing' diphthongs and not 'increasing' ones. Examples: But:
Some common phrases

Table of contents
1 See also
2 Bibliography to learn Catalan
3 External links

See also

Bibliography to learn Catalan

External links

There is a Catalan Wikipedia.