Catalan is a romance language, the national language of Catalonia, and a co-official language in the Spanish autonomous communities of Balearic Islands, Valencia, Andorra and in the city of L'Alguer in the Italian island of Sardinia. It is also spoken, although with no official recognition, in the autonomous communities of Aragon (in La Franja) and Murcia (in El Carxe) in Spain, and in Northern Catalonia, a historical region of Catalonia in southern France, which is more or less equivalent to the département of the Pyrénées-Orientales.

Catalan is very similar to Occitan. (See also Occitan language: Differences between Occitan and Catalan and Gallo-Romance languages.) Like many modern languages, Catalan contains numerous words originally borrowed from other languages: Germanic (Ramon:[2] Raymond, espia: spy,[3] ganivet: knife, guerra: war... and place names ending in -reny, such as Gliscareny), French (brioix: brioche, garatge: garage, fitxa: card...), Italian (piano: piano, macarró: macaroni, pantà: marsh, finestra: window, porta: gate...), Occitan (espasa: sword, beutat: beauty, daurar: to gild, suffixal -aire...), Arabic and Mozarabic (alcohol: spirit, sucre: sugar, alcova: bedroom... and most of toponymy like Benicàssim, Albocàsser...), from Spanish (senzill: easy, xoriço: kind of salami, amo: owner, burro: donkey...), from Basque (esquerra: left, isard: surly, estalviar: to save money... and toponymy as Aran, Benavarri or Algerri...) and from English (bar, web, revòlver...)

Geographic distribution

Catalan is spoken in:
1 - Catalonia (Catalunya).
2 - Coastal areas in the Valencian Community (Comunitat Valenciana), in Spain, where it's called Valencian.
3 - An adjacent strip (Franja de Ponent) of Aragon, Spain, in particular the comarques of Ribagorça, Llitera, Baix Cinca, and Matarranya.
4 - Balearic Islands (Illes Balears i Pitiüsses), in Spain. * Andorra (Principat d'Andorra).
5 - Northern Catalonia (Catalunya Nord) (unofficial names), in France.
6 - The city of Alghero (l'Alguer) on Sardinia.
7 - A small region in Murcia, Spain, known as Carxe in Catalan. All these areas may be known as Catalan Countries (Catalan: Països Catalans), a denomination based on cultural affinity and common heritage, that have also had a subsequent political interpretation but no official status.


In 1861, Manuel Milà i Fontanals proposed a division of Catalan into two major dialect blocks: Eastern Catalan and Western Catalan. Each dialect also encompasses several regional varieties. Educated Central Catalan is an Eastern Catalan dialect, which can be considered the standard pronunciation of the language. There is no precise linguistic border between one dialect and another because there is nearly always a transition zone of some size between pairs of geographically separated dialects (except for dialects specific to an island). The main difference between the two blocks is their treatment of unstressed vowels, in addition to a few other features:

Western Catalan

* North-Western Catalan (colour: light blue)
o Ribagorçà (from Ribagorça, a region of Catalonia)
o Pallarès (from Pallars)
o Lleidatà (from Lleida province)
* Transitional Valencian or Ebrenc (colour: blue)
o Ampostí (from Amposta)
o Tortosí (from Tortosa)
o Catalan from Matarranya
o Vinarossenc (from Vinaròs)
o Valencian from Maestrat (a region of Valencia)
* Valencian (colour: dark blue)
o Castellonenc (from region of Plana)
o Apitxat, or Central Valencian
o Southern Valencian
o Alacantí (from the Alicante's metropolitan area and most of Vinalopó valley)
o Majorcan from Tàrbena and la Vall de Gallinera Valencian municipalities


Eastern Catalan

* Northern Catalan, or rossellonès (from Roussillon)
* Central Catalan
o Salat (from Costa Brava)
o Barceloní (from Barcelona)
o Tarragoní (from Tarragona)
o Xipella
* Balearic
o Mallorquí (from Majorca, Mallorca in Catalan)
o Menorquí (from Minorca, Menorca in Catalan)
o Eivissenc (from Ibiza, Eivissa in Catalan)
* Alguerese (from the Italian city of Alghero)

Standards of Catalan language

There are two main standards for Catalan language, one regulated by Institut d'Estudis Catalans, general standard, with Pompeu Fabra's orthography as axis keeping features from Central Catalan, and other regulated by Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua, restricted scale standard, focused on Valencian standardization on the basis of Normes de Castelló, that is, Pompeu Fabra's orthography but more adapted to Western Catalan pronunciation and features of Valencian dialects. IEC's Standard, apart from the basis of Central Catalan features, takes also other dialects features considering as standard. Despite this, the most notable difference between both standards is some tonical "e" accentuation, for instance: francès or anglès (IEC) - francés (French) or anglés(English) (AVL), cafè (IEC) - café (AVL) (coffee), conèixer (IEC) - conéixer (to know), comprèn (IEC) - comprén (AVL) (he understands). This is because of the different pronunciation of some tonical "e", specially tonical E- (long "e") and I( (breves "i") from Latin, in both Catalan blocks ([?] in Eastern Catalan and [e] in Western Catalan). Despite this, AVL's standard keeps grave accent "è", without pronouncing this "e" [?], in some words like: què (what), València, èter (ether), sèsam (sesame), sèrie (series) i època (age). There are also some other divergences like the tl use by AVL in some words instead of tll like in ametla/ametlla (almond), espatla/espatlla (back) or butla/butlla (bull), the use of elided demonstratives (este this, eixe that (near)) in the same level as reinforced ones (aquest, aqueix) or the use of lots of 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 singular person in indicative present (-ar verbs): "jo compre" (I buy) instead of "jo compro". In Balearic Islands, IEC's standard is used but adapted into Balearic dialect by University of the Balearic Islands's philological section, Govern de les Illes Balears's consultative organ. In this way, for instance, IEC says it is correct writing "cantam" as much as "cantem" (we sing) and University says that priority form in Balearic Islands must be "cantam" in all fields. Another feature of Balearic standard is the non-ending in 1st singular person in indicative present: "jo cant" (I sing), "jo tem" (I fear), jo "dorm" (I sleep). In L'Alguer, IEC has adapted his standard into Alguerese dialect. In this standard one can find, among all features: the lo article instead of el, special possessive pronouns and determinants la mia (my), lo sou/la sua (his/her), lo tou/la tua (your), and so on, the use of -v- at imperfect tense in all conjugations: cantava, creixiva, llegiva; the use of lots of archaic words, usual words in Alguerese: manco instead of menys (less), calqui u instead of algú (someone), qual/quala instead of quin/quina (which), and so on; and the adaptation of weak pronouns.

In fieri.



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