The Catalan language is a Western Romance tongue. For years some philologists held that it was merely a dialectal offshoot of Provençal and that during the Middle Ages it had raised itself for a time to the dignity of a literary language. Subsequent research led other scholars to claim the complete independence of Catalan as a language. Ranged sometimes in the group of Hispanic languages, Catalan has a character as distinctive as that of Castilian (Spanish), Portuguese, and Galician.
Among the characteristics of Catalan are the following: A number of
perfect participles are formed from the perfect stem instead of from the
infinitive stem; the pronunciation of b and v
has not merged, they remain as they were in Latin;
the voiced sound of intervocalic s has persisted; in unaccented
final vowels, a is retained and other vowels are dropped; the Latin au
is changed to o as in Spanish; final dentals are
vocalized, which is held to be the essential characteristic of classic
Catalan; noun declensions are totally absent; and the original pronunciation
of the Latin u is retained in cases in which French
and Provençal use ü.