Catalan language
Gerona, CataloniaThe language was born in early Middle Ages in Catalonia, a region in northeastern Spain. Catalan is spoken, in Spain, in the provinces of Gerona, Lérida, Barcelona, Tarragona, Castellón, Valencia, Alicante, and the Balearic Islands; in France, in nearly the whole of the Pyrénées-Orientales; in Andorra where it is one of the official languages; and in parts of Cuba and Argentina.

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.

Catalan Links