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Catalan (català)

Catalan is a Romance language spoken by about 9.5 million people. It is the official language of Andorra and an official language, along with Spanish, in Catalonia (Catalunya), Valencia (Comunitat Valenciana) and the Balearic Islands (Illes Balears). It is also spoken in parts of Aragon and Murcia, Pyrénées-Orientales in southern France, and in the Sardinian city of Alghero (l'Alguer)

The language of Valencia is known as Valencian, which some belief is a separate language, however most linguists view it as a variety of Catalan. The Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua (AVL) consider Catalan and Valencian to be two names for the same language.

Catalan at a glance

  • Native name: català [kətəˈɫa/kataˈɫa]
  • Linguistic affliation: Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Western, Gallo-Romance, Occitano-Romance
  • Number of speakers: c. 9.5 million
  • Spoken in: Andorra, southern France, north east Spain, the Balearic Islands, Alghero in Sardinia, Italy
  • First written: 11th century
  • Writing system: Latin script
  • Status: official language in Andorra and in Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands in Spain. Recognised minotiry language in Pyrénées-Orientales in France, in Aragon in Spanish, and in Alghero in Sardinia in Italy.

Catalan appeared as a distinct language during the 10th and 11th centuries. During the 12th century, Catalan began to appear in writing in scientific, philosophical, financial, religious, legal, literary and historical documents. At that time, Latin and Provençal were the preferred languages for literary and philosophical texts.

After the War of the Spanish Succession (1705-1715), Philip V abolished all the government institutions then existing in Catalonia and implemented Spanish laws. Catalan went through various periods of prohibition and repression.

In the 19th century, a period of economic, cultural and national recovery began, known as the Renaixença (Renaissance). Catalan was reborn as the language of literary culture through the Jocs Florals (Floral Games - a poetry contest) and through distinguished figures such as Jacint Verdaguer, Narcís Oller and Àngel Guimerà.

The Renaixença raised awareness of the lack of unity in the use of the language (there was no model for a common written language) and of the need to draw up rules on spelling. The founding of the Institut d'Estudis Catalans (Institute of Catalan Studies) in 1907 led to the language being codified through the publication of Normes ortogràfiques (Spelling Rules) in 1913, the Diccionari ortogràfic (Spelling Dictionary) in 1917, and the Gramàtica catalana (Catalan Grammar) by Pompeu Fabra in 1918.

During the first 30 years of the 20th century, Catalonia went through a period of political fervour, culminating in the recovery of a degree of political power in the Generalitat (the Government of Catalonia) during the 1930s. During the Second Republic (1931-1939), Catalan was restored to its official language status, which it had lost in the 18th century. However, this promising future was checked by the Civil War and its consequences. The use of Catalan in public was forbidden and the language retreated into the home.

Ever since the restoration of democratic institutions, there has been a process to re-establish the use of Catalan. It is now a co-official language, along with Spanish, in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, and is widely used an everyday language throughout Catalonia, Valencia, Andorrra and the Balearic Islands. Catalan is used as a medium of instruction in many schools, it is also used extensively in the media and in government.

Catalan alphabet

A a B b C c Ç ç D d E e F f G g H h
a be ce ce
de e efa ge hac
I i J j K k L l M m N n O o P p Q q
i jota ke ela ema ena o pe cu
R r S s T t U u V v W w X x Y y Z z
erre esse te u ve
i grega zeta

Catalan pronunciation

Catalan pronunciation


Some information provided by Michael Peter Füstumum and based on

Sample text

Tots els éssers humans neixen lliures i iguals en dignitat i en drets. Són dotats de raó i de consciència, i han de comportar-se fraternalment els uns amb els altres.

A recording of this text by Sergi Giménez Palomo from Barcelona

A recording of this text by Margarita Gracia Sanz from Valencia


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Information about Catalan | Phrases | Numbers | Kinship terms | Tower of Babel | Catalan learning materials

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Information about Catalanà

Information about Balearic varieties of Catalan

Online Catalan courses

Learn Catalan with Glossika Mass Sentences

Catalan phrases

GRup Enciclopèdia Catalana

Online Catalan dictionaries

Online Catalan translators

Online radio in Catalan

Online Catalan news

El diari electrònic de referència en català

La literatura catalana a internet

Institut d'Estudis Catalans (Catalan Studies Institute)

Institut Ramon Llull (the official institution representing Catalan culture and language abroad):

Softcatalà - software in Catalan

L'Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua (Valencian Language Academy)

Romance languages

Aragonese, Aranese, Aromanian, Asturian, Catalan, Corsican, Extremaduran, Franco-Provençal, French, Friulian, Galician, Gallo, Genoese, Guernésiais, Italian, Jèrriais, Ladino, Ladin, Latin, Lombard, Megleno-Romanian, Mirandese, Moldovan, Occitan, Piedmontese, Portuguese, Romanian, Romansh, Sardinian, Sicilian, Spanish, Venetian, Walloon

Other languages written with the Latin alphabet