First, the Catalan language takes its name from the current Spanish region bordering France.

Second, it is a Romance language and about 10 million people speak it. We find it in the North East part of Spain (Catalonia and around Valencia), and in the Balearic Islands. But not only as Andorra also uses it as its official language since 1993. Also, people speak it, to a very limited extent, in the French Pyrenees Orientales and Sardinia in Italy.

Finally, due to the fact that Catalonia was French for centuries, some of Catalan is close to French. But now, Catalan itself contains some dialects.


First, Catalan has its roots in Vulgar Latin, brought in the 2nd century BC by Roman settlers in North East Spain. If it is part of the Occitano Romance branch of the Indo European group, it shares some traits with Ibero Romance dialects. Also, some of its lexicon is close to the Gallo Romance group. Of course, it is very close to Occitan. As everywhere in the Roman Empire, people spoke Latin. But variants appeared and became more obvious over time. Thus, Catalan appeared very early in the Gallo Romanic group.

Then, we have to wait until the 12th century to discover the literary Catalan. Also, the language of the troubadours had a profound influence on it. And this, until the 14th century. The latter is quite close to Provençal and Limousin, two local dialects in France.

In the 13th century, Catalan replaced Arabic as the official language thanks to James I the Conqueror. Indeed, Arabic was dominant following their conquests. Catalan also corresponded to Occitan. Then came Ramon Llull who wrote The Book of the Kind and the Three Wise Men. Linguists consider the latter to be the cradle of Catalan as a recognised idiom and a separate language from Occitan.

From the 15th century onwards, Catalan received a strong Iberian Romanic influence. This, due to the union of the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon.

However, under command of the great Sun king Louis XIV, the edict of 2 April 1700 then prohibites it. This lasted for a while, as it did not appear again before the 19th century. There, many authors published many works in Catalan. Not only in poetry, but also in theatre and novels.

What a comeback!

With no doubt, the 20th century in the one where Catalan may now really exist and for long.

Firstly, in 1912, Pompeu Sabra published his grammar which unified Catalan orthography. Then, following the birth of the Second Spanish Republic, education decreed Catalan Spanish bilingualism in Catalonia. A few years later, the Council of the New Unified School generalised its teaching during the Social Revolution. However, the arrival of dictator Franco led Catalan to a sudden brutal halt. This did not last long and Catalan regained its status as a co official language when Catalonia became autonomous in the late 1970s. New major event: Òscar Ribas Reig gave the first speech in Catalan at the UN in 1993. Finally, on the eve of the new millennium, the EU allowed the use of Catalan in its institutions.

Elite Translation James I the Conqueror, spread of catalan, Old catalan and Edit of 2 April 1700

Words order

One of the great features of Catalan is its high freedom of syntactic order. It also easily reverses the subject. Moreover, the use of the preposition before personal complements is not normative but present locally and in old documents.


Catalan uses the Latin script, enriched with digrams, accents and letters. Also, there are many diphthongs, represented by pairs of vowels.


Most of the time, we place the adjective after the noun. But we can also place it in front with a stylistic value.


Every word contains a tonic vowel. A syllable that contains a graphically stressed vowel is tonic. If the word does not contain a graphic accent, the tonic syllable is the one which have the last vowel in the case of words ending in a consonant. Except for "s" or if the syllable contains the penultimate vowel in other cases.


Finally, one of the main criteria of modern Catalan spelling is to respect the etymology. But only if it is in accordance with the way how we pronounce words. This explains the double spelling 'g/j' for the sound [ʒ], followed by an 'e'. As well as to maintain the consonantal groups mpt and mpc: redemptor, redempció. Or the difference between 'q' and 'c' for the sound [k]: quatre, evacuar. And the '-d' of àcid, òxid, solitud. Or the '-g' of pròleg, antropòfag and the '-b' of corb ('curve', 'raven'), etc.

Elite Translation Article Learn about the Catalan language Catalan Alphabet landscape and Sagrada Famillia