Spoken by: 9.1 million
Spoken in: In Spain:

the Balearic Islands, Catalonia, Valencia, Aragon (in La Franja), Murcia (in Carxe).
In France: Pyrénées-Orientales (Catalunya Nord/le Pays Catalan). In Italy (Sardinia): The city of Alghero.

In Andorra.
Language family: Romance

Catalan (/ˈkætəlæn, -ən, ˌkætəˈlæn/; autonym: català) is a Western Romance language derived from Vulgar Latin and named after the medieval Principality of Catalonia, in northeastern modern Spain. It is the only official language of Andorra, and a co-official language of the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencia (where the language is known as Valencian). It also has semi-official status in the Italian commune of Alghero. It is also spoken in the eastern strip of Aragon, in some villages of Region of Murcia called Carche and in the Pyrénées-Orientales department of France. These territories are often called Països Catalans or "Catalan Countries".

Catalan evolved from Vulgar Latin in the Middle Ages around the eastern Pyrenees. 19th-century Spain saw a Catalan literary revival, culminating in the early 1900s.

Phonology Edit

Catalan has five orthographic vowels: a, e, i, o, u. These correspond to seven vowel phonemes: /a, e, ɛ, i, o, ɔ, u/ and eight allophones: [a, e, ɛ, i, o, ɔ, u, ə].

a is pronounced [a] in stressed syllables, [ə] in unstressed syllables.

e is pronounced [e] or [ɛ] in stressed syllables. When the e is unaccented, there is no rule for telling which one it is, but é is always [e] and è is always [ɛ]. In unstressed syllables, it is pronounced [ə].

i is always pronounced [i].

o is pronounced [o] or [ɔ] is stressed syllables. When the o is unaccented, there is no rule for telling which one it is, but ó is always [o] and ò is always [ɔ]. In unstressed syllables, it is pronounced [u].

u is always pronounced [u].

Grammar Edit

Orthography Edit

Catalan uses the Roman alphabet: a (à), b, c, ç, d, e (è, é), f, g, h, i (í), j, k, l, m, n, o (ò, ó), p, q, r, s, t, u (ú), v, w, x, y, z

In addition, the following digraphs are used:

ll: a voiced palatal lateral in most dialects

l·l: /l:/, although many pronounce simply /l/

rr: /r/ (the sound that occurs when rolling your tongue)

ss: always /s/, never /z/

ny: like Spanish ñ, or in English "canyon"

tx: like 'ch' in Spanish

ix: like 'sh' in English

ig: like 'ch' in English

qu: before e, i it's /k/, elsewhere it's /kw/

gu: before e, i pronounced /g/, elsewhere /gw/

In most dialects, 'b' and 'v' have merged to /b/.

'c' is pronounced /s/ before 'e' and 'i', /k/ elsewhere.

'g' is pronounced like in English "triage" before 'e' and 'i', /g/ elsewhere.

'h' is not pronounced in native words.

'j' is pronounced like the 'g' in English "triage".

's' is voiced to /z/ between vowels.

Common difficulties Edit

Like other Romance languages, Catalan makes active use of the subjunctive mood.

There are two verbs for 'to be': 'ser' and 'estar' (although they are not necessarily used in the same way as Spanish 'ser' and 'estar).

Most of the grammar will be familiar for those who speak Spanish, but there is a notable exception: the weak pronouns 'en', 'hi' and 'ho'.

Basic Phrases Edit


Good morning--Bon dia

Good afternoon--Bona tarda

Good evening--Bona vespre

Good night--Bona nit


Thank you--Gràcies/Merci

You're welcome--De res

What's you're name?--Com et dius?

Pleased to meet you--Encantat/Encantada


Complete Catalan with Two Audio CDs: A Teach Yourself Guide (English based) - available from Amazon and other retailers

Assimil El catalán sin esfuerzo (Spanish based) - available from Amazon and other retailers

Digui, digui (Catalan based) - television show as listed on (Official Course, Multi-Language based)