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The Catalan Language

(Background music) Hello everyone, welcome to the Langfocus Channel and my name is Paul. Today we’re going to focus on a language called Catalan. Catalan is a member of the Occitano-Romance branch of the Romance language family. It’s mainly spoken in and around Catalonia, an autonomous community in Spain, as well as in another autonomous community, the Balearic Islands, and also in the autonomous community of Valencia. But some people will definitely dispute that. Many members of the Valencian community will insist that they speak a separate language called Valencian. Others, including most linguists, simply consider Valencian to be a collection of Catalan dialects. WARNING. Abandon topic. Abandon topic. The comments section is about to blow. Okay, let’s leave that issue aside for now. But in any case, in all three of those autonomous communities Catalan is co-official with Spanish, except in Valencia, where it’s co-official with Spanish under the name “Valencian”. Oh man, this video just started and I’ve already got a headache Catalan is also spoken in the tiny principality of Andorra, which is located in the Pyrenees Mountains, and is bordered by France to the north and Spain to the south. Catalan is also spoken across the border in France in the northern Catalonia region. Catalan is closely related to Occitan, which is spoken in areas of France adjacent to northern Catalonia. In the past Catalan and Occitan were considered to be dialect groups of the same language But they’re now widely considered to be independent sister languages of the same Occitano-Romance branch. Catalan is also spoken in the town of Alghero in Sardinia, Italy. Catalan is spoken by over 10 million people, some of whom Indisputably speak it as a native language, and some of whom speak another language at home (usually Spanish) but are also fluent in Catalan and speak it at a native level because of their environment. It’s the sixth most spoken Romance language after Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and Romanian. It’s also the most spoken non-state language in Europe, meaning that it’s the most spoken language that’s not an official language at the national level That’s because it’s not official at the national level in Spain, even though millions of people speak it. It’s only official in Andorra. Some people want it to be the official language of a new country called Catalonia that would be separate from Spain. WARNING Tell you what, you can just google it. History. Like all Romance languages, Catalan developed from dialects of vulgar latin in areas that had been under the control of the Roman Empire. The earliest form of Occitano-Romance, known as Old Occitan or Old Provençal, had developed by the 8th century, and later some of its varieties began to diverge into Old Catalan between the 10th and 14th centuries. In the 12th century the county of Barcelona, a Catalan county, formed a dynastic union with the Kingdom of Aragon, forming the Crown of Aragon, and other Catalan counties formed the Principality of Catalonia together with Barcelona, bringing them into the crown. The Crown of Aragon expanded under the rule of James the Conqueror who brought Valencia and the Balearic Islands under the Crown’s control and these became Catalan speaking areas. The political capital of the crown of Aragon was the city of Zaragoza in the kingdom of Aragon. But the de facto economic and cultural centers were Barcelona and Valencia, both Catalan-speaking cities. By the 14th and 15th centuries, the Crown of Aragon had greatly expanded to include Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, and Naples and for a brief time Athens and Neopatras in present-day Greece. There was a large Catalan commercial presence throughout the Mediterranean region, and the Catalan language became widespread, at least amongst the commercial class. Catalan was considered one of the great languages of Europe But in 1479 the crown of Aragon formed a union with the Crown of Castile, and Castilian today also known as just Spanish or espanol began to grow in influence and Catalan began to decline in influence During much of the period from the 16th century to the 20th century, various laws were enacted that limited the use of Catalan in official documents, in publications, in administration and in schools. But since 1975, it has been made co-official in Catalonia, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands, and in Catalonia schools are now required to teach most subjects in Catalan. In Valencia there’s less instruction in Catalan (known officially there as Valencian, by the way), but there are current government efforts to increase it. In the Balearic Islands at least 50% of the students schooling must be conducted in Catalan, though There are also programs that are taught entirely in Catalan. All of the Catalan speaking autonomous areas of Spain are bilingual, with Catalan speakers also being Spanish speakers. So what’s Catalan like? Once you learn one Romance language, you’ve already taken a great step towards understanding the others. If we look at a list of basic greetings in Catalan, there will definitely be some words that speakers of other Romance languages will recognize immediately. Good morning, or good day: Bon dia. That sounds an awful lot like Portuguese “bom dia” and Spanish “buenos dias”. Good afternoon: Bona tarda. Compare that with Portuguese “boa tarde” and Spanish “buenas tardes”. Good evening or good night: Bona nit. Compare that with Portuguese “boa noite”, and Spanish “buenas noches”, and in Italian “good night” would be “buona notte”. To say “bye”, you might say “Adéu”. Compare that to Portuguese “adeus”, Spanish “adiós” and French “adieu”. And if you want to be more formal, you might say “A reveure”. Compare that with French “au revoir”. Now, let’s look at some Catalan sentences and examine some of the language’s basic features, many of which are quite similar to other Romance languages, but with some differences, of course. “El Josep és un bon professor”. This means “Joseph is a good teacher”. “El Josep és un bon professor”. Word-for-word it’s: the-Joseph-is-a-good-teacher. This sentence follows basically the same word order you would find in other Romance languages and in English, with one difference: the definite article “el” before the name Josep. In Catalan a definite article is used before people’s first names, and this is called “the personal article”. We’ll come back to definite articles in a minute. This whole sentence is masculine singular. Like other Romance languages, Catalan nouns, articles, and adjectives are inflected for grammatical gender and number. Let’s look at a similar feminine sentence. “La Isabel és una bona professora”. Isabel is a good teacher. “La Isabel és una bona professora”. Feminine nouns generally end in “a”, and the adjectives that modify them are inflected with the feminine ending “a” as well, while masculine nouns generally end in a consonant or an “o” or “i”. One other thing I want to point out here is that the letter “r” is silent in the final position in Catalan. So this word “professor” ends in a vowel sound. There are basically four definite articles. The singular forms are “el” and “la”, which changed to l’ with an apostrophe if the following word starts with a vowel or an “h”. The plural forms are “els” and “les”. For the personal article, there are the alternate forms “en” and “na”, n’ with an apostrophe before a vowel or an “h”. The indefinite articles are un, una, uns, and unes. The way articles work in Catalan is similar to in other Romance languages, but the forms are different, of course. And there are also some dialectal differences in Catalan articles. Another sentence: “Ella sempre dina molt tard”. This means “She always has lunch very late”. “Ella sempre dina molt tard”. Word-for-word it’s: she-always-has lunch-very-late. One thing I’d like to point out right off the bat is this phrase “molt tard”. In Spanish it would be “muy tarde”. In Portuguese it would be “muito tarde”. In Italian it would be “molto tardi” – quite similar to the Catalan phrase. But in the other languages words tend to end in vowels, especially in Italian. Words end in consonants much more often in Catalan. But also pay attention to the consonants at the end of these words. Here we see the simplification of final consonant clusters. “T” is often not pronounced after another consonant at the end of a word, especially in the combinations of LT, RT, NT, and ST. Sometimes it may be pronounced slightly, or articulated but not released. And in final position, the letter “d” is pronounced as /t/. But similar to “t”, it’s often silent or unreleased after another consonant. Simplification of final consonant clusters is a prominent feature of Catalan But it does not always happen and it varies depending on the dialect. The speaker in the samples speaks a central Catalan dialect. Here, we have a personal pronoun as the subject of the sentence. This is actually not necessary. Catalan is a pro dropped language, meaning that the subject pronoun can be dropped because person and number are clear from the verb conjugation. Like other Romance languages, Catalan has two types of personal pronouns: strong pronouns, which are used as subject pronouns and after prepositions, the only difference being in the first person singular; and there are weak pronouns, which are clinics that are used for the direct or indirect object. Catalan has more weak pronoun forms than other major Romance languages. Just a note about this word “dina”. In this sentence. It’s pronounced as /ðina/ because in Catalan “d” is pronounced as the soft /ð/ sound between vowels. Even though the “d” is in the initial position here, it is affected by the vowel at the end of the previous word. “Dina” is a regular verb meaning “to have lunch”, and here it’s conjugated in the third-person singular for the present tense. Catalan has three categories of regular verbs, which are characterized by different endings. Verbs ending in “ar”, also known as the first conjugation; verbs ending in “re” or “er”, the second conjugation; and verbs ending in IR, the third conjugation. Verbs in each category have the same or similar conjugations. Another sentence: “M’ha donat els diners aquest matí”. This means “He gave me the money this morning”. “M’ha donat els diners aquest matí.” Word-for-word it’s: to me-has given- the- masculine plural-money-this-morning. The first word m’ is a weak pronoun, which is used for the indirect object here. This form of the pronoun m’ comes before vowels and the letter h, while before consonants it’s “em”, as in E-M. Notice that it comes before the verb. “ha donat” is the perfect form of the verb “donar”. The perfect form includes the auxiliary verb “haver” followed by the past participle. It’s used for events in the recent past, and events within timeframes that are connected to now, like “this month” or “this year”. There are parallel tenses in other Romance languages, and Catalan’s system of verb tenses in general is very similar to other Romance languages. “Donat” is another example of a Catalan word ending in a consonant where it would end with a vowel in other Romance languages. In Italian, this would be “donato” and in Spanish it would be “donado”. In Romanian, however, it would be “donat”. Next, notice the masculine plural definite article, because the word for money “diners” is plural. The word “aquest” is similar to Italian “questa” or Spanish and Portuguese “esta”, But notice that the “s” and “t” are pronounced differently. The “s” is silent and the “t” is not released. “Matí” is similar to Italian “mattina” or French “matin”. Coming back to the weak pronouns for a minute, what if we want to use a pronoun in place of “els diners”? “M’ho ha donat aquest matí.” The direct object, in this case “ho” meaning “it”, must come after the indirect object (m’). Weak pronouns come after the verb in the case of imperatives, at least positive imperatives, gerunds, and infinitives. So the imperative sentence “give it to me” would be “Dóna-m’ho”. Another sentence: “(Ell) es va graduar fa dos anys.” This means he graduated two years ago. Word-for-word it’s: reflexive pronoun-he graduated-makes-two-years. Remember that the subject pronoun “ell” is probably not necessary. Let’s look at the end of this sentence first. This phrase here “fa dos anys” shows the use of the verb “fer”, meaning “to make”, to tell how much time has passed since an event happened. This is similar to how it would be expressed in Italian: “due anni fa”. “Es va graduar” is a past tense construction called “the periphrastic past” that is unique to Catalan. It consists of an auxilary verb related to, but not identical to, the present tense of the verb “anar” meaning to go, followed by a verb in the infinitive. The periphrastic past is identical in meaning to the simple past, which is now normally limited to literary use. Note that the reflexive pronoun (in a different form) can appear after the verb instead ,if it’s an infinitive or an imperative or gerund. So this could also be “Va graduar-se” and the whole sentence could be “(Ell) va graduar-se fa dos anys.” This verb construction is somewhat surprising to me because it looks quite similar to the periphrastic future using “anar” (to go). ““Va a graduar-se” means “He is going to graduate” with “va” being the third-person singular present tense of “anar”. This periphrastic future form is used less in Catalan than in some other Romance languages probably because it resembles the periphrastic past. So instead the simple future can be used. “Es graduarà”. “He will graduate”. In Catalan you typically form the simple future tense by adding a suffix to the infinitive form. But for some irregular verbs there is a different future stem not the infinitive. In general, the way that Catalan verbs are conjugated is quite similar to other Romance languages except that the exact forms are somewhat different. With Western Romance languages in general, if you speak one or if you’ve studied one, then the other seems somewhat familiar right off the bat. But on the other hand everything seems somewhat different as well. There’s some different vocabulary, different phonology, some different grammatical features, and sometimes things are just expressed differently. Being previously unfamiliar with Catalan for the most part, what strikes me is that I notice features that are similar to Spanish, to French, to Italian, to Portuguese, and to Romanian. But I would never confuse it with one of those languages because it has its own unique elements as well. The question of the day. For speakers of Catalan: What other Romance languages do you find closest to Catalan? Can you communicate with Occitan speakers easily or Italian speakers, etc And for speakers of other Romance languages: How familiar does Catalan seem to you? What differences stand out to you? Special thanks to my friend Pablo who helped with the audio samples for this video. He’s from the Catalonia region of Spain and he’s fluent in Catalan, Spanish, English, Japanese, and I believe some other languages too, and he’s a brilliant guy in general. If you’re studying Spanish or if you want to study Spanish, I recommend you check out his channel “Dreaming Spanish” where you can learn Spanish using his unique approach to language learning. So check it out! Be sure to follow Langfocus on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and once again, thank you to all of my amazing Patreon supporters, especially these ones because they are the best patrons in the world! Thank you for watching and have a nice DAY.

(Let the beat drop!)

100 Replies to “The Catalan Language”

  • Hi everyone! I hope you like the new video! Check out Pablo's channel "Dreaming Spanish", he deserves more subs!

    (He's the guy saying the Catalan sentences in the video).

  • No entiendo por qué da lecciones de historia sobre todo de la lengua una persona que no es ni tiene idea de la verdadera génesis del idioma catalán nivel idioma valenciano ni el idioma mallorquín que nada tiene que ver uno con otro

  • Hey, I'd just like to note that the pronunciation of portuguese in the video sounds kinda weird, more like Italian pronunciation. But good video anyway!!

  • My sister's father-in-law is from Valencia. He says when he moved to the United States he got a job working in an Italian restaurant. He could talk to the Italians and they said look a long lost cousin.

  • Catalan is like a Spanish-sounding version of French. I went to Catalonia last year and it was just incredible. It's a gorgeous place, all the Independence signs and poster around were really cool, and even though I don't speak Catalan, I learnt a few words to get by. It was great fun and sounded so beautiful.

  • Antes de hacer el vídeo infórmate sobre la historia del valenciano. Luego te darás cuenta que él valenciano apareció antes que el catalán. Gracias

  • From a Catalonian, its one of the most beautiful language of the world, its a shame that people always try to put to shame Catalan. Glad to see people of all the world like this language!

  • Hey! I am from Catalonia, and replying to your question, as a catalan speaker I always found french so similar to my language! Greetings!

  • 11:27 That's not the verb to donate, but to give, "donar" in Catalan. In Spanish it'd be "dado" (participe of dar), in Italian I think it'd be "dato" (participe of dare) and in Romanian "dat" (participe of da).

  • I am Catalan but I live in Occitania. Unfortunately, Occitan is dying – in three years, I have never heard it. Only a few old people still say some expressions or speak a bit of "patois", which would be the French word for "dialect". France does not encourage regional languages and so they are disappearing… It is even worse than in Spain.

    Nice video. I would just correct that "donat" is "dado" in Spanish. And the "d" in "donat" (or in any other word, by the way, no matter the position) is never pronounced "th".

    Thanks for sharing

  • I'm from Lombardy (north Italy) and Is speak Lombard like my mother tongue, I can understand all of the question of Catalan, WOW, This is message is only for Lombard or at list the Catalan: Ma piàss propri parlà in lumbaard, se la ghe un quei vun che la vori parlà cunt me in Lumbàrd o anca in catala, ma spiass no😂

  • hello¡ m valencian and i think the valencian people speak the same language like catalans , but there are different dialects , for example , de valencians say : bona vesprada . and the catalans bona tarda

  • Thanks for sharing this post on Catalan. In the early 1990s I worked with a former merchant marine sailor who worked in the Mediterranean for years. He made it known that Catalan was his favorite region, it and its people.

  • Hey! A catalan guy here!
    Really appreciated this video. We're a small territory, not a big language. I find it cool people actually know what catalan is lol
    Great video :b
    Visca Catalunya!

  • Hey, just wanted to say that in the minute 12:11 you say that "M'ha donat els diners aquest matí" would be "M'ho ha donat quest matí" and this is wrong! This would be okay if you were talking about a word that is single (i.e. diner instead of diners). The correct form would actually be "Me'ls ha donat" ('ls is actually els, but we drop the vowel when it goes after a weak pronoun). This is because els diners is plural.

    Very good video anyway!

  • I am from mallorca. Here we speak the dialect mallorquí which can be hard to understand even from people from Catalunya because we speak much faster and we have a very closed accent. And as well many words change @langfocus

  • In the example "M'ha donat els diners aquest matí" Your refer as the spanish form as "Donado", this is wrong, because "donar" in spanish is used for giving in a caritative way, the correct one would be "dado", from the verb "dar", which is used for the regular form of giving something. The rest looks just fine, nice to see Catalan awakens this kind of interest outside our borders!

  • As a romanian speaker |I can understand pretty much of catalan but I also understand spanish and I think catalan is very close to spanish language.

  • Hi! I speak both catalan and spanish and eventhough french pronounciation is hard, it is easy to read. I’m actually learning french and it’s quite easy. Italian and pprtuguese are also pretty easy! Great video

  • hola me gustaría que quitaras la bandera valenciana ya que en valencia se habla valenciano que no es lo mismo que catalán, y lo de que es un dialecto es MENTIRA!! Imformaros y veréis que primero apareció el valenciano antes que el catalán😡

  • Ja em semblava a mi que hi hauríen comentaris escrits al català (i/o valencià), però tampoc m'esperava trobar gent de fora de la regió on es parla, doncs parlant-ho.
    I tampoc sóc un mestre d'aquesta llengua, perdoneu si faig qualsevol errata d'ortografia.

  • Para mí que soy catalán, cuando escucho este mismo y el francés u occitano se me hacen similares y algunas cosas que puedo comprender. Pero con el castellano me pasa que se me hace más fácil entender el italiano… No se si alguno más le pasa jaja.

  • Em sento molt afortunat de poder parlar el català. És un vídeo magnífic. M'ha agradat molt, i voldria també fer suport per aque tothom vegi el documental anomenat 1-O. Visca el català i visca Catalunya lliure!

  • "A reveure" is one of many inventions by Catalan grammatist Pompeu Fabra, who at the beginning of the 20th Century literally made up a lot of words in Catalan in order for it to look more like French and less like Spanish. He created an artificial language to some degree, no wonder that many Valencian, Balearic and eastern Aragonese people don't want to speak that laboratory product.

  • It's true, I'm from Catalonia and we want to separate from Spain, they're so bad people :'(
    Now seriously, Spain is putting in the jail innocent people only for want to be a different country, they everyday kick me in the hight school to be an "independentist" 😭
    We need some help please, Spain isn' t an democratic contry, they put mi father to jail to paint catalonian bands 😭

  • Hii I’m a Catalan girl and I’m happy that catalan language is recognized in your countries 🙌🏻❤️❤️

  • WHY! Why Valencian being called as Catalan? we don't speak Catalan , it's not same pronounce, not the same words, not practically anything! I speak Valencian, the dialect, and when I go to Catalonia I speak Catalan which is completely different. I speak both and respect both but I can't say they are the same language…

  • Congratulations, you made a great video and a great research!

    12:01 I'm sorry but I have to correct this. It is not "M'ho ha donat aquest matí" but "Me'ls ha donat aquest matí" also in 12:20 is not "Dóna-m'ho" but "Dóna-me'ls"

    By the way, weak pronouns are the trickiest part in Catalan, even natives speakers get bonkers when study them.
    Salut i força al canut.

  • In my opinion you should have mentioned the weak adverbial pronouns "en" and "hi", as I find them to be really complex and one of Catalan's most interesting features. Nonetheless, it was a great video!

  • I missed a weak pronoun (9:34) "en, n', 'n, -ne" and "hi" 3sing undeterminated systems (like locations, uncountable substantives, etc) and it is also used as auxiliar for some verbs like "anar" or "tornar" (these pronouns are also very common in french: same forms for "en"; "y" for the "hi" pronoun) : anar-hi, me'n torno,…
    I hope I helped

  • So interesting! Just a thing I found (I'm a native catalan guy). In the minute 11:32, you talk about "donat" and you put the example in spanish "donado". In this case is incorrect, the word in spanish will be "dado". "Donado" means "to donate", in catalan, donat means "give".
    Pretty good!!!

  • As a native Romanian speaker and fluent in all Romance languages including Catalan I can say the grammar is similar to Spanish and French (certain things only to French), some vocabulary to all surrounding Latin languages (caixa, peixe – PT, llavors – FR+IT, dona – IT) and surprisingly a lot of words are common to Romanian – foc, joc, serios, curios, bou, ou, nou, adaptat, ocupat, tot. In general participio pasado is formed the same way, with a final t.

  • Sóc catalana, d’una ciutat de Barcelona, i m’ha encantat el vídeo! Hi ha alguns errors de pronunciació quan dius algunes paraules en català, però, com ara “dinar”, que es pronuncia amb “na” com a síl·laba tònica (en comptes de “di”, com ho pronuncies tu) i sense pronunciar la “r” (això últim ho has fet bé), però moltes gràcies per l’explicació. Una anàlisi precisa del vocabulari i la sintaxi catalans. Bona feina! ☺️

    Per cert, a part de ser parlant nadiua de català, també sóc traductora i lingüista,
    així que puc dir que és una anàlisi força precisa. A més a més, a l’escola (i això inclou la primària, la secundària, i el batxillerat) tenim una assignatura anomenada “Llegua i literatura catalanes” en què solem estudiar i aprendre justament el que explicaves al llarg del vídeo 😊👌🏻.

    If you, comment-section-readers, want to read what I said but translated into English, read my answer to this comment 🙂

  • We speakers of Romance languages are more easily able to communicate through writing. To me, spoken Catalan is so difficult to understand as Spanish (i'm a native portuguese speaker).

  • According to some scholars, the regional name "Catalonia" is derived from "Goth Alania" because in late Roman times the region was occupied by Goths and Alans (Alani). Similarly, the Alano dogs are said to be descended from dogs brought to the region by the Alans, and according to scholar Bernard S. Bachrach, to this very day the town of Alano bears the image of two Alano dogs in its coat of arms. This raises the question of whether there are any vestiges of the language of the Alans still existing in Catalan. Similarly I wonder if there are any vestiges of the language of the Goths still existing in the Catalan language.

    The Goths were a Germanic people, and the Alans were an Iranian people. In late Roman times some of the Alans allied themselves with some of the Goths and formed a powerful kingdom in Spain. Another group of Alans joined with the Vandals, and settled briefly in Spain before they were expelled and moved to North Africa, setting up their capital in the much older city of Carthage.

  • Valenciano and catalan are not the same lenguages. Catalanish people want to end with the existence of valencian lenguage but we valencian people won't allow it. By the way, in valenciano is not "Bona tarda" it's "Bona vesprada" and the same with a lot of words, and the way we pronunce is totally different.

  • lol en un lado dicen que catalan viene del valenciano
    y en este video dicen que viene del occitan
    cual es la verdadera verdad?

  • Portuguese is my mother language. I find Catalan an intriguing and interesting language.
    Just returned from vacationing on the island of Menorca; 11 days were not enough. I was in paradise.
    I've been watching MERLI, on Netflix, and I'm in love with the language.

  • I speak Catalan but I’m not a native speaker (I learned it). I can understand Occitan very well in written form but not spoken. I can perfectly understand Aranes and of course Valencian. I can also understand a lot of Italian (without learning it) both spoken and written. I am native slavic speaker.

    Records a tots els Catalans aqui, m’agraden molt Català i cultura catalana! ❤️

  • Nice video! I'm from Valencian Community and i'm castilian speaker but i also understand valencian perfectly. We teach Valencian from an early age.

  • The only valencians who insist that their tongue isn't a dialect of Catalan are castrated blaverist spaincucks with Stockholm Syndrome.

  • Catalan here. Regarding your question, I understand Spanish but since I am bilingual it doesn't count. I live half an hour away from France, so I can say that I understand North-Catalan people without a problem (they have a thick accent). When it comes to occitan, while I can easily understand Aranès occitan, that doesn't happen with Gascon occitan. I can read French, Italian, and Portuguese, getting most of what it's written. When it comes to Romanian and the language we call "retrorromànic", I could get a few words but that would be it. When hearing someone speak Italian, French or Portuguese I understand most of what they say too, and I think that's because when words and structures are not similar to Catalan, they are close to Spanish, so I can break it down. I hope this answers helps you a wee bit.

  • 😡 Valencian existed before Catalan, it cannot be a dialect that comes from Catalan when it existed before … they are different languages, such as Russian and Ukrainian, similar, but not the same.

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