Catalan (/ˈkætəlæn, -ən, ˌkætəˈlæn/; autonym: català; Eastern Catalan: [kətəˈla]), is a Western Romance language derived from Vulgar Latin. It is the only official language of Andorra, and a co-official language of three autonomous communities in eastern Spain: Catalonia, Valencian Country and the Balearic Islands. It also has semi-official status in the Italian comune of Alghero. It is also spoken in the Pyrénées-Orientales department of France and in two further areas in eastern Spain: the eastern strip of Aragon and Carche in the Region of Murcia. It also had fairly big impact on Sardinian, which has over 2 thousand Catalan loan-words still being used today. The Catalan-speaking territories are often called the Països Catalans or "Catalan Countries", although Catalonia is also used by some to refer to the whole linguistic area.
In Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and the Valencian Country, it is the youngest people who understand Catalan best and who have the most skill in speaking it. In Catalonia, for example, 80% of the total population speak Catalan, but this figure reaches 90% among young people aged between 15 and 29. Nowadays it is very unusual to meet young people in Catalonia with whom you cannot speak Catalan.
According to the 2018 dossier of "Platform for the Language", there are: around 6 million speakers in Catalonia (80% of the pop.); 2.5 million speakers in Valencia (51% of the pop.); 900k speakers in the Balearic Islands (80,5% of the pop.); 37k in the Eastern Strip of Aragon (80,2% of the pop.); 164k in Northern Catalonia (Pyrénées-Orientales) (35,4% of the pop.); 22k in Alghero (50,5% of the pop.) and 59k in Andorra (78% of the pop.). Equating to a total of 10.049.000 speakers.
The language evolved from Vulgar Latin in the Middle Ages around the eastern Pyrenees. 19th-century Catalonia saw a literary revival, culminating in the early 1900s, known as "La Renaixença" (the reinassance).
- Intercat - a course collection with basic to advance levels.
- Parla.cat - Government-sponsored courses (free, needs registration).
- University of Barcelona conversation guidelines - basic stuff, self-explainatory. Has a dictionary too.
- Catalan dictionary
- Cambridge English-Catalan dictionary
- Verb conjugation: Verbix and Verbs.cat
- Forvo - this is for pronunciation. Very helpful. Seems centered around Eastern Catalan.
Books and .PDF files
- Alan Yates' Teach Yourself.
- Entonació dels dialectes catalans - Accent resources, very interesting. Monolingual (catalan).
- Catalunya Ràdio
- Catalunya Informació
- RAC1 87.7 FM
- Ràdio Estel 106.6 FM - Christian music
- Ràdio Arrels (French Catalonia)
- Betevé (Barcelona's TV)
- TV3 A La Carta - here you can watch anything made by TV3, the biggest TV channel in Catalonia.
- Personal recommendation: Merlí (teen drama), Cites (people having dates), Doraemon/Inuyasha/Bobobo/Ramma/One Piece (learning watching Jap cartoons? Yeah, think of any anime you like and you'll find it in Catalan, don't ask). Just search "[title of film/show] + català" and you'll probably find it, works with non-weeaboo stuff too.
- Also, watch Plats Bruts, an early 2000s sitcom about two dudes living in Barcelona.
- There's lots of music in Catalan, so here's a playlist to get right into it.
- Don't be fooled, Barcelona's Catalan is heavily influenced by Spanish, so try to stick to Standard Catalan, or the one you'd learn in an academy. If some Catalans choose to speak in shitty ebonics, it's their fault, don't do as them.
- In many places, you'll have to get used to the dialect and the localisms (as in local vocabulary and second meanings). Don't worry about it, most city folk (Barcelona) won't understand a Balearic peasant. Don't feel bad about it.
- People may use present forms when talking about the future, for instance: Next month I'll get married = "el mes vinent em caso" (present) instead of "el mes vinent em casaré" (future). Similar things happen in other Romance languages.
- There's some shows in Netflix with Catalan dubs and subtitles, but it's not the norm. You can search "catalan" in the browser.
- If neutral vowels are a pain in the ass for you, try Western Catalan dialects. They relly less on them.
- You can go to language exchange groups or join plenty of free cultural activities. Barcelona is on easy mode. Just tell natives to speak to you in Catalan, because many of them will change to Spanish or English when they realise you're a foreigner. They're trying to be nice, but that means you'll never learn. Get out of your comfort zone.
- In general, people will be really happy to see a foreigner learning Catalan. Use this to have longer conversations with natives or getting into group chats.
- In some areas in which Spanish has a bigger presence, you'll probably encounter hardline unionists that will only speak in Spanish or Macaronic English to you, even though they probably know Catalan. Thankfully, these autists are usually cointained in big cities. If you want to learn the language, avoid them.
- Intonation is important, just like in Spanish, Italian and French, in Catalan you can ask questions just by changing how you say things. "Prens cervesa" (you drink beer) can be transformed into "Prens cervesa?" (are you drinking beer?). Also context can be key to better understand sentences.
- In rural areas you'll find less-contaminated Catalan, but it will also be harder to understand. Getting used to it is easy, though.
- Phonetics shouldn't be a problem if you know English. There's some different sounds, though, but nothing hardcore.
- Catalan was successfuly standardised by Pompeu Fabra a hundred years ago. If you're into medieval literature, you shouldn't have any issues finding old texts and books re-edited in modern Catalan. You can search for the Four Great Chronicles, pretty amazing books written by Catalan kings.
- Enjoy yourself, you're learning a cool language full of free culture and interesting activities.
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