(The "Senyera" or Catalan Flag)
a Romance language with as distinctive a character as that of Castilian,
Portuguese, French or Italian.
of the Language
languages are a group of closely related vernaculars descended from Latin,
a member of the Indo-European Group of Languages.
Rome, the spoken language of the lower classes underwent modifications
in pronunciation and grammar that ultimately were to differentiate it
from the written language and the language of the privileged. This people's
Latin, or Vulgar Latin, was carried to the far-flung provinces
by soldiers, merchants, and colonists.
In the provinces,
Vulgar Latin underwent further changes through the influence of the subjugated
peoples, who brought to it their own speech habits and pronunciation
influenced by their own indigenous languages.
collapse of the Roman Empire, insularity affected the various regions
and the emerging Romance languages in turn began to break up among themselves.
In one of these
regions - South East France and the Mediterranean Coast of the Iberian
Peninsula - this vernacular language developed into Catalan. The history
of the language's later development is intricately linked to the history
of Catalonia itself.
(A Million Catalans demanding Autonomy)
History of Catalonia
We can begin
to talk about a recognizably Catalan nation in the early middle ages
when the Dukes of Barcelona grew to power and prestige. In 1137, on the
marriage of Count Ramon Berenguer
IV to the heir to Aragon,
the Kingdom of Catalonia-Aragon was established. In the 14th Century
this dynasty came to an end and the country has been in an almost constant
battle to preserve its personal identity and the independence of its
institutions ever since.
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spoken in the provinces of Girona, Lleida, Barcelona, Tarragona, Castellón,
Valencia, Alicante, and the Balearic Islands and it is the official language
of Andorra. It is also spoken in France, in nearly the whole of the Pyrénées-Orientales
and in the town of L'Alguer in Sardinia. It is a language spoken
by more than 6,000,000 people.
(Catalan Speaking Areas)
prose works were produced in Catalan before the end of the 13th century.
A notable exception being the chivalric novel Tirant lo Blanc, a
humorous, ironic, yet compassionate account of the adventures of an imaginary
knight, with vivid descriptions of life at the time.
The 15th century
was the Golden Age of Catalan poetry. During this period the literary
language lost its indebtedness to Provençal and purely Catalan
forms became dominant. The greatest among the poets of this period was
Ausías March, a Valencian. Subsequently, Catalan poetry went into
a decline after the loss of independence of Aragon to Castile and the
triumphant rise and spread of Castilian.
produced very little notable literature until the 19th Century renaissance.
When writers such as Buenaventura Carlos Ariba, Mosén Jacinto
Verdaguer and Ángel Guimerá, (poet and dramatist), appeared
on the scene.
Catalan writers of the 20th century are the novelists Narcís Oller,
Joaquim Ruyra, Mercè Rodereda and Prudenci Bertrana and the poets
Salvador Espriu, Josep Plà and Joan Maragall. Under the regime
(1939-75) of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, all traces of Catalan
autonomy were temporarily abolished; and the ues of the language was
severely restricted. However, the Catalan language has since revived.
writers of note include the poet Miquel Martí i Pol, the short
story writer Pere Calders and the novelists Montserrat Roig, Terenci
Moix, Jordi Sierra i Fabra and Quim Monzó.
Among the characteristics
of Catalan are the following: A number of perfect participles are formed
from the perfect stem instead of from the infinitive stem; in the Valencian
and Balearic dialects, the pronunciation of b and v has not merged; the
voiced sound of intervocalic s has persisted; in unaccented final vowels,
a is retained and other vowels are dropped; the Latin au is changed to
o as in Castilian; final dentals are vocalized, which is held to be the
essential characteristic of classic Catalan; noun declensions are totally
absent; and the original pronunciation of the Latin u is retained in
cases in which French and Provençal use ü.
Similarities and differences
among the Romance languages and their relation to Latin may be seen in
the following sentences, which mean "The poet loves the girl":
Poeta puellam amat
French - Le poete aime
la jeune fille
Il poeta ama la ragazza
Portuguese - O poeta
ama a menina
Spanish - El poeta ama
a la muchacha
Catlan - El poeta
estima a la noia
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