Catalan (Català) is a Western Romance language spoken in eastern and north-eastern Spain, chiefly in Catalonia, Valencia, the Balearic Isles, Aragon autonomous communities and in some municipalities of Murcia. It is also spoken outside of Spain in the Roussillon region of France, in the northwest Sardinian city of Alghero (l'Alguer), in the small state of Andorra and among the emigrants in the USA.
Catalan is spoken by about 9.5 million people and it is the official language of Andorra and an official language, along with Spanish, in Catalonia (Catalunya), Valencia (Comunitat Valenciana) and the Balearic Islands (Illes Balears).
There are two main dialect groups in modern Catalan: Occidental (which is subdivided into North-West Catalan and Valencian) and Oriental (which is subdivided into Central dialect, Balearic, Roussillonnais and Alguerese). Each of these dialects, except for Alguerese, is in turn divided into subdialects, of which up to eighteen have been identified. These various dialects differ only in minor respects (details of pronunciation, vocabulary, and verb conjugation) which makes them easily mutually intelligible.
Catalan is a language that developed independently out of the vulgar Latin spoken by the Romans who colonised the Tarragona area and it evolved into a distinct language during the 10th and 11th centuries. Under the influence of the Moorish speech, the Latin s was often palatalized and written x. Another special feature of Catalan is that, in contrast with other Romance languages, Catalan has many monosyllabic words.
The ISO language code for Catalan is CAT.
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