Catalan, a European language
Origin, territory and population
The Catalan language, one of the Romance languages, was formed between the VIII and
X centuries in the territories of the Carolingian Empire which made up the counties of the
Marca Hispànica. During the XII and XIII centuries it spread southwards and westwards
with the territorial conquests of the Catalan-Aragonese crown; the language frontier was
finally established at the end of the reign of James I.
The linguistic domain of the Catalan language covers an area of 68,000 km2 and has
11,380,000 inhabitants. Nowadays, it is divided into seven territories distributed in four
states: Andorra; L'Alguer (Italy); Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, the Community of
Valencia and Franja de Ponent (Spain); and Northern Catalonia (France).
The knowledge of Catalan
The knowledge of Catalan varies from place to place, due to the diversity of historical and
political realities. From the latest data on the degree of lnguistic knowledge, it can be
deduced that the number of persons capable of speaking Catalan is around 7,300,000
whle there are 9,800,000 who can understand it.
Catalan, a unique case in Europe
Although Catalan has certain characteristics belonging to minority languages, it differs
from them for several reasons which place it among the European languages with a
medium-sized population. It is a unique case:
- Due to its legal status. It is the official language in Andorra and, jointly with Spanish, in
three Spanish autonomic communities.
- Due to its demography. It is the seventh language in the European Union. The number
of people speaking it is higher than those who speak Finnish or Danish, and is
comparable to those who speak Swedish, Greek or Portuguese in Europe.
- Due to its socio-linguistic situacion. It has never actually been lost as a language and is
passed down from generation to generation in a normal way.
- Due to its linguistic range. It is a fully codified, regulated and standardised language
with a total academic consensus. Its linguistic r