Native speakers: 4.1 million; Total number of speakers: More than 10 million. Catalan is a Western Romance language derived from Vulgar Latin and named after the medieval Principality of Catalonia, in northeastern modern Spain. It is the only official language of Andorra, and a co-official language of the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencia. By the 9th century, Catalan had evolved from Vulgar Latin on both sides of the eastern end of the Pyrenees, as well as the territories of the Roman province of Hispania Tarraconensis to the south. From the 8th century and onwards the Catalan extended their territory southwards and westwards at the expense of the Muslims, bringing their language with them. This process was given definitive impetus with the separation of the County of Barcelona from the Carolingian Empire in the year 988.
In the 11th century, documents written in Macaronic Latin begins to show Catalan elements, with texts written almost completely in Romance, that appeared by 1080. The old Catalan language shared many features with Gallo-Romance, diverging from Old Occitan between the 11th and 14th centuries.
During the 11th and 12th centuries the Catalan rulers expanded up to north of the Ebro river, and in the 13th century they conquered the Land of Valencia and the Balearic Islands. The city of Alghero in Sardinia was repopulated with Catalan speakers in the 14th century. The language also reached Murcia, which became Spanish-speaking in the 15th century.
In the Low Middle Ages, Catalan went through a golden age, reaching a peak of maturity and cultural richness. Examples include the work of Majorcan polymath Ramon Llull (1232–1315), the Four Great Chronicles (13th–14th centuries), and the Valencian school of poetry culminating in Ausiàs March (1397–1459). By the 15th century, the city of Valencia had become the sociocultural center of the Crown of Aragon, and Catalan was present all over the Mediterranean world. During this period, the Royal Chancery propagated a highly standardized language. Catalan was widely used as an official language in Sicily until the 15th century, and in Sardinia until the 17th. During this period, the language was what Costa Carreras terms "one of the 'great languages' of medieval Europe".
Martorell's outstanding novel of Chivalry Tirant lo Blanc (a book from year 1490) shows a transition from Medieval to Renaissance values, something that can also be seen in Metge's work.
The first book produced with movable type in the Iberian Peninsula and was printed in Catalan.
The Catalan Language Learning Pack.
Download from the Catalan Language Learning Pack collection of datafiles, and take a look at the updated index directory list.