Catalan from Spanish
Hello everyone! I study Spanish on Duolingo. I have finished the tree and I'm close to fluent. Recently, I noticed that there is a course called "Catalan" available to Spanish speakers, but not to English speakers (English is my native language). I decided to give it a try. I guess Duo only has the course for Spanish speakers b/c it's really similar to Spanish. It's probably not available for English speakers b/c I don't think there are too many people who speak English and Catalan. So what do you think about learning a new language from a language that you've studied a lot? I know right now it's a little weird getting used to typing in the translations in Spanish, and not English. So far, I really like having the whole webpage be in Spanish, though; it's really good Immersion. Is anyone familiar with Catalan? Is it fun, easy, and/or useful? I know it's a romance language that's quite similar to Spanish. If I hadn't gone to the "Yo hablo Espanol" tab on the "Add a new course" page (I did it just out of curiosity to see what other people from around the world can learn - English turns out to be the most common!), I would never have found out about the language Catalan! Thanks for responding, have a nice day, and good luck with your studies!
Well, Catalan is a language spoken in Andorra, Catalunya (Barcelona is here), Valencian Country and Balear Islands. The last three are the called "Països Catalans" (Catalan Countries), which are regions situated in the spanish territory, so their official language is, along with Catalan, Spanish. During the Spanish Nationalist period, Catalan people were forced to change their language from Catalan to Spanish.
Probably Duolingo only offers Catalan for Spanish speakers (at least currently) because it is a major priority for Spanish speakers than for English speakers (the same reason why we will have a Guarani course for Spanish speakers course).
About its similarity with Spanish, yes, it is quite similar, as it is a romance language, but while Spanish is in the Ibero-Romance subfamily (along with Portuguese and Galician), Catalan is in the Gallo-Romance subfamily (along with French and Occitan), so you can see that it is closer to French than to Spanish. Some linguists classify Catalan and Occitan as a separated branch (Occitano-Romance), turning them equally distant from Spanish and French. There are also people that consider Catalan and Occitan as Ibero-Romance languages too, but in this case Spanish, Portuguese and Galician are Western Ibero-Romance languages, while Catalan and Occitan are Eastern Ibero-Romance languages.
So Catalan isn't there because it is close from Spanish, as we can see there is Guarani exclusively for Spanish speakers too and is a language totally different from Spanish.
Catalan is a different language altogether, not a dialect of " Spanish" (Castillian).
It's not weird at all . I already had experience learning one Latin language from another (Portuguese from Spanish at university), so I knew what to expect, but yes, it works and is a good way to keep up with Spanish. At any rate, loads of people on Duolingo do this or similar things. It makes sense to learn a related language from a related one rather than from your mother tongue if it's less related and you are quite good at one of the related languages already.
I've done a few lessons in Catalan and I'm doing the reverse tree for Spanish now, and I have noticed that my Spanish has gotten better just by doing a few Catanlan lessons. They assume you know how to speak European Spanish, which aside from some vocabulary isn't too different from Latin American Spanish... Except they have Vosotros, 2nd person plural informal. Catalan has thier own version of this word, so because to course is teaching this to you you get to learn from a different dialect of Spanish (because Catanlan is mostly spoken in Northern Spain, including the capital, Barcelona). In all, I would say it actually is beneficial, because you're strengthening the language you're learning from as well as learning another language. I would only recommend it if you are confident in Spanish, however, so you don't get the two mixed up, as they are very similar.
I hope by Barcelona is the capital, you mean the capital of Cataluña. If I have not missed anything important, the capital of Spain is still Madrid, centered pretty much in the center of the country. ;-)
Thank you very much for your advice! So Catalan can be considered very similar to Spanish...that makes Catalan easy b/c of its similarities to Spanish, but hard b/c differentiating between Catalan and Spanish could get confusing.
It's not a dialect. It's a sister language. It has much in common with French as well. Many words will be different from Spanish that will be more similar to French or Italian.
Yes, like "dona" (woman) is similar to the Italian "donna" (woman), not the Spanish/Portuguese "mujer" or "mulher."
Exactly, you can have whole sentences that look the same in Spanish and Catalan, like 'ella compra una casa', but then others that are very different, like les dones volen menjar maduixes = las mujeres quieren comer fresas.
I am studying Catalan, Portuguese, Italian and French (along with some other languages). I already speak Spanish.
In my opinion, Catalan is closer to French (or even to Italian) than to Spanish. Actually I would say Spanish is closer to Portuguese than to Catalan.
Catalan has a very curious sound, many words are as if they kind of "cut" the last letter or syllable of a similar Spanish word (or the other way around, as if many Spanish words are like a similar Catalan word + an additional syllable), and this makes a very curious sound, as if the words (in general) are shorter than in Spanish, as if they speak faster.
I'd like to know how you come to the conclusion that not many Catalan speakers are speaking English? English is taught in Spanish schools, probably in some Catalan regions the students are speaking better English than Spanish :D
In general it's definitely useful to know a bit for holidays, even though you'll understand most things if you know French and Spanish. Even though knowing Catalan is definitely a must if you want to live/study/work in the Catalan region.
Thanks for responding! I was trying to figure out why there is no Catalan for English speakers course, so I guessed that there aren't enough speakers out there.
The Catalan team has plans to make courses of Catalan for English/French/Italian speakers after this course leaves beta. When that happens, and which course comes next, is likely the choice of the Powers That Be at Duolingo.
How useful it is to learn a language, differs from person to person. I for one think that there are no useless languages in the world. Studying a language like catalan opens the door to people's culture, world views and identity. It is not that you "need" it, in the past 20 years I had no problems surviving there by using Spanish-Spanish, except for once. But I think he refused to understand me because he was not a fan of Germans and not because I didn't speak catalan though. Since I started learning catalan, I had several "Aw, that's why" moments about things my catalan and balearic friends said or did. It expands your horizon and it is fun. Or, well, at least it is for me :-)
I found the differences between Catalán and Spanish to be somewhat reflective of the differences between Portuguese and Spanish. Portuguese felt like a Frenchman had tweaked Spanish so that he would be more comfortable with it. Catalán felt more like a Spaniard had tweaked with French so he would be more comfortable with it, but with a little Italian thrown in.
Lol, I like the way you described the differences! :) It's actually very true.
I'm also an Anglo doing the Catalan for Spanish speakers tree, and I'm interested in continuing to learn Catalan after I finish. There are certain things about it I find really endearing - the 'x' sounds, the italian-style posessive adjectives, the past participles, and - this especially - the way in which the past periphastic (the 'jo vaig + infinitive' past) has mostly replaced the past simple. Whereas most languages say I'm going to... referring to the future (Je vais..., Yo voy a..., Io vado a...,) Catalan uses it to refer to the past when it's in its more formal form, and to refer to the future when it's in the more casual form and followed by an 'a'. This sounds super complicated, but it's actually really fun... The past simple is the most problematic tense for me in Spanish and Italian, and while it's also not used very much in French I don't like it when I come across it (of course, the past simple in English is even uglier and more annoying). I love the idea of telling stories by talking about 'going' into the past, since I'm an arqueòleg, and I would love to keep a diary/dream diary in Català when I get a little further along.
There's no practical reason for me to learn Catalan (though Barcelona and its environs are beautiful, and I would love to visit Menorca), but languages aren't all about utility. Lexically, Catalan is actually as similar to French as it is to Spanish (85), and it's allegedly more similar to Italian (87). Since I'm working with all three languages, I have a problem where they fight for dominance as my 'second' language, and end up erasing or sabotaging each other. So I don't know, perhaps it might be better to work with Catalan as a bridge between the three.
I hope you stick at aquest llenguatge boig, and if anyone else is interested in forming an English->Catalan study group, feel free to message me.
I must say that I enjoyed reading your post. I am a Catalan native and it is the first time that I think of the periphrastics as fun. Count me in the study group.
What do the numbers 85 and 87 mean?
Thank you! And thanks for your work volunteering with the language learning platform. 85 and 87 - actually 0.85 and 0.87 - are measures of the similarity between vocabularies, where 1 is completely similar and 0 is completely different. I made a mistake, though, Catalan is apparently 0.85 with Spanish and Portuguese, and 0.87 with Italian, but there are no numbers for French - I'm guessing it would be higher, maybe 0.88 or 0.89. Anything over around 0.6 you can apparently understand with effort, and 0.9 is supposed to be relatively easy. But of course, there's a lot of problems with trying to mathematically say how close a language is to another, since it depends on who's talking and what they're talking about.
Of course, languages are beautiful because of their differences, and it's really cool to see how even a difference of 10, 15 or 20% can make a language sound and feel completely different. The mathematical approach works for basic conversations, but I think once you start talking about things like idioms, poetry, jokes, stories... simply understanding the rough meaning of the words is not enough to really be fluent in the language.
This scientific approach seems very interesting to me. Could you provide a link to get further information about the method used to calculate this similarity index?
About Catalan and French, I can tell you that it is probably easier for a Catalan native to understand Italian than French, due to the phonetics. Even though many words are recognizable in writing, the spoken French is another story, specially the standard (Paris area) one. French has a lot of vocalic sounds (mainly nasal ones) that Catalan lacks and make difficult for us to tell what has been said. The pronunciation in the South of France is a little easier to understand for us. They have another language there, the Occitan (to which they refer derisively as a patois, a hick dialect) that is closely related to Catalan. Occitan is also called langue d'oc in French, the language of oc, which means yes, as opposed to oil, the way the people of the North said the same and evolved to the modern oui. Maybe many of the similarities between the modern French and Catalan come from the Occitan.
Italian is very easy for us Catalans to pronounce and we can tell what has been said, even though we cannot understand the meaning of a lot of words. I am currently studying the language and I have found that the grammar is also very straightforward to me, but I am still in the early stages and maybe there are hidden traps stalking in the road. What I can say is that I had much more trouble with my first steps in French territory, but again I had much less linguistic knowledge than I have today.
And I completely agree with you that every new language opens a new world of meaning and subtlety. I am happy to know that others share my little pleasures!