Millions of desperate Duolingo users are awaiting its arrival in the Incubator. Many more are curious of what the language is. Whether they're going for a long weekend in Barcelona or simply want to support their Castilian with another local language, Catalan is definitely a popular language on the opinion polls.
As the second-most spoken language in Spain, with roughly 10 million speakers, Catalan is not just the language of the Catalan people but a language used in Catalonia, Valencia (where it's often called valencià), the Balearic Islands, Andorra, a small region of south-eastern France and a port in Sardinia. After the death of Franco and his dictatorship in 1975, when the use and promotion of the Catalan language was banned, Spain became a monarchy again and the use of the nation's regional languages (Catalan, Galician and Basque) were encouraged and gradually many place names in the respective regions were changed into these local tongues. In Barcelona, for example, the capital of Catalonia and the Catalan-speaking world, street signs are solely in Catalan, despite also having a Spanish (Castilian) name as well. Locals speak Catalan at home and in public, and many businesses use Catalan as their first language.
The good thing about Catalan Spain is that almost every Catalan also speaks Spanish, which makes communication with those from regions of Spain whose only official language is Castilian and foreigners easier. Spanish is the official language in every region in Spain, although local languages and dialects are actively promoted and encouraged.
A little bit of history out the way, I'd like to hear your opinion on Catalan. Would it be a useful language to learn with Duolingo? (remembering Klingon and Esperanto) How would the course vary from others? Would it be popular?
I don't know myself, that's why I'd like to know what you think.
The "usefulness" of a language is in my opinion very subjective. If you live in your home country your entire life, watch dubbed shows, are not especially interested in other cultures, don't travel, work in a national or small company, how useful is English to you? Not as much as somebody who wants to travel, lives in a multilingual area and needs it for work...
Any language can be useful, for different purposes and different people. And you don't even have to find a language useful to learn it!
It would probably be popular, we've heard about it so much these past few months (and the course should be started at one point) that I'm sure it has an increasing number of fans ^^ I have to say I wasn't in the least interested in it until everyone started talking about it on here and now, I'm actually quite curious about it because it looks like a mix between Spanish (which I learn and really like) and French (my native language). It could be fun :)
However, in case you don't know about it, it will apparently be a course of Catalan for Spanish speakers and not for English speakers at first, so brush up your Spanish ;)
When I first heard Catalan, it immediately struck me as being quite reminiscent of France's Langue d'Oc, Provençal or Occitan (I am a bit uncertain as to whether these are distinct languages or different names for the same language).
It's...complicated ^^ I'm not an expert, so if anone knows better than me, you are welcome to step in!
Langue d'oc can either refer to all the "langues d'oc" or be a synonym for Occitan, although Occitan is sometimes used to refer to all the languages in the family.
As for Occitan and Provençal, it's more political than linguistic. Some argue it's the same language pronounced and written a bit differently (since they are minority languages, they have no standards, so it makes the matter more complicated than it could be), some argue they are two different languages, mostly to defend their own identities.
According to Wikipedia, some linguists consider Occitan is the "main" language and is divided into four languages: Gascon, Occitan méridional (including Provençal which would therefore be a dialect), Nord-Occitan and Catalan...
Occitan is the closest language to Catalan, more than any other Romance language such as Spanish, French or Italian. There is a lot of mutual intelligibility between these languages, but they are definitely separate languages. Both belong to the same linguistic group, the Occitano-Romance or East Iberian branch of Romance languages.
You are welcome :) As a Catalan, it is pretty cool to speak with an Occitan speaker. You get almost the whole sense of the conversation, but you miss a lot of words. It's funny because some words they use were common in Medieval Catalan.
I had no idea Occitan and Catalan were so close before checking Wikipedia, to be honest. It makes the matter even more interesting. Do you often have the chance to meet Occitan speakers?
Not really. We are lucky to have a little piece of Occitania in our borders, the Val d'Aran. They speak a Gascon dialect of Occitan called Aranese, which is not the closest dialect to Catalan, but it has been very influenced by Catalan and Spanish along the time, so you can get the meaning of a text or a conversation easily. But I guess that it is even easier with Lengadocian dialects.
This reminds of the complicated, overlapping nomenclature we use for the various varieties of French spoken in Louisiana.
I'm willing to become a contributor! And not only for Spanish speakers. Many Catalan people in France (Northern Catalonia) are willing to learn it, so a Catalan for French speakers would be very useful. Same with Catalan for Italian speakers for the city of l'Alguer (Alghero in Italian) in Sardinia. And of course, Catalan for English speakers, please!
I'm waiting for it too! Luis said that there will be a Catalan for Spanish speakers.
I'm expecting to be a contributor, at less I hope it. I would love to see that there is so many people interested in this language. :D
I am also planning to take it. I am taking a coursera MOOC from Barcelona (in Español), so I have actually become really interested in the area as well.
I'm looking forward to the Cataln from Spanish course, which I guess will be finished sooner than a Catalan from English course. When it reaches the incubator, I will finish my Spanish tree so I'll be ready for the Catalan course!
I would like to live in Spain one day. My daughter assures me that Tosa is my destiny, so I would like to learn Catalan on the chance that she is right!
Hi Luke, in the past I lived in Barcelona (for three years) and while I think the political, geographical and social context of the language is not as simple as stated up, I still want to take the course as soon as it is available here to complete the street-knowledge I got there :-)
I think it should be added. Live @Erven.R said, Luis said there will be a course for it.
Here there are lot of Catalans we want to contribute to build this new project.
I hope , duolingo adds soon our precious language :=)
I think it would be useful. I would like to go to Barcelona because I've heard that they have a nice coast over there. I would also like to speak to people in their native language because I know I like it when people do the same for me.
I'm waiting for it too :) I'm interested in language change, that's one reason I do all these related languages. Actually, I'm dabbling in Catalan right now, using the really nice Glossika package (they are building a quite large of language packages, translating the same 3,000 sentences into these, so you can order English->Catalan, Catalan->Cantonese, or what not :)
I speak French and Spanish (which help) and I learned some Catalan when going to Barcelona. I personally find it really interesting. I can understand most of it (enough to read an easy book), but I would be glad to understand more and to be able to use it myself. Also, some of the writers I really like write in Catalan, and I think it’s a beautiful language.