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What Are the Differences Between Spanish and Catalan?

Spain_flagBoth of them are Romance languages, but Catalan—contrary to popular belief—is not a dialect of Spanish, but rather an entirely different language. In fact, looks nothing like the Spanish that today’s Spanish-speakers use. If we were to compare it with another language, it would appear more similar to Portuguese or French. The Catalan language comes directly from Latin, and it is just as old as all of these previously mentioned languages.

Another interesting fact is that Catalan has a “twin language” called Occitan (also known as Provençal). This language is spoken in the south of France, in the Catalonia valley, and in some parts of the Piedmont region of Italy.

Catalan is the official language of Catalonia, and is spoken in large urban centers such as Barcelona. The working class in urban areas mostly speaks Spanish, as the majority of them are immigrants or their children arrived in Catalonia from other regions of Spain; the middle and upper classes in the city speak Catalan.

Nowadays, those who speak Catalan also speak Spanish fluently. However, in primary, secondary, and university level education in the region, Catalan is the principal language.

Catalan is not only spoken in the Catalonia region, but also in:


-Balearic Islands (Mallorca and the rest of the islands)

-the Valencia region

-parts of Aragon

-Roussillon, the French Catalonia, on the other side of the Pyrenees

-In Alghero, a village in Italy

Catalan and Spanish have:

-different grammar

-different pronunciation

-different vocabulary

-different spelling rules

In summary, they are two completely separate and different languages.

As examples, the following table shows some of the most obvious differences between Catalan and Spanish:

Catalan            Spanish               (English Translation)

cadira                   silla                        (chair)

net                          limpio                   (clean)

brut                       sucio                     (dirty)

got                         vaso                      (drinking glass)

terra                      piso                       (floor)

finestra                ventana               (window)

taula                     mesa                      (table)

Catalan is spoken by 11 million people, most of which are in the eastern and northeastern regions of Spain. In comparison, Spanish is the official language of 21 countries, and is spoken by 400 million people.

To view the Spanish version of this post, go to:

¿Cuáles son las diferencias entre el español y catalán?