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Catalan language
Gerona, CataloniaThe language was born in early Middle Ages in Catalonia, a region in northeastern Spain. Catalan is spoken, in Spain, in the provinces of Girona, Lleida (Lerida), Barcelona, Tarragona, Castella de la Plana, Valencia, Alacant, and the Balearic Islands; in France, in nearly the whole of the Pyrenees-Orientales (Rossella); in Andorra where it is the official language; and in parts of Cuba and Argentina.

The Catalan language is a Western Romance tongue. For years some philologists held that it was merely a dialectal offshoot of Provençal and that during the Middle Ages it had raised itself for a time to the dignity of a literary language. Subsequent research led other scholars to claim the complete independence of Catalan as a language. Ranged sometimes in the group of Hispanic languages, Catalan has a character as distinctive as that of Castilian (Spanish), Portuguese, and Galician.

Among the characteristics of Catalan are the following: A number of perfect participles are formed from the perfect stem instead of from the infinitive stem; the pronunciation of b and v has not merged, they remain as they were in Latin; the voiced sound of intervocalic s has persisted; in unaccented final vowels, a is retained and other vowels are dropped; the Latin au is changed to o as in Spanish; final dentals are vocalized, which is held to be the essential characteristic of classic Catalan; noun declensions are totally absent; and the original pronunciation of the Latin u is retained in cases in which French and Provençal use ü.

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