Very often, interpreters, who because of the nature of their profession have – or should have – a broad general knowledge of such things as peoples, languages and cultures, become the recipients of comments and questions about their working languages and others.
That’s why we decided to use our blog to shed some light on the languages that surround us, starting with a “minority” (we are not keen on this term, as every language is unique and of equal value with every other language; hence the quote marks) language – with added emphasis; you will see why –, Catalan. The information you will find in this series of articles is subjective (as to the ranking, i.e. “why this and not something else”) and is no more than a short summary for those who want a quick introduction to languages both familiar and unfamiliar to them. Let’s begin!
Not only is it not a dialect, but – quite the opposite – it includes within it numerous dialects belonging to the broader family of Catalan, being a completely separate, distinct and fully normalised language entity.
- Catalan is a completely separate, distinct and fully normalised language entity, in contrast to what many people, who have not delved into the issue or who approach it with excessive naivete, believe – and wrongfully disseminate from time to time.
- Not only is it not a dialect, but – quite the opposite – it includes within it numerous dialects belonging to the broader family of Catalan: Valencian (Valencià), the north-west dialect (Nord-occidental), the central dialect, the dialect of the Balearic Islands (Balear) and the northern dialect (often referred to as Roussillonese-rossellonès), which together with Algherese (alguerès) – a Catalan dialect found in Alghero, Sardinia – are divided in more or less 21 versions of the language and fall into one of two major categories: western and eastern Catalan (català occidental and català oriental, respectively).
- Catalan is spoken by 10 million people and is the mother tongue of about half of them. It is spoken over an area of 68,730 square kilometres and includes 1,687 municipal entities.
- Catalan is part of the larger family of Indo-European languages and the subcategory of the Romance languages (or Latin or neo-Latin languages). In other words, it is amongst the descendant languages of Latin which gradually took form after the disintegration of the Roman Empire and originated from colloquial (Vulgar) Latin. This same family of Latin-based languages includes some of those with the largest number of speakers worldwide: Spanish, Portuguese and French.
- Catalan is the only official language of the Principality of Andorra and the native language of 43.8% of that region’s inhabitants.
- The largest Catalan-speaking community outside Europe is in Argentina, with 200,000 speakers, while there are also sizeable Catalan-speaking communities in the USA, France, Italy and elsewhere.
- At its peak, Catalan gained a strong foothold in the broader Mediterranean region through the expansionist policies of James I of Aragon, known also as James the Conqueror. The Catalans have also left traces in modern Greece, where part of it had been occupied by the Almogavars of the Catalan Company in the 14th century. In fact, after the Battle of Halmyros (1311), they seized the better part of the Duchy of Athens and, taking advantage of the situation that had developed there, expanded to the north, taking over the capital of Thessaly, Neopatras (modern Ypati), in 1319. By 1325, they had also captured Zitouni (modern Lamia), Lidoriki, Sidirokastro and Vitrinitsa (modern Tolofona).
Podium is the only company in Greece whose human resources include professionals who undertake to cover all types of language services from and into Catalan.
EXTRA TIP: The Catalans and Catalan speakers in general have a very special bond to their language for reasons that include the periodic challenges to their right to speak and to teach it in the same way all official languages of the world are. Another reason is also the power of the Spanish language, which very often overshadows – or even cancels out – the existence of Catalan. It is a well-known secret that whoever wants to capture the heart of the Catalans, whether for commercial, cultural or other purposes, only has to respect Catalan and communicate his message in that language.
Among the clients of Podium, one may find institutions, companies and organisations from Catalonia, including the Barcelona football club, the public Catalan television station and public Catalan radio (TV3, Catalunya Ràdio), the Ramon Llull Institute (a public cultural body for the dissemination of the Catalan language and literature to the rest of the world), Catalan radio RAC1, and others.
Podium is the only company in Greece whose human resources include professionals who undertake to cover all types of language services from and into Catalan. This is also attested to by the fact that it is the only hub of multilingual services in Greece that is the exclusive language service provider for institutions, companies and organisations from Catalonia, including the Barcelona football club, the public Catalan television station and public Catalan radio (TV3, Catalunya Ràdio), the Ramon Llull Institute (a public cultural body for the dissemination of the Catalan language and literature to the rest of the world), Catalan radio RAC1, and others. Lastly, people from Podium have translated more than 20 plays from Catalan into Greek and the reverse, as well as books from Catalan into Greek.