Catalan is a Romance language spoken by about 12 million people. It is the official language of Andorra and an official language, along with Spanish, in Catalonia (Catalunya), Valencia (Comunitat Valenciana) and the Balearic Islands. It is also spoken in parts of Aragon and Murcia, Rousillon (Rosselló) in southern France, and in the Sardinian city of Alghero (l'Alguer)
The language of Valencia is known as Valencian, which some Valencians argue is a separate language. Most linguists view it as a variety of Catalan.
Catalan appeared as a distinct language during the 10th and 11th centuries. During the 12th century, Catalan began to appear in writing in scientific, philosophical, financial, religious, legal, literary and historical documents. At that time, Latin and Provençal were the preferred languages for literary and philosophical texts.
After the War of the Spanish Succession (1705-1715), Philip V abolished all the government institutions then existing in Catalonia and implemented Spanish laws. Catalan went through various periods of prohibition and even of repression.
In the 19th century, a period of economic, cultural and national recovery began, known as theRenaixença (Renaissance). Catalan was reborn as the language of literary culture through theJocs Florals (Floral Games - a poetry contest) and through distinguished figures such as Jacint Verdaguer, Narcís Oller and Àngel Guimerà.
The Renaixença raised awareness of the lack of unity in the use of the language (there was no model for a common written language) and of the need to draw up rules on spelling. The founding of the Institut d'Estudis Catalans (Institute of Catalan Studies) in 1907 led to the language being codified through the publication of Normes ortogràfiques (Spelling Rules) in 1913, the Diccionari ortogràfic (Spelling Dictionary) in 1917, and the Gramàtica catalana(Catalan Grammar) by Pompeu Fabra in 1918.