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The Catalan in Catalonia

Catalan is used in an area of ​​68 730 km2 spoken, which extends over four European countries (Spain, France, Andorra and Italy) and in which more than 13.5 million people live. So the question arises: how many of these people understand Catalan? Or, to put it more precisely: how many people speak Catalan?

Where Catalan is spoken

The position of Catalan differs in the different language areas. The situation in Catalonia, Andorra and the western area of ​​Franja de Ponent (part of Aragon on the border with Catalonia) must be distinguished from the situation in L'Alguer (in Sardinia) and the so-called Catalunya Nord (in the French department of Pyrénées-Orientales) . In Catalonia and Franja de Ponent, almost everyone understands Catalan and the proportion of people who also speak the language is over 75%. In L'Alguer and Catalunya Nord, however, only half of the population understand Catalan and less than half can speak it. The other two areas where Catalan is spoken, the Balearic Islands and the Valencian Community, occupy a middle position. Overall, it can be said that of the 13.5 million people who live in the Catalan-speaking area, 9 million speak Catalan and 11 million understand Catalan.

Who speaks Catalan

It is extremely important to relate this data to the age of the people. In Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and the Valencian Community, it is the young people who understand and speak Catalan best. In Catalonia, for example, more than 75% of the population speak Catalan, a percentage that increases to 90% in the 15-29 age group. Today it has become very difficult to find young people in Catalonia who cannot be spoken to in Catalan.

Catalan in education

These figures show that Catalan is not a minority language or a hidden language that is only spoken by the older generations and is in danger of disappearing because parents no longer teach it to their children. Apart from Franja de Ponent, Catalunya Nord and L'Alguer, Catalan is the official language in its entire linguistic area and is present to a certain extent in all areas of social life. For example, Catalan is taught in all schools and many children, especially in Catalonia, are taught almost exclusively in this language. Catalan is also spoken in universities. In Catalonia, more than 70% of students take the university entrance exams in Catalan, and at the various Catalan universities, 60-100% of lectures are held in Catalan. For this reason, it is likely that many foreign students who choose to study in Catalonia will have the opportunity to study one of their subjects in Catalan. This is not an insurmountable challenge if you already speak Spanish, because both languages ​​are very similar. Experience shows that someone who speaks Spanish can understand Catalan in less than two weeks. And with a little will, it is possible to speak the language in just a few weeks and, almost without realizing it, to expand one's cultural spectrum.

Cultural language

The vitality of Catalan can also be seen in the data from cultural statistics. Almost 6,000 Catalan books are published annually in Spain, representing 12% of total Spanish publishing output. 30% of the daily newspapers sold in Catalonia are Catalan and the TV channel with the highest viewing figures is TV3, which broadcasts all programs in Catalan. In the radio sector, Catalunya Ràdio, whose entire program is also presented in Catalan, has the largest audience. In Barcelona, ​​a true theater capital, most of the plays are performed in Catalan. The weak point lies in the cinema area, where the presence of Catalan has not yet reached the percentage that would be expected in a language that is so widely used in cultural life.

Business language

However, Catalan is not only used in education and culture, it is also the language of business and commerce. In Catalonia it is unusual not to be served in Catalan in a bank or shop; on the other hand, many companies are also obliged to have all the written documents for their customers in Catalan. Banks must have check books, travel agencies must have contracts and hotels must have bills in Catalan. In everyday life everyone comes into contact with Catalan. In Catalonia, four documents that are regularly sent to all households are in Catalan: the electricity, telephone, water and gas bills. In many cases, this list also includes the pay slip, which is generally more enjoyable to read than the bills. The spread of Catalan still meets with some resistance in many areas (for example from the courts or the police), but these difficulties can gradually be overcome. Soon Catalan will be just as "normal" a language as other European languages ​​that are demographically comparable, such as Danish, Finnish, Greek or Swedish.