Phonological history of Catalan

This article is about the sound changes that happened from Latin to Catalan. For the socio-political history of the language, see History of Catalan.

As a member of the dialect continuum of Romance languages, Catalan evinces linguistic features similar to those of its closest neighbors (Occitan, Aragonese). The following features represent in some cases unique changes in the evolution of Catalan from Vulgar Latin; other features are common in other Romance-speaking areas.


Catalan is one of the Western Romance languages; it is most closely related to Occitan and only diverged from it between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries[1] after the cultural ties with France were broken. In time, Catalan became more tied to the Ibero-Romance languages in Spain; because these languages are significantly more conservative than French (which has been the most important influence over Occitan in the last several hundred years), most of the differences between Catalan and Occitan are due to developments in Occitan that did not occur in Catalan.

Common features with Western Romance languages, but not Italo-Romance
Common features with Gallo-Romance languages
Common features with Occitan, French, and Portuguese, but not Spanish
Common features with Occitano-Romance languages
Common features with Spanish but not Occitan
Features not in Spanish or (most of) Occitan, but found in other minority Romance languages
Unique features not found elsewhere

Historical development

As a Romance language, Catalan comes directly from Vulgar Latin. As such, it shares certain phonological changes from Latin with other Romance languages:[3]


  1. Riquer, Martí de, Història de la Literatura Catalana, vol. 1. Barcelona: Edicions Ariel, 1964
  2. Adams, Douglas Q. (1975), "The Distribution of Retracted Sibilants in Medieval Europe", Language, Linguistic Society of America, 51 (2): 282–292, doi:10.2307/412855, JSTOR 412855
  3. Grandgent (1907:106–137)
  4. Enciclopèdia Catalana - Català - Gramàtica històrica - Sons - Interiors simples
  5. Enciclopèdia Catalana - Català - Gramàtica històrica - Sons - Geminades
  6. Grandgent (1907:61–62)
  7. Grandgent (1907:69, 105)
  8. Grandgent (1907:71)
  9. 1 2 Grandgent (1907:72)
  10. Grandgent (1907:99–102)


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