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A Romance language, as Portuguese, French and Spanish, Catalan is spoken by 5 million people and is understood by 9 million.
In Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and the Valencian Community (where it is called Valencian), it shares the official language status with Spanish.
It is also spoken in the Aragon Strip, in the city of Alghero (Italy) in the Eastern Pyrenees (France) and in El Carxe, a territory in the Spanish region of Murcia.

By Juliana Tavares
The Catalan language, from the neolatine group, had slow and gradual formation.
According to linguists, it seems that the most profound changes in pronunciation, form, and meaning of the words occurred between the 7th and 8th centuries.
In the 12th and 13th centuries, Catalonia was annexed to Mallorca and to the Valencian Country, commencing its political and cultural expansion within the Iberian Peninsula—which led Catalan to emerge as a language distinct from Latin, with traits of its own.

The first known written texts are fragments of the Catalan version of the Forum ludicum and the Les Hores d’ Organyà sermonary, both from the 12th century.
In that period Catalonia intensified cultural bonds with Occitania (France), influencing the regional literature of the time.
It was only by the end of the 15th century, with the political and cultural changes promoted by the bourgeoisie, that Catalan became a language apt for all public and social uses, divided into several geographic varieties of the language: north-western Catalan, Valencian, and the central and northern Catalan, Balearic and Algherese.

Between 1939 and 1975, during the dictatorship subsequent to the Civil War, persecution of the Catalan language was intense and systematic, with an actual prohibition of publishing books, newspapers or magazines, sending telegrams, and phone conversations in the language, only imparted among family members.
With democratic freedom, the Constitution of 1978 recognized the linguistic plurality of Spain and determined that Spanish languages other than Castilian Spanish could be official, according to the statutes of autonomy.
Today, according to data from Unesco, Catalan is the 22nd language most translated to other languages in the world and, according to a study by Softcatalà—a non-profit association, whose main goal is promoting the use of Catalan language in information technology and social networks—,
Catalan is the 23rd most used language in the Internet.

Fully encoded, normalized and standardized, Catalan has studies on grammar, lexicography, etymology, dialectology, terminology, language history and onomastics comparable to those of great Latin tongues.
According to the publication “Catalan: European language", by the culture department of Catalonia, the language has a normative dictionary (from the Catalan Studies Institute) and has a large number of editorial dictionaries.
In addition, Catalan has the capability of elaborating and disseminating a great variety of neologisms.
Hence, technical translations to Catalan require knowledge from specialists in the language and its dialects.