Aprèn català!

Catalan is a Romance language (i.e. derived from Latin) spoken by over 9 million people in four European countries. It is a close cousin of Occitan, spoken in France, and has many similarities to French and Italian, and is also close to Spanish. Most speakers of Catalan live in Spain, particularly in the regions of Catalonia, the Valencian Community and the Balearic Islands. Catalan is an official language in two countries: Andorra and Spain, though it is also spoken in a small corner of southeastern France and in the town of l'Alguer (Alghero) on the island of Sardinia in Italy.

This blog focuses primarily on Standard Catalan, which is the dialect spoken in Barcelona.

Benvinguts, i gaudiu-ne! Welcome, and enjoy!
Posts tagged "catalonia"

Lesson 3 // Stress and Syllables

In this lesson, we’ll learn where the syllables form in Catalan words as well as look at stress, or “accent”, and which syllables get extra emphasis.

In Catalan, the vowels determine how many syllables a word will have.  A word like temps has one syllable, as do words like sel, cor, and bo.  One vowel, one syllable.  Monosyllabic words (words with one syllable) have no specific stress, and the stress can change based on their position in a sentence or emphasis.

Dipthongs, or vowel pairs, count as one syllable in Catalan.  For example, the word aire (ai-re) has two syllables despite having three vowels.  The dipthongs in Catalan are: ai, ei, oi, ui, au, eu, iu, ou, uu.  In order to split apart a dipthong and create another syllable, we use what’s called a diaresis, which are two dots placed on top of the second vowel to separate it.  It is also the symbol that’s used in  and  to separate the u (in fact, ua, üe, üi and uo after q and g are also considered dipthongs [aigua (ai-gua)]).  When the word has two syllables, an accent mark, called a tilde, is used.  For example, look at the noun pairs veí (ve-i) and veïna (ve-i-na).

Here are how we split words into syllables in Catalan:

  1. One consonant between two vowels forms a separate syllable: petita (pe-ti-ta), telèfon (te-le-fon).  Also, unstressed i and u behave like consonants, like in the words joia (jo-ia) and diuen (di-uen).
  2. Two or more consonants between vowels make the last consonant form a syllable with the second vowel: llista (llis-ta), ofendre (o-fen-dre).  If the second consonant is an l or r, the two consonants are not split, like in programa (pro-gra-ma).
  3. Gu, qu, ny and ll are never split: aquelles (a-que-lles), canya (ca-nya).

Now let’s look at stress.

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