1902 Encyclopedia > Spain > Catalan Language

(Part 36)


Catalan Language

I. CATALAN.--This domain now embraces, on the mainland, the Spanish provinces of Gerona, Barcelona, Tarragona, and Lérida (the old principality of Catalonia), and of Castellón de la Plana, Valencia, and Alicante (the old kingdom of Valencia), and, in the Mediterranean, that of the Balearic Islands (the old kingdom of Majorca). Catalan, by its most characteristic features, belongs to the Romance of southern France and not to that of Spain; it is legitimate, therefore, to regard it as imported into Spain by those Hispani whom the Arab conquest had driven back beyond the mountains into Languedoc, and who in the 9 th century regained the country of their origin; this conclusion is confirmed by the fact that the dialect is also that of two French provinces on the north of the Pyrenees—Eoussillon and Cerdagne. From the 9th to the 12th century Catalan spread further and further within the limits of Catalonia, properly so called; in 1229 it was brought to Majorca by Jaime el Conquistador, and in 1238 the same sovereign carried it to Valencia also. Even Murcia was peopled by Catalans in 1266, but this province really is part of the Castilian conquest, and accordingly the Castilian element took the upper hand and absorbed the dialect of the earlier colonists. The river Segura, which falls into the Mediterranean in the neighbourhood of Orihuela, a little to the north of Murcia, is as nearly as possible the southern boundary of the Catalan domain; westward the boundary coincides pretty exactly with the political frontier, the provinces of New Castile and Aragón not being at all encroached on. Catalan, which by the reunion of Aragón and the countship of Barcelona in 1137 became the official language of the Aragonese monarchy,—although the kingdom of Aragón, consisting of the present provinces of Saragossa, Huesca, and Teruel, has always been Castilian in speech,—established a footing in Italy also, in all parts where the domination of the kings of Aragón extended, viz., in Sicily, Naples, Corsica, and Sardinia, but it has not maintained itself there in modern times except in a single district of the last-named island (Alghero); everywhere else in Italy, where it was not spoken except by the conquerors, nor written except in the royal chancery, it has disappeared without leaving a trace.

From the 13th century the name given to the vulgar tongue of eastern Spain has been Catalanesch {Catalaniscus) or Cátala {Catalanus),—the idiom of the Catalans.1 By Catalanesch or Cátala was understood, essentially, the spoken language and the language of prose, while that of poetry, with a large admixture of Provencal forms, was early called Lemosi, Limosi, or. language of Limousin,—Catalan grammarians, and particularly the most celebrated of them, Eamon Vidal de Besalú, having adopted Lemosi as the generic name of the language of the troubadours. These grammarians carefully distinguish the vulgar speech, or pía Cátala, from the refined trobar idiom, which originally is simply a more or less modified form of Provencal. Afterwards, and especially in these parts of the Catalan domain outside of Catalonia which did not care to acknowledge that they derived their language from that province, Lemosi received a more extensive signification, so as to mean the literary language in general, whether of verse or of prose. To this hour, particularly in Valencia and the Balearics, Lemosi is employed to designate on the one hand the old Catalan and on the other the very artificial and somewhat archaizing idiom which is current in the "jochs florals"; while the spoken dialect is called, according to the localities, Valencia (in Valencia), Major qui and Menorqui (in Majorca and Minorca), or Catald (in Catalonia); the form Catalanesch is obsolete.

The principal features which connect Catalan with the Eomance of France and separate it from that of Spain are the following. (1) To take first its treatment of the final vowels,—Catalan, like French and Provencal, having only oxytones and paroxytones, does not tolerate more than one syllable after the tonic accent: thus anima gives arma, camera gives cambra. All the proparoxytones of modern Catalan are of recent introduction and due to Castilian influence. Further, the only post-tonic Latin vowel preserved by the Catalan is, as in Gallo-Roman, a : mare gives mar, gratu{s) gives grat, but anima gives arma; and, when the word terminates in a group of consonants requiring a supporting vowel, that vowel is represented by an e: arb{o)rem, Cat. abre (Prov. and Fr. arbre, but Cast, drbol); pop{u)l{us), Cat. poble (Prov. poble, Fr. peuple, but Cast. pueblo) ; sometimes, when it is inserted between the two consonants instead of being made to follow them, the supporting vowel is represented by an o: escdndol (scandalum), frevol (frivolus), circol (circulus). In some cases a post-tonic vowel other than a is preserved in Catalan, as, for example, when that vowel forms a diphthong with the tonic {Deu, Deus; Ebriu, Hebreus); or, again, it sometimes happens, when the tonic is followed by an i in hiatus, that the i persists {diMvi, diluvium ; servici, servicium ; labi, labium; ciri, cereus); but in many cases these ought to be regarded as learned forms, as is shown by the existence of parallel ones, such as servey, where the atonic i has been attracted by the tonic and forms a diphthong with it {servici, servii, servey). What has just been said as to the treatment of the final vowels in Catalan must be understood as applying only to pure Catalan, unaltered by the predominance of the Castilian, for the actual language is no longer faithful to the principle we have laid down; it allows the final o atonic in a number of substantives and adjectives, and in the verb it now conjugates canto, temo, sento,—a thing unknown in the ancient language. (2) As regards conjugation, only two points need be taken up here :—{a) it employs the form known as the inchoative, that is to say, the lengthening of the radical of the present in verbs of the third conjugation by means of the syllable ex or ix, a proceeding common to Italian, Walachian, Provencal, and French, but altogether unknown in Hispanic Eomance; (b) the formation of a great number of past participles in which the termination is added, as in Provencal, not to the radical of the verb, but to that of the perfect: tingut formed from tinck, pogut from poch, conegut from conech, while Castilian says tenido (formerly also tenudo), podido, conocido, that is to say, it forms those participles from the infinitive.

As for features common alike to Catalan and Hispanic (Castilian and Portuguese) Romance, on the other hand, and which are unknown to French Eomance, there is only one which possesses any importance, the conservation, namely, of the Latin u with its original sound, while the same vowel has assumed in French and Provencal, from a very early period,—earlier doubtless than the oldest existing monuments of those languages,—a labio-palatal pronunciation (_). It is not to be supposed that the separation of Catalan from the Gallo-Roman family should have occurred before the transformation had taken place; there is good reason to believe that Catalan possessed the _ at one time, but afterwards lost it in its contact with the Spanish dialects. The question, however, is one for further examination.

Catalan being a variety of the langue d'oc, it will be convenient to note the peculiarities of its phonetic and inflexion as compared with ordinary Provencal.

Tonic Vowels.—With regard to a, which is pronounced alike in open and close syllables (amar, amare ; abre, arbor), there is nothing to remark. The Latin _, which is treated like i, gives e, sometimes close, sometimes open. On this point Catalan is more hesitating than Provencal; it does not distinguish so clearly the pronunciation of _ according to its origin ; while I (?) is capable of yielding an open e, the _ is often pronounced close, and the poets have no difficulty in making words in e close and in e open rhyme together, which is not the case in Provencal. The Latin £ never yields ie in Catalan as it does in French and occasionally in Provencal ; sedet becomes seu (where _ represents the final d), pedem makes peu, and ego __; in some words where the tonic _ is followed by a syllable in which an i occurs, it may become i {ir, heri; mig, medius ; mils, melius); and the same holds good for _ in a similar situation {ciri, cerius, cereus ; fira, feria), and for e in a close syllable before a nasal {eximpli, exemplum ; mintri for mentire, gint for gent). I tonic long and _ short, when in hiatus with another vowel, produce i (amich, amicus ; via, via). 0 tonic long and _ short are represented by _ close and _ open {amor, amorem; poble, populus). _ short is never diphthongized into uo or ue ; such a treatment is as foreign to Catalan as the diphthongization of _ into ie. Just as e before a syllable in which an i occurs is changed into _, so in the same circumstances _ becomes _ {full, folium ; vull, volio for voleo) and also when the accented vowel precedes a group of consonants like cl, pi, and the like {ull, oc'lus; escull, scop'lus). Latin _ persists with the Latin pronunciation, and, as already said, does not take the Franco-Provencal pronunciation il. Latin au becomes _ {cosa, causa; or, aurum); Old Catalan has kept the diphthong better, but possibly we should attribute the examples of au which are met with in texts of the 13th and 14th centuries to the literary influence of Provence. Latin ua tends to become _ {cor, quare).

Atonic Vowels.—As for the Latin post-tonic vowels already spoken of, it remains to be noted that a is often represented in writing by e, especially before s ; in old Catalan, the substantives, adjectives, and participles readily form their singular in a and their plural in es: arma, amies (anima, animas); bona, bones (bona, bonas); amada, amades (am ata, amatas). This e is neither open nor close, but a surd e the pronunciation of which comes very near a. In the same way the supporting vowel, which is regularly an e in Catalan, is often written a, especially after r (abra, arborem; astra, astrum; para, pat rem); one may say that in the actual state of the language post-tonic e and a become indistinguishable in a surd sound intermediate between the French a and mute e. Eefore the tonic the same change between a and e constantly takes place; one finds in manuscripts enar, emor for anar, amor (the same manner of writing extends even to the case of the tonic syllable, ten and sent from tantum and sanctum being far from rare), and, on the other hand, antre, arrar, for entre, errar. I atonic is often represented by e even when it is long (vehi, vicinus). 0 atonic close, which in genuine Catalan exists only before the tonic, has become _; at the present day truvar, cuntradir is the real pronunciation of the words spelt trovar, contradir, and in the final syllables, verbal or other, where under Castilian influence an _ has come to be added to the normal Catalan form, this _ has the value of _ _: trovo (genuine Catalan, trap) is pronounced trovu ; bravo (genuine Catalan, brau) is pronounced bravu. U atonic keeps its ground.

The only strong diphthongs of the spoken language are di, du (rather rare), ei, __, iu, 6i, 6u, ui, mi. Ai produced by a + i or by a + a palatal consonant has for the greater part of the time become an e in the modern language ; factum has yielded fait, feit, and then fet, the last being the actual form ; arius has given er alongside of aire, ari, which are learned or semi-learned forms. Of the two weak diphthongs id and ua, the latter, as has been seen, tends to become _ close in the atonic syllable, and is pronounced _ : quaranta has become coranta, then curanta. After the tonic ua often becomes a in the Catalan of the mainland {ayga, aqua, llenga, lingua), while in Majorca it becomes _ {aygo, llengo).

Consonants.—Final t readily disappears after ___ I {tan, tantum; aman, venin, partin, for amant, venint, &c.; mol, multum; ocul, ocultum); the t reappears in composition before a vowel {fon, fontem, but Font-alba). On the other hand, a t without etymological origin is frequently added to words ending in r {cart for car, quare ; mart for mar, mare ; amart, ohirt, infinitive for amar, ohir), and even to some words terminating in a vowel {genit, ingenium; premit, premium), or the addition of the t has taken place by assimilation to past participles in it. The phenomenon occurs also in Provençal (see Romania, vii. 107, viii. 110). Median intervocal d, represented by s (s) in the first stage of the language, has disappeared : fidolis gave fesel, then feel, and finally fel ; videtis became vezets, then veets, vets, and ___. Final d after a vowel has produced _ {peu, pedem; niu, nidum;wioM, modum); but, when th-~. d, in consequence of the disappearance of the preceding vowel, rests upon a consonant, it remains and passes into the corresponding surd : frigidus gives fred (pronounced fret). The group dr, when produced by the disappearance of the intermediate vowel, becomes ur {creure, credere; ocïure, occidere; veure, vidëre; seure, sedëre). Final n, if originally it stood between two vowels, falls away {bo, bonum ; vi, vinum), but not when it answers to mn (thus donum makes do, but domnum don; sonum makes so, but somnum son). Nd is reduced to n {demanar, comanariov demandar, comandar). Assibilated _ before e, i is treated like d ; within a word it disappears after having been represented for a while by s (lucere gives llusir, lluhir; recipere gives rezebre, reebre, rebre) ; at the end of a word it is replaced by _ (veu, vicem ; ___, fecit). The group c'r gives ur, just like d'r (jaure, jacëre; naure, nocëre ; picture, placëre ; but facere, dicere, ducere, make far (fer), dir, dur. Initial I has been preserved only in certain monosyllables (the article lo, los) ; everywhere else it has been replaced by l mouillée (Prov. Ih), which in the present orthography is written 11 as in Castilian, but formerly used to be represented by ly or yl (lletra, litera; llengua, lingua). P readily disappears after m, like t after n (cam, campum ; terns, tempus). _ is replaced by the surd p at the enil of a word (trobar in the infinitive, but trop in the present tense) ; so also in the interior of a word when it precedes a consonant (supvenir, subvenire, sopte, sub'to). Median intervocalic /gives v (Estéve, Stephanus); it has disappeared from profundus, which yielded the form preon, then pregon (g being introduced to obviate the hiatus). V, wherever it has been preserved, has the same pronunciation as b ; at the end of a word and between vowels it becomes vocalized into _ (suau, suavis ; viure, vivere). _ guttural, written qu before e and i, keeps its ground as a central and as a final letter ; in the latter position it is generally written ch (amich, amicum ; joch, jo cum). G guttural is replaced as a final letter by surd _ (longa, but lone ; trigar, but trich). Tj after a consonant gives ss (cassar, captiare) ; between vowels, after having been represented by soft s, it has disappeared (rationem gave razô, raysô, then rahô) ; at the end of every word it behaves like is, that is to say, changes into _ (preu, pretium); instead of ts the second person plural of the verb —at(i)s, et(i)s, it(i)s—now has au, eu, _ after havinghad ate, ets, its. Dj gives (j between vowels (verger, viridiarum), and _ as a terminal (written either ig or tx: goig, gaudium, mig, mitx, medium). Stj and sc before _ and i, as well as x andps, yield the sound sh, represented in Catalan by x (angoxa, angustia ; coneixer, cognoscere ; dix, dixit; mateix, metipse). /almost everywhere has taken the sound of the French j (jutge, &c. ). Lj and 11 give I mouillée (Il in the present orthography: fill, filium ; conseil, consilium; null, nullum). In the larger portion of the Catalan domain this l mouillée has become y ; almost everywhere fly is pronounced for fill, consey for conseil. Nj and nn give n mouillée (my in both old and modern spelling: senyor, seniorem; any, annum). Sometimes the ny becomes reduced to y ; one occasionally meets in manuscripts with seyor, ay, for senyor, any, but this pronunciation has not become general, as has been the case with the y having its origin in 11. Lingual r at the end of a word has a tendency to disappear when preceded by a vowel : thus the infinitives amare, temere, *legire are pronounced ami, temé, llegi. It is never preserved except when protected by the non-etymological t already spoken of (llcgirt or llegi, but never llegtr) ; the r reappears, nevertheless, whenever the infinitive is followed by a pronoun (donarme, dirho). Rs is reduced to s (cos for cors, corpus), ff is merely an orthographic sign ; it is used to indicate that two consecutive vowels do not form a diphthong (vehi, raho), and, added to c, it denotes the pronunciation of the guttural _ at the end of a word (amich).

Inflexion.—Catalan, unlike Old Provençal and Old French, has never had declensions. It is true that in certain texts (especially metrical texts) certain traces of case-endings are to be met with, as for example Dens and Deu, amors and amor, clars and clar, forts and fort, tuyt and tots, abduy and abdos, senyer and senyor, emperaire and emperador; but, since these forms are used convertibly, the nominative form when the word is in the objective, and the accusative form when the word is the subject, we can only recognize in these cases a confused recollection of the Provençal rules known only to the literate but of which the transcribers of manuscripts took no account. Catalan, then, makes no distinctions save in the jjender and the number of its nouns. As regards the formation of the plural only two observations are necessary. (1) Words which have their radical termination in n but which in the singular drop that n, resume it in the plural before s: hominem makes ome in the singular and omens in the plural; asinum makes ase and asens. (2) Words terminating in s surd or sonant and in x anciently formed their plural by adding to the singular the syllable es {bras, brasses; pres, preses; mateix, mateixes), but subsequently, from about the 15th century, the Castilian influence substituted os, so that one now hears brassos, presos, mateixos. The words in tx, sc, st have been assimilated to words in s (x); from bosch we originally had the plural bosches, but now boscos; from trist, tristes, but now tristos. For these last in si there exists a plural formation which is more in accordance with the genius of the language, and consists in the suppression of the s before the t; from aquest, for example, we have now side by side the two plurals aquestos, in the Castilian manner, and aquets. The article is lo, los (pronounced lu, lus in a portion of the domain), fern, la, les {las). Some instances of li occur in the ancient tongue, applying indifferently to the nominative and the objective case; el applying to the singular is also not wholly unknown. On the north-western border of Catalonia, and in the island of Majorca, the article is not a derivative from Ule but from ipse (sing. mase, es or so, fern, sa ; pi. masc. es, and also ets, which appears to come from istos,-—ets for ests, like aquets for aquests,—fern. sas). Compare the corresponding Sardinian forms su, sa, pi. sos, sas. On the pronouns it has only to be remarked that the modern language has borrowed from Castilian the composite forms nosaltres and vosaltres (pronounced also nosaltros and nosatrus), as also the íovmvosté, vusté (Castilian usted for vuestra merced).

Conjugation.—Catalan, and especially modern Catalan, has greatly narrowed the domain of the 2d conjugation in ere ; a large number of verbs of this conjugation have been treated as if they belonged to the 3d in ere; deberé makes deure, videre, veure, and alongside of haber, which answers to habere, there is a form heure which points to habere. A curious fact, and one which has arisen since the 15th century, is the addition of a paragogic r to those infinitives which are accented on the radical; in a portion of the Catalan domain one hears creurer, veurer. Some verbs originally belonging to the conjugation in ere have passed over into that hiir; for example tenére gives tenir alongside oitindre, remanere romanir and romandre. In the gerundive and in the present participle Catalan differs from Provencal in still distinguishing the conjugation in ir from that in er, re,—saying, for example, sentint. As in Provencal, the past participle of a large number of verbs of the 2d and 3d conjugations is formed, not from the infinitive, but from the perfect {pogut, volgut, tingut suggest the perfects poch, volch, tinch, and not the infinitives poder, voter, tenir). In the present indicative and subjunctive many verbs in ir take the inchoative form already described, by lengthening the radical in the three persons of the singular and in the third person of the plural by means of the syllable esc {isc): agrahir has the present indicative agraesch, agraheixes, agraheix, agraheixen, the present subjunctive agraesca, -as, -a, -an (or more usually now agraesqui, -is, -i, -in). The old perfect of the conjugation in ar had é (also i) in the 1st pers. sing, and -d in the 3d ; alongside of the -a, which is proper to Catalan exclusively, we also find, in the first period of the language, -et as in Provençal. Subsequently the perfect of the three conjugations has admitted forms in -r {amares, amdrem, amáreu, amaren), derived from the ancient pluperfect amara, kc, which has held its ground down to the present day, with the meaning of a conditional in some verbs (one still hears fora, haguera). But the simple perfect is no longer employed in the spoken language, which has substituted for it a periphrastic perfect, composed of the infinitive of the verb and the present of the auxiliary anar : vaig pendre, for example, does not mean " I am going to take," but '' I have taken." The earliest example of this periphrastic perfect carries us back to the 15th century. The most usual form of the subj. pres. in spoken Catalan is that in -i for all the three conjugations (ami, -is, -i, -em, -eu, -in; temi, -is, kc.; senti, -is, kc.); it appears to be an abbreviation from -ia, and in effect certain subjunctives, such as cántia, témia, tinguia, vinguia (for cante, tema, tinga, vingia), evidently formed upon sia (subj. of esser), have been and still are used. The samei of the present subjunctive, whatever may be its origin, is still found in the imperfect : arnés, -essis, -es, -essim, kc.

Catalan Dialect of Alghero (Sardinia).—As compared with that of the mainland, the Catalan of Alghero, introduced into this portion of Sardinia by the Aragonese conquerors and colonists, does not present any very important differences ; some of them, such as they are, are explicable by the influence of the indigenous dialects of Sassari andLogudoro. In phonetics one observes—(1) the change of Ij into y as an initial before i (yitx, yigis ; lego, legis), a change which does not take place in the Catalan of the mainland except in the interior, or at the end of the word ; (2) the frequent change of I between vowels and of I after c, g, fporb into r (taura, tabula; candera, candela; sangrot, singultum; frama, flama). In conjugation there are some notable peculiarities. The 1st pers. sing, does not take the o which continental Catalan has borrowed from Castilian (cant, not canto, kc.); the imp. ind. of verbs of the 2d and 3d conjugations has eva, iva instead of ia, a form which also occurs in the conditional (cantariva, drumiriva); the simple perfect, of which some types are still preserved in the actual language (e.g., anighe, aghe), has likewise served for the formation not only of the past participle but also of the infinitive (agJicr, habere, can only be explained by aeh, 3d person of the perfect); the infinitives with r paragogic (viurer, seurer, plourer) are not used (viure, seure, ploure instead); in the conjugation of the present of the verb essar or esser, the 2d pers. sing, ses formed upon the persons of the plural, while continental Catalau says ets (anciently est), as also, in the plural, sem, seu, instead of som, sou, are to be noted ; tenere has passed over to the conjugation in re (trenda = tendre), but it is at the same time true that in ordinary Catalan also we have tindrer alongside of tenir the habitual form; dicere gives not dir but diure, which is more regular.


347-1 The origin of the name Catalanus is

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