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Only 60% of Catalan residents know how to write in Catalan whereas all can do it in Spanish

A study has found that the Catalan language is used less than Spanish in Catalonia. In addition, only 40% of foreigners are able to speak Catalan. In total 95% of Catalan residents understand the language, 77% know how to speak it and 60% can write in it. When it comes to Spanish almost 100% of residents can both read and write in it.


31 March 2011 10:49 PM



Barcelona (ACN).- A scientific study from the \u2018Institut d\u2019Estudis Catalans\u2019, the Catalan Academy of Language, and FUNDACC confirmed what was already widely known in Catalonia: Catalan is at a disadvantage in relation to Spanish. Only 60% of Catalan residents (foreigners included) are able to write in Catalan. On the other hand almost 100% of them can do it in Spanish. Oral skills are in a better position with 77% of those asked being able to speak in Catalan. Only 40% of those born outside of Spain are able to speak Catalan. When looking at the first language of residents, 56.7% consider Spanish to be their mother tongue, 35.3% said it was Catalan and 7.6% answered another language. This data confirms that knowledge of Catalan has improved in the last 23 years. The study was carried out in 2010 with 31, 000 residents being surveyed.

According to the study, the sociolinguistic makeup of Catalonia demonstrates that Spanish remains the dominant language. 56.7% of Catalan residents consider Spanish to be their mother tongue, 35.3% consider it to be Catalan while 7.6% said another language. When comparing this data to language use and language skills, almost 100% of Catalan residents understand and know how to speak, write and read Spanish. Excluding people born outside of Spain, the figures show that 100% are completely comfortable with Spanish. This therefore means everybody with Catalan as their mother tongue can understand, read, write and speak Spanish. However, when taking people with Spanish as their mother tongue or foreign born residents into account, many lack Catalan language skills.

If we consider all Catalan residents, only 60% can write in Catalan. 77% of Catalan residents know how to speak Catalan and 95% understand it. The figures show a lower level among Catalans born outside of Catalonia in other areas of Spain: only 57% know how to speak Catalan. Furthermore, taking only people living in Catalonia but born outside of Spain, only 40% are able to speak the language.

Looking at how the languages are used, 56% of Catalans use Spanish as their regular language for communication while 39% use Catalan. The study also finds that the use of Catalan is more widespread in formal situations, such as for studies, than in informal situations, such as the language used among friends. 55% use Catalan in their studies and only 20% use it regularly among friends. In addition, 32% of Catalans use it regularly at home.

Catalan in the Balearic Islands and Valencian Community

Catalan is not only spoken in Catalonia but also in the Balearic Islands (Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera), as well as in many parts of the Valencian Community, in the French Roussillon (known as \u2018Northern Catalonia\u2019), in the Sardinian town of Alghero and in Andorra, the small independent country in the Pyrenees. The study looked at the Catalan language in the Valencian Community (where it receives the official name of \u201CValencian\u201D) and in the Balearic Islands. In Catalonia 35.3% of residents consider Catalan to be their mother tongue, compared to 53% of Balearic Islanders. In the Valencian Community the percentage drops to only 22% of residents. Taking into account Catalonia, the Valencian Community and the Balearic Islands, which altogether have 13.6 million inhabitants, 32% consider Catalan to be their first language.


  • A foreigner attends a class of Catalan language (by ACN)

  • A foreigner attends a class of Catalan language (by ACN)