dijous, 15 d’octubre de 2009

A hit on the Internet

Before anything else I would like to warn you: in this post the proud girl inside me is writing. Why? I read something it made me feel proud of my mother tongue.

Catalan has roughly 9 million speakers, which means that it is the 88th most spoken language in the world -out of the more or less 6000 that have been identified nowadays. (One could say, looking at this figure, that Catalan enjoys good health. It is not really the case, however. Anyway, this is would fit much better in another post.)

What catched my attention some days ago was that a minorised language as Catalan is, has an extraordinary presence on the Internet:

- It is the 15th most used language on Wikipedia -or Viquipèdia in Catalan (200,000 entries).
- It is the 17th most used language on web pages.
- It is the 8th most used language on blogs.

I could not believe my ears when I heard and then read this. Especially the figure related to blogs. Even bearing in mind that 90% languages in the world have no presence on the Internet, that makes an impressive number! This is really good for the language, as it indicates that people see it as a normal vehicle of communication. Besides, the Internet, is a powerful tool for less spoken or minorised -made minoritarian- languages: on the net these language can have a voice which reaches the whole world.

There even has been a congress, which discussed this case success and what could be done to take advantage of the Internet in similar cases. The congress was held by the "Casa de les Llengües" (The House of Languages), which is financed by the Catalan government and aims at studying and taking advantage of multilingualism, exploring the richness of languages. By the way, I strongly reccomend you to visit their webpage: it is really complete with all kinds of activities and...it is truly multilingual! (I think I would really love to work there).

Why was I so happy then? I'm sick of hearing offence against Catalan, and Catalans (most of times by politicians and conservative people), I am sick of how little by little our language is blurred by monolingual strategies which disregard it (why some people in Spain see bilingualism as bad?). This piece of new was a new breath of fresh air, something positive among all this.

So this is all: proud girl mode Off :D.

"El català, un exemple a Internet" (Catalan , an example over the Internet)
-Ethnologue, Languages of the world: http://www.ethnologue.com/
-Casa de les Llengües: http://www.linguamon.cat/
- Viquipèdia: http://ca.wikipedia.org/wiki/

11 comentaris:

anna ha dit...

So it seems that Catalan is very alive and far from becoming a dead language. Impressive.

Anna ha dit...

At least on the net :D.
Indeed it won't become a dead language in the near future, but I could discuss for hours about its health state (but don't worry, I won't bore you ;) )

Jim Morrison ha dit...

Hi Anna,
The figures are very impressive!
I think the world outside Spain is slowly starting to know that Catalonia exists and what it represents (e.g. a distinct culture and language).
Have a look at this writeup of the 'Arenys de Munt' stuff in the finantial times:
This is an English language news paper and the article has a relatively favorable tone towards the Catalan's efforts.

Isabel ha dit...

Hi Anna,

I don't know why people would be so opposed to the Catalan language, although I suspect it might be due to a biased political view as is the case with some people's views on Euskara.

By the way, I would really like to learn Catalan (although I already understand it a bit through reading news on Barça in Catalan and watching Crackòvia) so are there any online programs (at a reasonable price) or any self-study books you could suggest? I don't mind learning it through English or Spanish.

Anna ha dit...

Hi Jim! I did not know that the popular poll in Arenys de Munt appeared in Financial Times! Sure I will take a look at the article :). In fact I wanted to write about it when it took place but I forgot. In any case, there are going to be massive polls on December 13th and I will definitely write about it. And surely, I will use this article you reccomend :)

Anna ha dit...

Kaixo Isabel, benvinguda al blog!

A good way to learn Catalan is just doing what you do: reading and listening to TV programmes like Crackòvia and Polònia. They are indeed in Catalan but the context is not-Catalan only so, if you know what the context is, getting to understand the words is not so difficult as without it.

Are you living in Catalonia currently? I know there are free basic courese in CPNL (Consorci Pr la Normalització Lingüística) which are for free. You have to pay for higher courses, though.

AS you may have already noticed, Catalan is not so different from Spanish, and that helps learning. Another thing are interferences. When people who can speak Spanish arrive in Catalonia and hear Catalan it is difficult to understand, because we tend to speak much faster than Spanish and join words all together (like French) and so letter at the end of words can shift its sound depending on the word following. But reading indeed is much much easier (a question of cutting the last letters of words sometimes -"informació" instead of "información" and stuff like that), which really helps understanding.

As you may know getting to understand a language is easier than to talk it, so lots of times in Catalonia we find that people understand the language but cannot reply well and so they use Spanish. But it is already a great step if they understand.
Normally people are able to fully understand Catalan (if they are free from prejudice) in about 9 to 12 months, if they are Spanish or know a lot of Spanish.

So in this case, Catalan, as it is a Romance language like Spanish, is much easier to learn than Euskara, which it will also be great to learn! (by the way "Euskara" or "Euskera"?) By the way it is really funny to hear Euskara mixed with Spanish it makes a curious combination :D.

I am afraid I do not know much about self-study books. I know that for Catalan courses the well-known "Digui-Digui" is used. Searching on the web I've found this: http://www.grup62.cat/www/grup62/ca/cataleg.html, books by "Editorial 62" on Catalan self-learning.

If you go to Fnac in BCN (I do not know about other Fnacs in Spain) you will find books for learning Catalan and related books, which might be directly for Spanish speakers to learn Catalan.

Through English, try Alan Yates's books: http://books.google.cat/books?id=09lTODgrmoMC&printsec=frontcover&dq=alan+yates#v=onepage&q=&f=false

Well, I think you inspired to do research on this :)

Fins aviat!

Jim Morrison ha dit...

Hi Isabel,
I am also learning Catalan and my girlfriend made these lessons:

I have also used digui digui a bit and also 'Teach Yourself Catalan' by Alan Yates and Anna Poch.
Que vagi be,

Jim Morrison ha dit...

Hi, That link didn't come out properly.
Just go to:
and click on 'Learn Catalan with MLN'
I will look forward to reading what you say about the votes on december 13th. Interesting times!!

Isabel ha dit...

Kaixo Anna!

I did try to watch Polònia but I didn't enjoy/understand it as much as Crackòvia. The latter has also taught me about some Catalan traditions like the tió de Nadal.

No, I currently live in Burbank, CA in the USA although I do have plans of moving to Spain (most like either in Catalunya or Euskadi) though but that might take a while.

I did notice that whenever I read articles in Catalan I do automatically understand about 40-55% due to the words that are similar or the same as ones in Spanish.

I'm actually in the process of learning Euskara right now, which is much harder for me so I haven't been able to focus as much on Catalan as I would want to. Oh, and I usually just say Euskara as that's what the Euskaltzaindia (Academy for the Basque Language) recommends but in Spanish, Euskera is acceptable too. :) Spanish and Euskara combined is indeed funny! Since I can't speak Euskara in complete sentences yet, I try to pepper my sentences with words or phrases and it really sounds unusual but it's fun.

Thanks for the suggestions! I just got Alan Yate's "Teach Yourself Catalan" (a lucky find on Bookmooch) as well as an English-Catalan Catalan-English dictionary. But I'll try to find an instruction book from Spanish to Catalan as sometimes, I learn grammatical concepts better when explained in Spanish, even though technically, my English is better than my Spanish.

moltes gràcies per ajudar-me!

Isabel ha dit...

Hi Jim,

Thanks for the link! I actually used those lessons on MNL a few weeks ago and they're nicely done.

Where did you get the Digui Digui book? I seem to have a hard time finding books from Spain here in America. I usually find some on abebooks.com but shipping is usually around $20-$30 (yikes).

Jim Morrison ha dit...

Hi Isabel,
I bought the digui digui books and tapes in Barcelona in a shop for the Generalitat de Catalunya in les Rambles. I don't know if they would ship books by order.
I actually prefer the teach yourself ones. You can probably get them on Amazon. There is Teach yourself Catalan and Teach yourself Colloquial Catalan. I think they are both very good.
Anyway, bona sort. I will keep my eye on your blog.