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Catalan phonology

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Title: Catalan phonology  
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Subject: Catalan language, Dental, alveolar and postalveolar nasals, Dental, alveolar and postalveolar lateral approximants, Catalan verbs, Algherese dialect
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Catalan phonology

The phonology of Catalan, a Romance language, has a certain degree of dialectal variation. Although there are two standard dialects, one based on Eastern Catalan and one based on Valencian, this article deals with features of all or most dialects, as well as regional pronunciation differences. Various studies have focused on different Catalan varieties; for example, Wheeler (1979) and Mascaró (1976) analyze Central Eastern varieties—the former focusing on the educated speech of Barcelona and the latter focusing more on the vernacular of Barcelona—and Recasens (1986) does a careful phonetic study of Central Eastern Catalan.[1][2]

Catalan shares features with neighboring Romance languages (Occitan, Italian, Sardinian, French, Spanish).[3] Notable features include:[4]

  • Marked contrast of the vowel pairs /ɛ/ - /e/ and /ɔ/ - /o/, as in other Western Romance languages, except Spanish.[4]
  • Lack of nasalized vowels, unlike Portuguese or French.[4]
  • Lenition of voiced stops [b]→[β], [d]→[ð], [g]→[ɣ] as in Galician and Spanish.[4]
  • Lack of diphthongization of Latin short ĕ, ŏ, as in Galician and Portuguese, and unlike French, Spanish and Italian.[4]
  • Abundance of diphthongs containing /w/, as in Galician and Portuguese.[4]
  • Abundance of /ʎ/ and /ɲ/ occurring at the end of words, as for instance moll (wet) and any (year), unlike Spanish,[5] French or Italian.

In contrast with other Romance languages, Catalan has many monosyllabic words; and those ending in a wide variety consonants and some consonant clusters.[4] Also, Catalan has final obstruent devoicing, thus featuring many couplets like amic ('male friend') vs. amiga ('female friend').[4]


  • Consonants 1
    • Stops 1.1
    • Affricates 1.2
    • Fricatives 1.3
    • Sonorants 1.4
  • Vowels 2
    • Stressed vowels 2.1
    • Unstressed vowels 2.2
    • Diphthongs and triphthongs 2.3
  • Processes 3
    • Assimilations 3.1
  • Prosody 4
    • Stress 4.1
    • Phonotactics 4.2
  • Dialectal variation 5
  • Historical development 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Bibliography 9
  • Further reading 10
  • External links 11


Consonants of Catalan[6]
Labial Dental/
Palatal Velar
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Stop p  b t  d k  ɡ
Affricate ts  dz   
Fricative f  (v) s  z ʃ  ʒ
Tap ɾ
Trill r
Approximant j w
Lateral approximant l ʎ
  • ^1 /t/, /d/ are laminal denti-alveolar [], [].[7][8][9] After /s z/ they are laminal alveolar [], [].[10]
  • ^2 /k/, /ɡ/ are velar,[8][11] but they're fronted to pre-velar position before front vowels.[10] In some Majorcan dialects, the situation is reversed; the main realization is palatal [c], [ɟ],[12] but before liquids and rounded back vowels they are velar [k], [ɡ].[12]
  • ^3 /n/, /l/, /ɾ/ are apical front alveolar [], [], [ɾ̺],[7][8][13] but the first two are laminal denti-alveolar [], [] before /t/, /d/.[10] In addition, /n/ is postalveolar [][10] or alveolo-palatal [ɲ̟][10] before /ʃ/, /ʒ/, /t͡ʃ/, /d͡ʒ/,[10] velar [ŋ] before /k/, /ɡ/ and labiodental [ɱ] before /f/, (/v/), where it merges with /m/. It also merges with /m/ (to [m]) before /p/, /b/.
  • ^4 /s/, /z/, /r/ are apical back alveolar [], [], [],[8][14] also described as postalveolar.[7]
  • ^5 /t͡s/, /d͡z/ are apical alveolar [t͡s̺], [d͡z̺].[15][16] They may be somewhat fronted, so that the stop component is laminal denti-alveolar,[15] while the fricative component is apical post-dental.[15]
  • ^6 /ʎ/, /ɲ/ are laminal "front alveolo-palatal" [ʎ̟], [ɲ̟].[7][8]
  • ^7 There is some confusion in the literature about the precise phonetic characteristics of /ʃ/, /ʒ/, /tʃ/, /dʒ/. some sources[17] generally describe them as "postalveolar." Others[7][18] describe them as "back alveolo-palatal", implying that the characters ɕ ʑ tɕ dʑ would be more accurate. However, in all literature on Catalan, only the characters for palato-alveolar affricates and fricatives are used, even when the same sources use ɕ ʑ for other languages like Polish and Chinese.[19][20][21]
  • Voiced obstruents undergo final-obstruent devoicing so that e.g. fred ('cold', m. s.) is pronounced with [t], while fredes ('cold', f. pl.) is pronounced with [ð].[22]


Voiced stops become lenited to approximants in syllable onsets, after continuants:[12] [b]→[β], [d]→[ð], [g]→[ɣ]. Exceptions include /d/ after lateral consonants and /b/ after /f/, e.g. ull de bou [ˈuʎ də ˈβɔw] ('oeil-de-boeuf'), bolígraf boníssim [buˈɫiɣɾəv buˈnisim] ('excellent ballpoint'). In the coda position, these sounds are always realized as stops,[23] except in some dialects of Valencian, where they are lenited.[24]

In most dialects, /b/ and /ɡ/ may be geminated in certain environments (e.g. poble [ˈpɔbːɫə] 'village', regla [ˈreɡːɫə] 'rule'), apart from Valencian where they are lenited.[25][26]

In Majorcan varieties, /k/ and /ɡ/ become [c] and [ɟ] word-finally and before front vowels,[24] in some of these dialects, this has extended to all environments except before liquids and back vowels; e.g. sang [ˈsaɲc] ('blood').[12]


The phonemic status of affricates is dubious; after other consonants, affricates are in free variation with fricatives, e.g. clenxa [ˈkɫɛɲtʃə] ~ [ˈkɫɛɲʃə] ('hair parting')[27] and may be analyzed as either single phonemes or clusters of a stop and a fricative.

  • Alveolar affricates, [ts] and [dz], occur the least of all affricates.[28]
    • [dz] only occurs intervocalically: metzines [məˈdzinəs] ('toxic substances').[29]
    • Instances of [ts] arise mostly from compounding; the few lexical instances arise from historical compounding.[27] For instance, potser [puˈtse] ('maybe') comes from pot ('may') + ser ('be' inf). As such, [ts] does not occur word-initially; other than some rare words of foreign origin (e.g. tsar 'tsar',[30] tsuga 'tsuga'[31]), but it may occur word-finally and quite often in cases of heteromorphemic (i.e. across a morpheme boundary) plural endings: tots [ˈtots] ('everybody').[28]
  • The distribution of alveolo-palatal affricates, [] and [], depends on dialect:
    • In Standard Eastern Catalan, word-initial [tʃ] is found only in a few words of foreign origin (e.g. txec 'Czech',[32] Txaikovski 'Tchaikovsky') while being found freely intervocalically (e.g. fletxa 'arrow') and word-finally: despatx [dəsˈpatʃ] ('office').
    • Standard Eastern Catalan also only allows [dʒ] in intervocalic position (e.g. metge 'medic', adjunt 'enclosed'). Phonemic analyses show word-final occurrences of /dʒ/ (e.g. raig esbiaixat [ˈradʒ əzβiəˈʃat] 'skew ray'), but final devoicing eliminates this from the surface: raig [ˈratʃ] ('ray').
    • In various other dialects (as well as in emphatic speech),[33] [tʃ] occurs word-initially and after another consonant to the exclusion of [ʃ]. These instances of word-initial [tʃ] seem to correspond to [ʃ] in other dialects, including the standard (on which the orthography is based): xinxa ('bedbug'), pronounced [ˈʃiɲʃə] in the standard, is [ˈtʃiɲtʃə] in these varieties.[29]
    • Similarly, in most of Valencian and southern Catalonia,[28][34] most occurrences of [dʒ] correspond to the voiced fricative [ʒ] in Standard Eastern Catalan: gel [ˈdʒɛɫ] ('ice').

There is dialectal variation in regards to affricate length, with long affricates occurring in both Eastern and Western dialects such as in Majorca and specific Northern and Southern Valencian areas and short affricates being otherwise widespread throughout Valencia.[35] Also, intervocalic affricates are predominately long, especially those that are voiced or occurring immediately after a stressed syllable (e.g. metge [ˈmed.dʒə] 'medic').[36]


/v/ occurs in Balearic,[33] as well as in Alguerese, standard Valencian and some areas in southern Catalonia.[37] Everywhere else, it has merged with /β/.[38] In Majorcan, [v] and [w] are in complementary distribution, with [v] occurring before vowels (e.g. blava [ˈbɫavə] 'blue' f. vs. blau [ˈbɫaw] 'blue' m.). In other varieties that have both sounds, they are in contrast before vowels, with neutralization in favor of [w] before consonants.[39]

In some Valencian dialects, /s/ and /ʃ/ are auditorily similar such that neutralization may occur in the future.[40] That is the case of Northern Valencian where /ʃ/ is depalatalized to [jsʲ] or [js] as in caixa ('box'). Central Valencian words like mig ('half') and lleig ('ugly') have been transcribed with [ts] rather than the expected [tʃ], and Southern Valencian /tʃ/ "has been reported to undergo depalatalization without merging with [ts]".[41] as in passets ('small steps') versus passeig ('promenade')

In Aragon and Central Valencian (the so called apitxat), voiced fricatives and affricates are missing (i.e. /z/ has merged with /s/, /dʒ/ has merged with /tʃ/, with only voiceless realizations occurring) and /v/ has merged with the [b ~ β] set.[42]


While "dark (velarized) l", [ɫ], may be a positional allophone of /l/ in most dialects (such as in the syllable coda; e.g. l [ˈsɔɫ] 'ground'),[43] /l/ is dark irrespective of position in Eastern dialects like Majorcan[44] and standard Eastern Catalan (e.g. tela [ˈtɛɫə]).

The distribution of the two rhotics /r/ and /ɾ/ closely parallels that of Spanish. Between vowels, the two contrast (e.g. mirra [ˈmirə] 'myrrh' vs. mira [ˈmiɾə] 'look'), but they are otherwise in complementary distribution. [ɾ] appears in the onset, except in word-initial position where [r] is used. Different dialects vary in regards to rhotics in the coda with Western Catalan generally featuring [ɾ] and Central Catalan dialects like those of Barcelona or Girona featuring a weakly trilled [r] unless it precedes a vowel-initial word in the same prosodic unit, in which case [ɾ] appears.[45]

In careful speech, /n/, /m/, and /l/ may be geminated (e.g. innecessari [inːəsəˈsaɾi] 'unnecessary'; emmagatzemar [əmːəɣədzəˈma] 'to store'; il·lusió [iɫːuziˈo] 'illusion'). A geminated /ʎʎ/ may also occur (e.g. ratlla [ˈraʎːə] 'line').[33] Wheeler (1979) analyzes intervocalic [r] as the result of gemination of a single rhotic phoneme: sorra /ˈsoɾɾə/ → [ˈsorə] 'sand' (this is similar to the common analysis of Spanish and Portuguese rhotics).[46]


Vowels of Catalan
 Front  Central  Back 
Close i u
Close-mid e (ə) o
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Open a

Phonetic notes:

  • The vowel /a/ is further back and open than the Castilian counterpart in North-Western and Central Catalan, slightly fronted and closed in Valencian and Ribagorçan [ä ~ ɐ], and further fronted and closed [a ~ æ] in Majorcan.[47]
  • The mid-open vowels /ɛ/ and /ɔ/ are lower in Majorcan, Minorcan and Valencian, that is, in these dialects the phonetic realization of /ɛ/ approaches [æ], while /ɔ/ is as low as [ɒ].[10][48][49]
  • In Alguerese, Northern Catalan and some places bordering the Spanish-speaking areas, mid-open and close-mid vowels may merge into mid vowels; [] and [].[50]
  • Northern Catalan may add two loan rounded vowels, [y] and [ø̞], from French and Occitan (e.g. but [ˈbyt] 'aim', fulles [ˈfø̞jəs] 'leaves').[51]
  • In the Barcelona metropolitan area unstressed schwa is lowered to a near-open central vowel [ɐ], sounding closer to but in RP or Californian English.[10][52]
  • Phonetic nasalization occurs for vowels occurring between nasal consonants or when preceding a syllable-final nasal; e.g. diumenge [diwˈmẽɲʒə] ('Sunday').[53]

Stressed vowels

Vowels of Standard Eastern Catalan, from Carbonell & Llisterri (1999:62)

Most varieties of Catalan contrast seven stressed vowel phonemes.[54] However, some Balearic dialects have an additional stressed vowel phoneme (/ə/); e.g. sec /ˈsək/ ('dry').[24] The stressed schwa of these dialects corresponds to /ɛ/ in Central Catalan and /e/ in Western Catalan varieties (that is, Central and Western Catalan dialects differ in their incidence of /e/ and /ɛ/, with /e/ appearing more frequently in Western Catalan; e.g. Central Catalan sec /ˈsɛk/ vs. Western Catalan sec /ˈsek/ 'dry, I sit').[54]

Contrasting series of the main Catalan dialects:

Central Catalan[24]
Vowel word gloss
i /ˈsik/ sic 'sic'
e /ˈsek/ séc 'fold'
ɛ /ˈsɛk/ sec 'dry'
'I sit'
a /ˈsak/ sac 'bag'
o /ˈsok/ sóc 'I am'
ɔ /ˈsɔk/ soc 'clog'
u /ˈsuk/ suc 'juice'
Western Catalan[24]
Vowel word gloss
i /ˈsik/ sic 'sic'
e /ˈsek/ séc
'dry, I sit'
ɛ /ˈsɛt/ set 'seven'
a /ˈsak/ sac 'bag'
o /ˈsok/ sóc 'I am'
ɔ /ˈsɔk/ soc 'clog'
u /ˈsuk/ suc 'juice'
Balearic Catalan[24]
Vowel word gloss
i /ˈsik/ sic 'sic'
e /ˈsek/ séc 'fold'
ɛ /ˈsɛk/ sec 'I sit'
ə /ˈsək/ sec 'dry'
a /ˈsak/ sac 'bag'
o /ˈsok/ sóc 'I am'
ɔ /ˈsɔk/ soc 'clog'
u /ˈsuk/ suc 'juice'

Unstressed vowels

Vowel reduction processes in Eastern and Western Catalan.

In Eastern Catalan, vowels in unstressed position reduce to three : /a/, /e/, /ɛ/ → [ə]; /o/, /ɔ/, /u/ → [u]; /i/ remains unchanged. However there are some dialectal differences: Alguerese merges /a/, /e/, and /ɛ/ with [a]; and in most areas of Majorca, [o] can appear in unstressed position (that is, /o/ and /ɔ/ are usually reduced to [o]).[55]

In Western Catalan, vowels in unstressed position reduce to five: /e/, /ɛ/ → [e]; /o/, /ɔ/ → [o]; /a/, /u/, /i/ remain unchanged.[56] However, in some Western dialects reduced vowels tend to merge into different realizations in some cases:

  • Unstressed /e/ may merge with [a] before a nasal or sibilant consonant (e.g. enclusa [aŋˈkluza] 'anvil', eixam [ajˈʃam] 'swarm'), in some environments before any consonant (e.g. terròs [taˈrɔs] 'earthy'), and in monosyllabic clitics.[57] Likewise, unstressed /e/ may merge into [i] when in contact with palatal consonants (e.g. senyor [siˈɲo(ɾ)] 'lord').[58]
  • Unstressed /o/ may merge with [u] before a bilabial consonant (e.g. cobert [kuˈβɛɾt] 'covered'), before a stressed syllable with a high vowel (e.g. conill [kuˈniʎ] 'rabbit'), in contact with palatal consonants (e.g. Josep [(d)ʒuˈzɛp] 'Joseph'), and in monosyllabic clitics.[59]
Eastern Catalan[24]
Vowel Example Gloss
[i] si [si] 'if'
[ə] se [sə] 'itself'
sa 'her'
[u] -nos [nus] 'us'
uns [uns] 'some'
Western Catalan[24]
Vowel Example gloss
[i] si [si] 'if'
[e] se [se] 'itself'
[a] sa [sa] 'her'
[o] -nos [nos] 'us'
[u] uns [uns] 'some'

Diphthongs and triphthongs

There are also a number of phonetic diphthongs and triphthongs, all of which begin and/or end in [j] or [w].[60]

Falling diphthongs
word gloss word gloss
[aj] aigua 'water' [aw] taula 'table'
[əj] mainada 'children' [əw] caurem 'we will fall'
[ɛj] remei 'remedy' [ɛw] peu 'foot'
[ej] rei 'king' [ew] seu 'his/her'
[iw] niu 'nest'
[ɔj] noi 'boy' [ɔw] nou 'new'
[ow] jou 'yoke'
[uj] avui 'today' [uw] duu 's/he is carrying'
Rising diphthongs
word gloss word gloss
[ja] iaia 'grandma' [wa] guant 'glove'
[jɛ] veiem 'we see' [wɛ] seqüència 'sequence'
[je] seient 'seat' [we] ungüent 'ointment'
[jə] feia 's/he was doing' [wə] qüestió 'question'
[wi] pingüí 'penguin'
[jɔ] iode 'iodine' [wɔ] quota 'payment'
[ju] iogurt 'yoghurt'
word gloss word gloss
[jəw] ieu 'you carried'
[jɛw] creieu 'you believe' [wɛw] liqüeu 'you blend'
[waj] guaita 'he watches'
[wəj] guaitar 'to watch'

In standard Eastern Catalan, rising diphthongs (that is, those starting with [j] or [w]) are only possible in the following contexts:[61]

  • [j] in word-initial position, e.g. iogurt.
  • Both occur between vowels as in feia and veiem.
  • In the sequences [ɡw] or [kw] and vowel, e.g. guant, quota, qüestió, pingüí (these exceptional cases even lead some scholars[62] to hypothesize the existence of rare labiovelar phonemes /ɡʷ/ and /kʷ/).[63]


There are certain instances of compensatory diphthongization in Majorcan so that troncs /ˈtɾoncs/ ('logs') (in addition to deleting the palatal stop) develops a compensating palatal glide and surfaces as [ˈtɾojns] (and contrasts with the unpluralized [ˈtɾoɲc]). Diphthongization compensates for the loss of the palatal stop (segment loss compensation). There are other cases where diphthongization compensates for the loss of point of articulation features (property loss compensation) as in [ˈaɲ] ('year') vs. [ˈajns] ('years').[64]

The dialectal distribution of compensatory diphthongization is almost entirely dependent on the dorsal stop (/k~c/) and the extent of consonant assimilation (whether or not it is extended to palatals).[65]

Voiced affricates are devoiced after stressed vowels in dialects like Eastern Catalan where there may be a correlation between devoicing and lengthening (gemination) of voiced affricates: metge /ˈmeddʒə/[ˈmettʃə] ('medic').[21] In Barcelona, voiced stops may be fortified (geminated and devoiced); e.g. poble [ˈpɔpːɫə] 'village').[33]


Nasal Lateral
word gloss word gloss
ínfim [ˈiɱfim] 'lowest'
anterior [ən̪təɾiˈo] 'previous' altes [ˈaɫ̪təs] 'tall' (f. pl.)
engegar [əɲʒəˈɣa] 'to start (up)' àlgid [ˈaʎʒit] 'decisive'
sang [saŋ(k)] 'blood'
sagna [ˈsaŋnə]~[ˈsaɡnə] 'he bleeds'
cotna [ˈkonːə] 'rind' atles [ˈaɫːəs]~[ˈadɫəs] 'atlas'
sotmetent [sumːəˈten] 'submitting' motlle [ˈmɔʎːə] 'spring, mold'

Catalan denti-alveolar stops can fully assimilate to the following consonant, producing gemination; this is particularly evident before nasal and lateral consonants: e.g. cotna ('rind'), motlle/motle ('spring'), and setmana ('week'). Learned words can alternate between featuring and not featuring such assimilation (e.g. atles [ˈadɫəs]~[ˈaɫːəs] 'atlas', administrar [ədminisˈtɾa]~[əmːinisˈtɾa] 'to administer').[66][67]

Central Valencian features simple elision in many of these cases (e.g cotna [ˈkona], setmana [seˈmana]) though learned words don't exhibit either assimilation or elision: atles [ˈadles] and administrar [adminisˈtɾaɾ].[68]



Stress most often occurs on any of the last three syllables of a word (e.g. brúixola [ˈbɾuʃuɫə] 'compass', càstig [ˈkastik] 'punishment', pallús [pəˈʎus] 'fool').

Compound words and adverbs formed with /ˈment/ may have more than one stressed syllable (e.g. bonament [ˈbɔnəˈmen] 'willingly'; parallamps [ˈpaɾəˈʎams] 'lightning conductor') but every lexical word has just one stressed syllable.[69]


Any consonant, as well as [j] and [w] may be an onset. Clusters may consist of a consonant plus a semivowel (C[j], C[w]) or an obstruent plus a liquid. Some speakers may have one of these obstruent-plus-liquid clusters preceding a semivowel, e.g. síndria [ˈsin.dɾjə] ('watermelon'); for other speakers, this is pronounced [ˈsin.dɾi.ə] (i.e. the semivowel must be syllabic in this context).[70]

Word-medial codas are restricted to one consonant + [s] (extra [ˈɛks.tɾə]).[71] In the coda position, voice contrasts among obstruents are neutralized.[72] Although there are exceptions (such as futur [fuˈtur] 'future'), syllable-final rhotics are often lost before a word boundary or before the plural morpheme of most words: color [kuˈɫo] ('color') vs. coloraina [kuɫuˈɾajnə] ('bright color').[33]

In Central Eastern Catalan, obstruents fail to surface word-finally when preceded by a

  • A proposal for Catalan SAMPA
  • Gramàtica de la llengua catalana (Catalan)
  • Els sons del català (Catalan)
  • L'estàndard oral valencià (Catalan)

External links

  • Recasens, Daniel; Mira, Meritxell (2015), "Place and manner assimilation in Catalan consonant clusters", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 45 (2): 115–147,  

Further reading

  • Badia i Margarit, Antoni Maria (1988), Sons i fonemes de la llengua catalana, Barcelona: Universitat de Barcelona,  
  • Bonet, Eulàlia; Mascaró, Joan (1997), "On the Representation of Contrasting Rhotics", in Martínez-Gil, Fernando; Morales-Front, Alfonso, Issues in the Phonology and Morphology of the Major Iberian Languages, Georgetown University Press, pp. 103–126,  
  • Carbonell, Joan F.; Llisterri, Joaquim (1992), "Catalan", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 22 (1–2): 53–56,  
  • Carbonell, Joan F.; Llisterri, Joaquim (1999), "Catalan", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A Guide to the Usage of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 61–65,  
  • Fabra, Pompeu (2008), Gramàtica catalana (7th ed.), Barcelona: Institut d'Estudis Catalans,  
  • Ferrater; et al. (1973). "Català". Enciclopèdia Catalana Volum 4 (in Catalan) (1977, corrected ed.). Barcelona: Enciclopèdia Catalana, S.A. pp. 628–639.  
  • Grandgent, Charles Hall (1907), "Phonology", An Introduction to Vulgar Latin, D.C. Heath & Co., pp. 60–143,  
  • Herrick, Dylan (2002), "Catalan Phonology: Cluster Simplification and Nasal Place Assimilation", in Wiltshire, Caroline & Camps, Joaquim, Romance Phonology and Variation, Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 69–84,  
  • Harrison, Phil (1997), The Relative Complexity of Catalan Vowels and Their Perceptual Correlates (PDF), UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 9 
  • Hualde, José (1992), Catalan, Routledge,  
  • Lacreu, Josep (2002), Manual d'ús de l'estàndard oral (6th ed.), Valencia: Universitat de València,  
  • Lloret, Maria-Rosa (April 2003), "The Phonological Role of Paradigms: The Case of Insular Catalan", written at Amsterdam & Philadelphia, in Auger, Julie; Clements, J. Clancy; Vance, Barbara, Contemporary Approaches to Romance Linguistics: Selected Papers from the 33rd Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages, Language 83 (2), Bloomington, Indiana: John Benjamins, pp. 275–297,  
  • Mascaró, Joan (1976), Catalan Phonology and the Phonological Cycle (Doctoral thesis), Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
  • Mascaró, Juan (2001), "Compensatory Diphthongization in Majorcan Catalan", in Kreidler, Charles W., Phonology: Critical Concepts in Linguistics, Taylor and Francis, pp. 580–593,  
  • Padgett, Jaye (2003), Systemic Contrast and Catalan Rhotics, University of California, Santa Cruz 
  • Rafel, Joaquim (1981), La lengua catalana fronteriza en el Bajo Aragón meridional. Estudio fonológico, Barcelona: Universitat de Barcelona 
  • Rafel, Joaquim (1999), Aplicació al català dels principis de transcripció de l'Associació Fonètica Internacional (PDF) (3rd ed.), Barcelona: Institut d'Estudis Catalans,  
  • Recasens, Daniel (1993), "Fonètica i Fonologia", Enciclopèdia Catalana 
  • Recasens, Daniel; Fontdevila, Jordi; Pallarès, Maria Dolores (1995), "Velarization Degree and Coarticulatory Resistance for /l/ in Catalan and German", Journal of Phonetics 23 (1): 37–52,  
  • Recasens, Daniel (1996), Fonètica descriptiva del català: assaig de caracterització de la pronúncia del vocalisme i el consonantisme català al segle XX (2nd ed.), Barcelona: Institut d'Estudis Catalans,  
  • Recasens, Daniel; Pallarès, Maria Dolors (2001), De la fonètica a la fonologia: les consonants i assimilacions consonàntiques del català, Barcelona: Editorial Ariel,  
  • Recasens, Daniel; Espinosa, Aina (2005), "Articulatory, positional and coarticulatory characteristics for clear /l/ and dark /l/: evidence from two Catalan dialects", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 35 (1): 1–25,  
  • Recasens, Daniel; Espinosa, Aina (2007), "An Electropalatographic and Acoustic Study of Affricates and Fricatives in Two Catalan Dialects", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 37 (2): 143–172,  
  • Veny, Joan (1989), Els parlars catalans. Síntesi de dialectologia (8th ed.), Mallorca: Editorial Moll,  
  • Veny, Joan (1978), Estudis de geolingüística catalana, Barcelona: Grup 62,  
  • Veny, Joan (2006), Contacte i constrast de llengües i dialectes, Valencia: Biblioteca Lingüística Valenciana,  
  • Veny, Joan (2007), Petit Atles lingüístic del domini català, 1 & 2, Barcelona: Institut d'Estudis Catalans,  
  • Wheeler, Max W. (1979), Phonology Of Catalan, Oxford: Blackwell,  
  • Wheeler, Max W. (2005), The Phonology Of Catalan, Oxford: Oxford University Press,  
  • Wheeler, Max; Yates, Alan; Dols, Nicolau (1999), Catalan: A Comprehensive Grammar (1st ed.), London: Routledge,  


  1. ^ Hualde (1992:367)
  2. ^ For more information on dialectal variety, see Veny (1989).
  3. ^ Wheeler (2005:1)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Enciclopèdia Catalana, p. 630.
  5. ^ Convivència in Catalonia: Languages Living TogetherHall, Jacqueline. , Barcelona: Institut d'Estudis Catalans, 2001, p. 19
  6. ^ Carbonell & Llisterri (1999:62)
  7. ^ a b c d e Recasens & Pallarès (1995:288)
  8. ^ a b c d e Wheeler (2005:10–11)
  9. ^ "Voiceless dental plosive – Central | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiceless dental plosive – Nord Occidental | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiceless dental plosive – Valencià | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced dental plosive – Central | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced dental plosive – Nord Occidental | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced dental plosive – Valencià | Els Sons del Català". 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Rafel (1999:14)
  11. ^ "Voiceless velar plosive – Central | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiceless velar plosive – Nord Occidental | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiceless velar plosive – Valencià | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced Velar Plosive – Central | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced Velar Plosive – Nord Occidental | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced Velar Plosive – Valencià | Els Sons del Català". 
  12. ^ a b c d Wheeler (2005:10)
  13. ^ "Voiced Alveolar Nasal – Central | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced Alveolar Nasal – Nord Occidental | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced Alveolar Nasal – Valencià | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced Alveolar Lateral – Central | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced Alveolar Lateral – Nord Occidental | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced Alveolar Flap – Central | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced Alveolar Flap – Nord Occidental | Els Sons del Català". 
    "VOICED ALVEOLAR FLAP – Valencià | Els Sons del Català". 
  14. ^ "Voiceless Alveolar Fricative – Central | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiceless Alveolar Fricative – Nord Occidental | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiceless Alveolar Fricative – Valencià | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced Alveolar Fricative – Central | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced Alveolar Fricative – Nord Occidental | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced Alveolar Fricative – Valencià | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced Alveolar Trill – Central | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced Alveolar Trill – Nord Occidental | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced Alveolar Trill – Valencià | Els Sons del Català". 
  15. ^ a b c "Voiceless Alveolar Affricate – Central | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiceless Alveolar Affricate – Nord-Occidental | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiceless Alveolar Affricate – Valencià | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced Alveolar Affricate – Central | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced Alveolar Affricate – Nord-Occidental | Els Sons del Català". 
    "Voiced Alveolar Affricate – Valencià | Els Sons del Català". 
  16. ^ Wheeler (2005:11)
  17. ^ Carbonell & Llisterri 1992, p. 53.
  18. ^ Recasens & Espinosa 2007, p. 145.
  19. ^ Recasens (1993). Here Recasens labels these Catalan sounds as "laminoalveolars palatalitzades"
  20. ^ Recasens & Pallarès (2001). Here the authors label these Catalan sounds as "laminal postalveolar"
  21. ^ a b Recasens & Espinosa (2007:145)
  22. ^ Lloret (2003:278)
  23. ^ Hualde (1992:368)
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h Recasens & Espinosa (2005:1)
  25. ^ Carbonell & Llisterri (1992:53–55)
  26. ^ Recasens (1996:190–191)
  27. ^ a b Wheeler (2005:11–12)
  28. ^ a b c Recasens & Espinosa (2007:144)
  29. ^ a b Hualde (1992:370)
  30. ^ Entry for 'tsar' in Diccionari de llengua catalana, Second Edition.
  31. ^ Entry for 'tsuga' in Diccionari de llengua catalana, Second Edition.
  32. ^ Entry for 'txec' in Diccionari de llengua catalana, Second Edition.
  33. ^ a b c d e Carbonell & Llisterri (1992:53)
  34. ^ Wheeler (2005:13–14)
  35. ^ Recasens & Espinosa (2007:148–149)
  36. ^ Wheeler (2005:12)
  37. ^ Veny (2007:51)
  38. ^ Wheeler (2005:13)
  39. ^ Wheeler (2002:81)
  40. ^ Rafel (1981), cited in Recasens & Espinosa (2007:147)
  41. ^ Recasens & Espinosa (2007:147)
  42. ^ Wheeler (2005:23)
  43. ^ a b Recasens & Espinosa (2005:20)
  44. ^ Recasens & Espinosa (2005:3)
  45. ^ Padgett (2003:2)
  46. ^ See Bonet & Mascaró (1997) for more information
  47. ^ Recasens (1996:90–92)
  48. ^ Recasens (1996:81)
  49. ^ Recasens (1996:130–131)
  50. ^ Recasens (1996:59)
  51. ^ Recasens (1996:69, 80–81)
  52. ^ Harrison (1997:2)
  53. ^ Recasens (1996:70)
  54. ^ a b Wheeler (2005:38)
  55. ^ Wheeler (2005:54)
  56. ^ Carbonell & Llisterri (1992:54–55)
  57. ^ Recasens (1996:75–76)
  58. ^ Recasens (1996:128–129)
  59. ^ Recasens (1996:138)
  60. ^ Carbonell & Llisterri (1992:54)
  61. ^ Institut d'Estudis Catalans Els diftongs, els triftongs i els hiats – Gramàtica de la Llengua Catalana (provisional draft)
  62. ^ e.g. Lleó (1970), Wheeler (1979)
  63. ^ Wheeler (2005:101)
  64. ^ Mascaró (2002:580–581)
  65. ^ Mascaró (2002:581)
  66. ^ Fabra (2008:24)
  67. ^ Lacreu (2002:53)
  68. ^ Wheeler (2005:36)
  69. ^ Carbonell & Llisterri (1999:63)
  70. ^ Wheeler (2005:78)
  71. ^ Wheeler (2005:166)
  72. ^ Wheeler (2005:145)
  73. ^ Herrick (2002:70)
  74. ^ Herrick (2002:72)
  75. ^ Recasens (1996:192)
  76. ^ Recasens (1996:175)
  77. ^ Badia (1988:35)
  78. ^ Recasens, Daniel (1991), "An Electropalatographic and Acoustic Study of Consonant-to-Vowel Coarticulation", Journal of Phonetics 19: 267–280. 
  79. ^ Wheeler (2005:81)
  80. ^ Recasens (1996:99)
  81. ^ Recasens (1996:131–132)
  82. ^ Recasens (1996:138–139)
  83. ^ Recasens (1996:311–312)
  84. ^ Recasens (1994:266)
  85. ^ Recasens (1994:321)
  86. ^ Recasens (1996:307)
  87. ^ Wheeler (2005:34–35)
  88. ^ Wheeler (2005:22–23)
  89. ^ Wheeler (2005:15)
  90. ^ Wheeler (2005:22)
  91. ^ Recasens (1996:91–92)
  92. ^ Wheeler (2005:24)


See also

Historical development

  • Vowel harmony with /ɔ/ and /ɛ/ in Southern Valencian; this process is progressive (i.e. preceding vowels affect those pronounced afterwards) over the last unstressed vowel of a word; e.g. hora /ˈɔɾa/[ˈɔɾɔ]. However, there are cases where regressive metaphony occurs over pretonic vowels; e.g. tovallola /tovaˈʎɔla/[tɔvɔˈʎɔlɔ] ('towel'), afecta /aˈfɛkta/[ɛˈfɛktɛ] ('affects').[80]
  • In Southern Valencian subvarieties, especially in Alicante Valencian, the diphthong /ɔu/ (phonetically [ɒw] in Valencian) has become [ɑw]: bous [ˈbɑws] ('bulls').[81]
  • In regular speech in both, Eastern and Western Catalan dialects, word-initial unstressed /o/[u] or [o]– may be diphthongized to [əw] (Eastern Catalan) or [aw] (Western Catalan): ofegar [əwfəˈɣa]~[awfeˈɣa(ɾ)] ('to drown, suffocate').[82]
  • In Aragonese Catalan (including Ribagorçan), /l/ is palatalized to [ʎ] in consonant clusters; e.g. plou [ˈpʎɔw] 'it rains'.[83]
  • In Alguerese and Ribagorçan word-final /ʎ/ and /ɲ/ are depalatized to [l] and [n], respectively; e.g. gall [ˈɡal] ('rooster'), any [ˈan] ('year').[84][85]
  • Varying degrees of L-velarization among dialects: /l/ is dark irrespective of position in Balearic and Central Catalan and might tend to vocalization in some cases. In Western varieties like Valencian, this dark l contrasts with a clear l in intervocalic and word-initial position; while in other dialects, like Alguerese or Northern Catalan, /l/ is never velarized in any instance.[43][86]
  • Iodització (also known as iesme històric "historic yeísmo") in regular speech in most of Majorcan, Northern Catalan and in the historic comarca of Vallès (Barcelona): /ʎ/ merges with [j] in some Latin derived words with intervocalic L-palatalization (intervocalic /l/ + yod (-LI-, -LE-), -LL-, -CVL-, and -GVL-); e.g. palla [ˈpajə] ('straw'). An exception to this rule is initial L-palatalization; e.g. lluna [ˈʎunə] ('moon').[87]
  • The dorso-palatal [ʝ] may occur in complementary distribution with [ɟ], only in Majorcan varieties that have dorso-palatals rather than the velars found in most dialects: guerra [ˈɟɛrə] ('war') vs. sa guerra [sə ˈʝɛrə] ('the war').[88]
  • In northern and transitional Valencian, word-initial and postconsonantal /dʒ/ (Eastern Catalan /ʒ/ and /dʒ ~ ʒ/) alternates with [(j)ʒ] intervocalically; e.g. joc [ˈdʒɔk] 'game', but pitjor [piˈʒo] 'worse', boja [ˈbɔjʒa] 'crazy' (standard Valencian /ˈdʒɔk/, /piˈdʒoɾ/; /ˈbɔdʒa/; standard Catalan /ˈʒɔk/, /piˈdʒo/ and /ˈbɔʒə/).[89]
  • In northern Valencia and southern Catalonia /s/ has merged with realizations of /ʃ/ after a high front vocoid; e.g. terrissa [teˈriʃa] ('pottery'), insistisc [insiʃˈtiʃk] ('I insist') vs. pixar [piˈʃa(ɾ)] ('to pee'), deixar [dejˈʃa(ɾ)] ('to leave'). In these varieties /ʃ/ is not found after other vocoids, and merges with /tʃ/ after consonants; e.g. punxa [ˈpuɲtʃa] ('thorn').[90]
  • Intervocalic /d/ dropping (particularly participles) in regular speech in Valencian, with compensatory lengthening of vowel /a/; e.g. vesprada [vesˈpɾaː] ('evening').[91]
  • In northern Catalonia and in the town of Sóller (Majorca), a uvular trill [ʀ] or approximant [ʁ] can be heard instead of an alveolar trill; e.g. rrer [ˈkoʀə]~[ˈkoʁə] ('to run').[92]

Other dialectal features are:

Regarding consonants, betacism and fricative–affricate alternations are the most prominent differences between dialects.

The differences in the vocalic systems outlined above are the main criteria used to differentiate between the major dialects: Wheeler (2005) distinguishes two major dialect groups, western and eastern dialects; the latter of which only allow [i], [ə], and [u] to appear in unstressed syllables and include Northern Catalan, Central Catalan, Balearic, and Alguerese. Western dialects, which allow any vowel in unstressed syllables, include Valencian and North-Western Catalan.

Dialectal Map of Catalan from Wheeler, Yates & Dols (1999:xviii)
Eastern dialects:
  North Catalan
Western dialects:

Dialectal variation

In Majorcan and Minorcan Catalan, /f/ undergoes total assimilation to a following consonant (just as stops do): buf gros [ˈbuɡ ˈɡɾɔs] ('large puff').[79]

Word-final fricatives (except /f/) are voiced before a following vowel; e.g. bus enorme [ˈbuz əˈnormə] ('huge bus').[78]

Word-final obstruents are devoiced, however they assimilate voicing of the following consonant; e.g. cuc de seda [ˈkuɡ də ˈsɛðə] ('silkworm'). In regular and fast speech, stops often assimilate the place of articulation of the following consonant producing gemination: tot [ˈtod ˈbe] → [ˈtob ˈbe] ('all good').[77]

Word-initial clusters from Graeco-Latin learned words tend to drop the first phoneme: pneumàtic [nəwˈmatik] ('pneumatic'), pseudònim [səwˈðɔnim] ('pseudonym'), pterodàctil [təɾuˈðaktiɫ] ('pterodactylus'), gnom [ˈnom] ('gnome').[76]

When the suffix -erol [əˈɾɔɫ] is added to camp [ˈkam] it makes [kəmpəˈɾɔɫ], indicating that the underlying representation is |ˈkamp| (with subsequent cluster simplification), however when the copula [ˈes] is added it makes [ˈkam ˈes]. The resulting generalization is that this underlying /p/ will only surface in a morphologically complex word.[74] Despite this, word-final codas are not usually simplified in most of Balearic and Valencian (e.g. camp [ˈkamp]).[75]

Suffixation examples
Final gloss Internal gloss
no cluster camp [ˈkam] 'field' camperol [kəmpəˈɾɔɫ] 'peasant'
punt [ˈpun] 'point' punta [ˈpuntə] 'tip'
banc [ˈbaŋ] 'bank' banca [ˈbaŋkə] 'banking'
malalt [məˈɫaɫ] 'ill' malaltia [məɫəɫˈti.ə] 'illness'
hort [ˈɔr] 'orchard' hortalissa [urtəˈɫisə] 'vegetable'
gust [ˈɡus] 'taste' gustar [ɡusˈta] 'to taste'
cluster serp [ˈserp] 'snake' serpentí [sərpənˈti] 'snake-like'
disc [ˈdisk] 'disk' disquet [disˈkɛt] 'diskette'
remolc [rəˈmɔɫk] 'trailer' remolcar [rəmuɫˈka] 'to tow'

[73]). Complex codas simplify only if the loss of the segment doesn't result in the loss of place specification./nt/ → [n]

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