The Catalan Language is a Romance language spoken in eastern and north-eastern Spain and the Balearic Islands. Beyond that it is also spoken in Andorra, where it is the official language, a region in France (Roussillon Area) and in the Sardinian city of Alghero. This adds up to a number of 9.2 million people who speak Catalan.
In modern Catalan there are two main dialects, which divide into several subdialects. The western dialects include West Catalan and Valencian, and the eastern dialects include Eastern Catalan, Balearic, Roussillonnais and the dialect spoken in Alghero. The languages Catalan is most closely related to are Spanish and the Occitan language of southern France. Many people believe that Catalan is a dialect of the Spanish language, but it is actually a language on its own that derived from the Vulgar Latin that was spoken by the Romans, who colonised the Tarragona area.
The language uses the Latin alphabet. Unlike Spanish, it shows a lack of rising diphthongs (like ie and ue) and an abundance of falling diphthongs (like eu, au and ou). Another difference is the retainment of the sounds j (pronounced like the French j), tj, tz and x (pronounced like sh). Also, instead of stressing certain verbs on the infinitive ending, in Catalan they are stressed on the root.