"A conservative estimate of the number of native speakers of Catalan is about 6.5 million [...]. Within Spain a further 3 million claim to understand Catalan."
[Glanville Price', Encyclopedia of the Languages of Europe (Blackwell 1998)]
These figures show that Catalan cannot be called a minor language. Only political persecution and the fact that Catalonia is not an independent country may explain why Catalan is so unknown.
Here are some figures which could help in understanding the relative importance of Catalan as an European language.
- 14% of all books published in Spain are written in Catalan.
- Catalan has more speakers than any of these European languages: Danish, Slovak, Lithuanian, Latvian, Slovene, Estonian.
- The percentage of Catalan speakers in Spain is close to the percentage of French speakers in Canada or French speakers in Switzerland.
"It is difficult to point to any language in Europe which has not become the official language of a nation-state which is as strongly placed as Catalan today."
[The Romance Languages, Martin Harris and Nigel Vincent (eds.) (Croom Helm, 1988)]