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Old Catalan was the
Old Catalan, classified as an Occitano Romance variety, is grouped with Old Occitan or Provençal.
It is believed that Old Catalan had two lateral palatal phonemes. The first,/ʎ/, was written as ⟨ll⟩ and has remained unchanged until recently. The second, reconstructed as /jl/, came from the Latin groups C'L, G'L, LE, and LI; it was written as ⟨yl⟩ and ⟨il⟩. /jl/ never appeared in initial position. This second phoneme has either merged into /ʎ/ in most dialects but into /j/ in a few dialects.
Around the 12th century, word-initial /l/ became /ʎ/, even though it continued to be spelled as ⟨l⟩ until the 15th century.
/v/ began to merge into /b/ in some dialects around the 14th century, a process called
The system features a modification of the original Proto-Romance /e/ and /ɛ/. First, /e/ was centralized to /ə/, and then /ɛ/ was raised to /e/. In Modern Central Catalan, stressed /ə/ has been fronted to /ɛ/, thus partially inverting the original Proto-Romance distribution still found in Italian and Portuguese. Balearic varieties still keep stressed /ə/.
It is assumed that during the preliterary period all the Catalan dialects featured a weak realization of the pretonic vowels. Around the 13th century, pretonic /a/ and /e/ began to be confused in writing in the Eastern dialects. In these dialects, the confusion would be spread to all unstressed instances of /a/ and /e/, a process that was almost complete by the 15th century.
Final post-tonic /e, o/ were devoiced[