Valencian is also spoken in small numbers (less than 500 people) in el Carxe, a sparsely populated rural area in the Region de Murcia adjoining the Valencian Community. Valencian does not have any official recognition in this area.
According to a survey conducted by the Generalitat Valenciana in June 2005, approximately 94% of the Valencian population could understand it, 78% could speak and read it, and around 50% could write it.
A study published by the Generalitat Valenciana (Servei d’Investigació i Estudis Sociolinguístics) in October 2005 revealed that most Valencians do not usually speak in Valencian. According to the study, which sampled more than 6,600 people in the provinces of Castellon, Valencia, and Alicante, 39.5 percent of residents use the Valencian language at home, while 33 percent speak Valencian with their friends and just 18.8 percent speak Valencian in large department stores.
According to a 2008 survey, there is a downward trend of everyday Valencian users. Currently, 52.5% of the Valencian population can speak Valencian. The lowest numbers are at the major cities of Valencia and Alicante, where the number of everyday speakers are in the single digits. All in all, in the 1993-2006 period, the number of speakers is 10 points down. One of the factors cited is the population increase based in citizens from other countries, who tend to favour using Spanish over local languages; accordingly, the number of residents who claim no understanding of Valencian had a sharp increase.
Valencian is not spoken all over the Valencian Community. Roughly 25% of its territory (its inland part and areas in the extreme south as well) is traditionally Spanish-speaking only, whereas Valencian is spoken in various grades elsewhere.
Specifically, Valencian is the most distinctive and established Western variety, with a sound written tradition which started as early as the 15th century. It can be then distinguished from the other major standard, the "Catalan of Barcelona" or Central Catalan group of varieties.
However some in Valencia, refusing the academic consensus, use Valencian (especially llengua valenciana, "Valencian language") to refer to this variety as if it were different from the Catalan language as a whole.
Valencian would serve as an ausbau language (to use linguistics parlance) within the wider Catalan domain, in that its rules are established by an autonomous language academy (the Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua) and given the fact that it shows a slightly different standard.
There is a roughly continuous set of dialects covering the various regional forms of Catalan/Valencian, with no break at the border between Catalonia and the Valencian Community (i.e. villages contiguous to both sides of the border speak exactly the same), and the various forms of Catalan language, among them, the Valencian ones, are basically mutually intelligible. This is so even though often only educated speakers may have real comprehensive linguistic competence, like it is the case when the most divergent Eastern dialects such as the one from Alghero or from the Balearics are confronted to Valencian.
Academics almost universally believe that Valencian has its origin in the Catalan that was brought to the territories that became the Kingdom of Valencia during the Reconquesta (in Spanish, Reconquista). While Castile moved south conquering New Castile and Andalusia, Aragonese and Catalan settlers from the Crown of Aragon conquered and populated Valencia. Generally speaking it has been assumed that most of these settlers in what nowadays are Valencian-speaking areas came from South-Western Catalonia, and that would explain that the current Catalan-proper dialect spoken in that area shares fundamental traits with Valencian itself (the Aragonese settled the inland part of the territory, carrying with them the Aragonese and Castilian languages).
The Aragonese professor Antonio Ubieto Arteta in his book Origenes del Reino de Valencia, which is based on the numbers from El llibre dels repartiments (a book by James I the Conqueror which serves as the official account of the Reconquesta) challenged this view, claiming that the percentage of immigration from Catalonia is only 5% of the total immigration, during the conquest and the subsequent XIV and XV centuries. The population of Valencia remained 70% Mozarabic and Moorish, 11% originating from the rest of Castile, 10% from the Crown of Aragon, and 7% from foreign countries.
His claims have not been supported by anyone else in the mainstream academic world. On the contrary, further modern research such as by Valencian Medieval History professor Enric Guinot has even raised the immigrating population to more than 90% in certain areas. This divergence is based on a difference of methodology. While Ubieta focuses on the origins of the nobles who owned new lands, Guinot reads the towns' tax list in order to find the origin of the surnames of the new neighbors. In this way, Guinot claims an 80% new-Catalan population in Puçol and a 12% one in Segorbe (nowadays, Valencian is spoken in Puçol, whereas Spanish is used in Segorbe).
That notwithstanding, there are examples of language change without involving a large scale population movement, notably in South America (where indigenous languages were replaced by Spanish with little inward migration) as well as Ireland, Wales, and Scotland (where indigenous languages were similarly replaced by English within the space of few generations).
The issue of Valencian filiation is the product of hundreds of years of political evolution, throughout which the former Kingdom of Valencia and the former Principality of Catalonia developed in quite different ways. Individual Valencians have both embraced and rejected a Catalan background, and, accordingly, both regions have often been in conflict. Given this historic background, it is perhaps not surprising that a linguistic turf war erupted over the status of the dialect spoken in Valencia. The different background and evolution of local elites in Valencia and Barcelona fueled a sense of city rivalry, particularly present in the former. The absence of this perceived rivalry elsewhere in other Catalan speaking areas would explain that the speakers of more divergent dialects like Balearic Catalan or Algherese have not challenged their Catalan filiation (or done so to a much lesser degree, in the Balearic case).
The current official definition, according to the Spanish and Valencian governments, is somewhat unclear. The Valencian Statute of Autonomy refers to the Valencian language as valencià (Valencian) and could be interpreted as saying that Valencian is a language in its own right. Also, the university master degree is called Filologia Valenciana rather than Filologia Catalana as elsewhere. But the Academia Valenciana de la Llengua (AVL) —an official and state-bound entity created to regulate Valencian orthography— does state that Catalan and Valencian are the same language, and the standard taught by public educative institutions such as schools or universities does follow the AVL rules. Moreover, language certificates issued by public entities of all three Autonomous Communities (Valencian Community, Catalonia, and the Balearic Islands) are mutually endorsed.
In May 2006, the Spanish Supreme Court revoked the instruction ordered by the Valencian Education Department in 1995, which had established that validation of Catalan language qualifications issued by either the Catalan or Balearic autonomous governments no longer applied in the Valencian Community..
All in all, the AVL does set a separate written official standard for Valencian, and this is accepted as valid by the academic world since the two written standards are completely mutually inteligible and the AVL works together with the Institut d'Estudis Catalans, which sets the orthographic standard for the rest of the language.
Rejecting the current situation, there is a series of civil society private associations, specially within the Valencia province, from which the most influential is Lo Rat Penat. These associations campaign for Valencian as a separate language with a different written norm and have supported attempts by local mainly right-wing politicians to split Valencian and Catalan norms apart. Their theories have not been supported in academic circles outside their own.
On August 10, 2007, in reply to a blaverist demand, a different SIL code for val as different from ca was rejected by the International Organization for Standardization, with the reasoning that "language identifiers are not language abbreviations". However, for those aiming to make clear the variant used a proper subtag exists, ca-valencia, which was refused as well by the plaintiffs.
See also Language secessionism
There is a current among some Valencians known as blaverism which claims that Valencian is an independent language from Catalan. These theories are usually supported by politicians rather than linguists. They are mostly based on disputing the origin of the language in Valencia.
One of the most widespread theories associated to this view maintains that Valencian primarily evolved from Mozarabic, the Romance language spoken by local inhabitants after the Muslim conquest of what subsequently became Al-Andalus. Later on, this language would have acquired words from either Catalan (which would explain, in the eyes of supporters of this alternative theory, the undeniable resemblance to Catalan), Occitan, Aragonese or Castilian until the present day. This theory does not seem to be supported by the slight evidence we have of Mozarabic, such as some toponyms. Also, it is handicapped by the fact that only a handful of texts in Mozarabic -a heavily fragmented language itself, with a very scant written tradition- have remained to date, which makes virtually impossible the task of confronting this language with the Romance languages which came next.
An alternative theory proposes that Valencian, alongside Catalan, originated directly from Old Occitan. This would have arrived in Valencia with the court of the conqueror King James I of Aragon, since he was born in Montpellier (Occitania) and this was also the language in vogue among troubadours. In this regard, it must be noted that at the time of the Reconquest of Valencia, Catalan and Occitan, which lacked a clearly standardised version as all languages by the middle age, were often assimilated as a single language (or the same family of dialects), under the common name of Lemosin or Provençal which shared a single poetic tradition, even though, when spoken, they were different; Catalan troubadours knew they weren't writing the same as they spoke; and there are texts previous to James I, such as the Homilies d'Organyà, which are clearly Catalan as opposed to Occitan.
Supporters of these theories criticise the current Valencian standard promulgated by the Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua because such supporters regard the Valencian Standard as some kind of hybrid with a theoretically distinct Catalan.
Many Catalan politicians, in turn, argue that the right wing is using this issue to portray Catalans as linguistic imperialists, in order to garner support in the rest of Spain for the centralist position of the Spanish right wing. They often refer to the fact that many of the most ardent defenders of Valencian's linguistic individuality often are not able to speak the language themselves.
The latest political controversy regarding Valencian occurred on the occasion of the approval of the European Constitution in 2004. The Spanish government supplied the EU with translations of the text into Basque, Catalan, Galician, and Valencian, but the Catalan and Valencian versions were identical. While professing the unity of the Catalan language, the Spanish government claimed to be constitutionally bound to produce distinct Catalan and Valencian versions because the Statute of the Autonomous Community of Valencia calls the regional language "Valencian", while those of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands call the regional language "Catalan" (even though in the Balearic Islands, the language is also often called "mallorquí", "menorquí", "eivissenc", or "formenterer" depending on the island — Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza, or Formentera, something that, nonetheless, does not imply major linguistic differences.)
Some other features, such as the use of molt de or the lack of hom or geminate l, are often given as examples of differences between Valencian varieties and other forms of the language. However, these are actually differences between colloquial and literary language, and, again, may not apply to specific sub-dialects. In fact, northern and southern variants of Valencian share more features with Eastern Catalan than with central Valencian. For this reason some of the features listed previously do not apply to them.