The legal framework of the Catalan language varies according to the region. Andorra, Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, Valencia, Northern Catalonia, La Franja and Alghero have varying degrees of legal recognition, ranging from Catalan being the only official language (Andorra) to not being official at all (Northern Catalonia, La Franja and Alghero) with Catalan and Spanish having co-official status in Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands.
The official language of Catalonia is Catalan, although Spanish is also an official language, as it is the official language of Spain. The Occitan language, known as Aranese in Aran, is the language of this region and is also official in Catalonia. Finally, Catalan sign language has been given explicit official recognition.
In accordance with Article 2.1 of the Andorran Constitution of 1993, Catalan is the country’s only official language. The Law regulating the use of the official language, enacted in 2000, implements the provisions of the Constitution.
The Balearic Islands
The official language of the Balearic Islands is Catalan, a language that everyone has the right to know and use. Spanish is also official. Institutions guarantee the normal and official use of both languages and establish conditions for the full equality of the two languages to be effective.
The official language is Valencian, the name used for Catalan in this region. Spanish is also official because it is an official language throughout Spain. Everyone has the right to know and use both languages and to receive education in Valencian. The law envisages special protection and respect for the recovery of Valencian. It also identifies the areas in which the use of one language or the other predominates, specifying those that may be exempt from teaching and using Valencian.
French language legislation is specified in Article 2 of the Constitution, which states that the language of the Republic is French. However, over the years there has been a faint recognition of regional languages, such as Catalan. Thus, in areas such as education, there has been the possibility of slowly introducing the teaching of Catalan. Although in 2008 the Constitution incorporated the precept that regional languages belong to the heritage of France, the French legislature has refused (2015) to ratify the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and has refused (2016) to approve the Law on regional languages, a text which called for the teaching, public use and presence in the media of non-official languages in France, including Catalan. The primacy of French in public life is thus absolute.
The Law passed in 2013 by the Aragonese Corts, on the use, protection and promotion of the languages and language varieties found in Aragon, states that it aims to recognise the linguistic diversity of this region and guarantee the right of the Aragonese to use their own languages and language varieties. It also states that it seeks to promote the conservation, recovery, promotion, teaching and dissemination of the languages and language varieties of Aragon in the areas where their use was historically predominant. The current law replaced another passed in 2009, which mentioned Catalan and Aragonese as languages native to Aragon, a concept that the new Aragon Corts reaffirmed in 2016.
The Italian Constitution provides for the protection of linguistic minorities. The 1997 regional law on the development and promotion of the culture and language of Sardinia deals with both Sardinian and Catalan in the city of Alghero. In 1999, Catalan was again mentioned in the state law regulating the protection of linguistic minorities.