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Languages of Spain

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Languages of Spain
OfficialSpanish (country-wide); Catalan/Valencian, Galician, Basque and Occitan (selected territories)
RegionalAmazigh, Ceutan Arabic, Aragonese, Aranese, Asturleonese, Basque, Catalan, Galician.[1]
ImmigrantPortuguese, Romanian, Quechua, English, German, French, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Russian, Wolof, Punjabi,[2] Hindu–Urdu, Wu dialects (Qingtian & Wenzhounese)[3]
(see immigration to Spain)
SignedSpanish Sign Language
Catalan Sign Language
Valencian Sign Language
Keyboard layout

The majority of languages of Spain[4] belong to the Romance language family, of which Spanish is the sole one with official status as the national language.[5][6] Others, including Catalan/Valencian (in Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands) and Galician (in Galicia), enjoy official status in their respective autonomous regions, similar to Basque in the northeast of the country (a non-Romance language isolate). A number of other languages and dialects belonging to the Romance continuum exist in Spain, such as Aragonese, Asturian, Fala and Occitan (sometimes called Provençal).

Present-day languages

  Spanish, official; spoken throughout the country
  Catalan / Valencian, co-official
  Basque, co-official
  Galician, co-official
  Occitan, co-official
  Asturleonese (Asturian and Leonese), protected language
  Aragonese, protected language

The languages spoken in Spain include:

Other Romance varieties

Spanish itself boasts a substantial internal variation in the country. For example, the Andalusian or Canarian dialects, each with their own subvarieties, some of them being partially closer to the Spanish of the Americas, which they heavily influenced to varying degrees, depending on the region or period and according to different and non-homogeneous migrating or colonisation processes. Despite being a dialect, some Andalusian speakers have attempted to promote Andalusian as a different language independent of Spanish.

Five very localised dialects are of difficult filiation: Fala (a variety mostly ascribed to the Galician-Portuguese group locally spoken in an area of the province of Cáceres sometimes called Valley of Jálama/Xálima, which includes the towns of San Martín de Trevejo, Eljas and Valverde del Fresno); Cantabrian and Extremaduran, two Astur-Leonese dialects also regarded as Spanish dialects; Eonavian, a dialect between Asturian and Galician, closer to the latter according to several linguists; and Benasquese, a Ribagorçan dialect that was formerly classified as Catalan, later as Aragonese, and which is now often regarded as a transitional language of its own. Asturian and Leonese are closely related to the local Mirandese which is spoken on an adjacent territory but over the border into Portugal. Mirandese is recognised and has some local official status.


Top language spoken at home (Pew Research survey, 2019)[17]

  Spanish (81%)
  Catalan (8%)
  Valencian (4%)
  Galician (3%)
  Basque (1%)

In terms of the number of speakers and dominance, the most prominent of the languages of Spain is Spanish, spoken by about 99% of Spaniards as a first or second language.[18] According to a 2019 Pew Research survey, the most commonly spoken languages at home other than Spanish were Catalan in 8% of households, Valencian in 4%, Galician in 3% and Basque in 1%.[17] A study in 2016 by the University of Navarra focused on which languages were used most frequently to consume news within a week (using multiple-choice surveys). The response included foreign languages, Spanish and only co-official and protected languages. 95.2% of news was consumed in Spanish and 30.4% in a co-official or protected language.[19]

Language Language of news consumption in the last week (%)[19]
Spanish 95.2
English 23.9
Catalan/Valencian 21.6
French 7.2
Galician 5.5
Basque 2.6
Portuguese 2.0
German 1.9
Asturian/Leonese 0.9
Romanian 0.7
Aragonese 0.6
Arabic 0.3
Aranese 0.3
Other foreign language 2.0
Other regional language 1.0

The study reflects that the consumption of protected languages is proportional to their knowledge and that the consumption of foreign-language news is greater than that of regional-language news.

Language policy

Spanish is official throughout the country; Catalan/Valencian, Galician, Basque, and Occitan have legal and co-official status in their respective communities and (except Occitan) are widespread enough to have daily newspapers and significant book publishing and media presence. Catalan and Galician are the main languages used by the respective regional governments and local administrations. Starting in 2023, members of the lower house of the Spanish Parliament were allowed to use Basque, Catalan and Galician in their interventions.[20] Members of the upper house already could use those languages in some specific discussions and initiatives.[21]

In addition to these, there are some protected languages. A protected language does not have co-official status but can be taught in schools as an optional subject, with the possibility of having TV shows in the protected language as well as institutions for that language.

Limited Asturian-language broadcasting is available on RTPA, and the language is learned as an optional subject by 53% of primary education students.[22] There is a prominent movement demanding for the declaration of Asturian as an official language in Asturias, which is a matter of an ongoing political debate.[23][24]

As of 2023, Aragonese is offered as a subject in about 30 schools in the Aragon region, with around 1,300 students.[25] Limited Aragonese-language television content is available on the regional public broadcaster, with shows such as A Escampar la Boira[26] or Charrín Charrán.[27]

Past languages

Alongside the languages spoken in Spain to the present day, other languages were spoken within the actual borders:

Distribution (assumed) of languages in the Iberian peninsula between 1000~2000 C.E.

Languages mostly spoken outside Spain but which had roots in Spain:


There are also variants of these languages proper to Spain, either dialect, cants or pidgins:

See also


  1. ^ a b Brohy, Claudine; Climent-Ferrando, Vincent; Oszmiahska-Pagett, Aleksandra; Ramallo, Fernando (2019). "Carta europea de lenguas minoritarias". Consejo de Europa.
  2. ^ Solé Aubia, Montserrat; Rodríguez Roca, Josep (2005). "Pakistaníes en España: un estudio basado en el colectivo de la ciudad de Barcelona". Barcelona Centre for International Affairs. p. 108.
  3. ^ Martínez Robles, David (2007). La lengua china: historia, signo y contexto: Una aproximación sociocultural. Córdoba: Editorial UOC. p. 62. ISBN 978-84-9788-682-6.
  4. ^ The term lenguas españolas appears in the Spanish Constitution, referring to all the languages spoken within Spain (those are Basque, Spanish, Catalan/Valencian, Galician, Asturian, Leonese, etc.).
  5. ^ Promotora Española de Lingüística - Lengua Española o Castellana Archived 27 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine. (Spanish)
  6. ^ M. Teresa Turell (2001). Multilingualism in Spain: Sociolinguistic and Psycholinguistic Aspects of Linguistic Minority Groups. Multilingual Matters. p. 121. ISBN 978-1-85359-491-5.

    It is a fact that there are in Spain two equally legal names for designating this language: Valencian, as established by the Statute of Autonomy of the Valencian Community, and Catalan, recognized in the Statutes of Autonomy of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, and ratified by the Spanish legal system (annex 8) and case law (annex 9).

  8. ^ "Ley Orgánica 1/2006, de 10 de abril, de Reforma de la Ley Orgánica 5/1982, de 1 de julio, de Estatuto de Autonomía de la Comunidad Valenciana" (PDF). Generalitat Valenciana. 10 April 2006. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  9. ^ (in Catalan and Occitan) Llei 35/2010, d'1 d'octubre, de l'occità, aranès a l'Aran
  10. ^ Hernández, Alicia (24 January 2022). "Dónde se habla el bable y por qué dicen que es un idioma "en peligro"".
  11. ^ 20minutos (22 February 2023). "Esta lengua solo se habla en tres localidades extremeñas y está en peligro de extinción". - Últimas Noticias (in Spanish). Retrieved 14 May 2023.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ "UNESCO - El Silbo Gomero, lenguaje silbado de la isla de La Gomera (Islas Canarias)". (in Spanish). Retrieved 14 May 2023.
  13. ^ Carrasco González, Juan M. (2017). "Documentación antigua sobre las localidades de habla portuguesa Herrera de Alcántara y Cedillo" (PDF). Revista de Estudios Extremeños. LXXIII (3): 2567–2592.
  14. ^ González Salgado, José Antonio (2019). "El proyecto de investigación FRONTESPO y la fala de Xálima" (PDF). Limite (13): 82. ISSN 1888-4067.
  15. ^ "Protección del dariya: el Gobierno responde que el Estatuto de Autonomía no menciona esta lengua".
  16. ^ "Compromís exige que el tamazight se iguale a otras lenguas del Estado".
  17. ^ a b Devlin, Kat (6 January 2020). "Speaking the national language at home is less common in some European countries". Pew Research. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  18. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2010. Retrieved 15 January 2016.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ a b "Un 30% se informa en lenguas españolas distintas del castellano, y el 24% de los usuarios, en inglés | Digital News Report España 2022 (DNR): informe de noticias digitales en español" (in Spanish). Retrieved 14 May 2023.
  20. ^ Jones, Sam (19 September 2023). "Spain grants Basque, Catalan and Galician languages parliamentary status". Spain. The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. ISSN 1756-3224. OCLC 60623878. Retrieved 19 September 2023.
  21. ^ Romero, Alexis (6 July 2020). "¿Se puede hablar catalán, euskera o gallego en las Cortes? Las ataduras al normal uso de las lenguas cooficiales". Público.
  22. ^ 20minutos (30 April 2015). "El 53% de los alumnos de primarias estudian lengua asturiana". - Últimas Noticias (in Spanish). Retrieved 14 May 2023.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  23. ^ Bécares, Bárbara (8 May 2023). "La oficialidad del asturiano, una asignatura pendiente de la legislatura que termina". (in Spanish). Retrieved 14 May 2023.
  24. ^ "Cientos de personas marchan en Uviéu por la oficialidad del asturiano". Retrieved 14 May 2023.
  25. ^ "Día de la Lengua Materna: unos 5.700 alumnos estudian aragonés y catalán de Aragón". CARTV (in European Spanish). Retrieved 14 May 2023.
  27. ^ "Aragón TV - Charrín Charrán". Retrieved 14 May 2023.
  28. ^ Jones, Sam (1 August 2017). "Spain honours Ladino language of Jewish exiles". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
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Languages of Spain
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