Catalan gains official recognition in Northern Catalonia

The General Council of the département of Pirineus Orientals (Pyrénées-Orientales), comprising Northern Catalonia and La Fenolheda, has recently approved a historic “Catalan language Charter”.

The Catalan language has had official recognition in Northern Catalonia since last December following the approval of the “Charte en faveur du catalan” (Catalan language Charter). Despite the significance of such an event, the news had gone unnoticed until Vilaweb published it today.

Although the impact of the Charter on the lives of northern Catalans remains to be seen, it marks a very significant step. The French state has traditionally been extremely reluctant to recognize linguistic diversity -article 2 of its Constitution reads as follows: “The language of the Republic is French”.

The recently approved Charter opens with the following statement: “The Catalan language, born more than a thousand years ago, constitutes one of the pillars of our identity, of our heritage and of the richness of the département of Pirineus Orientals (Northern Catalonia)”. The Charter upholds the principle of bilingualism, promises to guarantee the “durability of Catalan language and culture”, and recognizes the Institut d'Estudis Catalans (Institute of Catalan Studies) as a “linguistic authority".

It will be interesting to see what effect the news of the Charter has on the other minority languages spoken within the French State, namely Basque, Breton, Corsican, Occitan, German and Dutch. Only last week the Office Public de la Langue Basque (Public Office of the Basque Language) presented its working plan in Baiona (Bayonne), in Iparralde (the Basque territory under French administration), another event that perhaps suggests that the French state is becoming more tolerant towards minority languages. 


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