Language policies of Francoist Spain

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Language politics in Francoist Spain centered on attempts in Spain under Franco to increase the dominance of the Spanish language (Castilian) over the other languages of Spain. The regime of Francisco Franco had Spanish nationalism as one of its bases.[1]

Under his dictatorship, the Spanish language (known in some parts of Spain as castellano, i.e., Castilian) was declared Spain's only official language. The situation evolved from the harshest years of the immediate afterwar (especially the 1940s, also the 1950s) to the relative tolerance of the last years (late 1960s and early 1970s); Franco died in 1975, and his successor Juan Carlos of Spain began the Spanish transition to democracy.

Previous situation[edit]

For the first time in the history of Spain, the Second Republic recognised Galician, Basque, and Catalan as official languages when it granted autonomy for some regions with a regional language.

The Spanish language[edit]

Linguistic map Southwestern Europe.gif

As part of the nationalistic efforts:

  • Spanish films were produced only in Spanish. Foreign films were required to be dubbed.
  • Spanish names and Spanish versions of Catholic and classical names were the only ones allowed. Leftist names like Lenín and regional names like even the Catalan Jordi (after Catalonia's patron saint, Saint George) were forbidden and even forcibly replaced in official records. Only Christian names in Spanish were allowed in official documents.

In the first decade of Franco's rule, languages other than Castilian were "confined to private spaces".[1]

In the regime's most radical discourse, languages other than Spanish were often considered "dialects" in the sense of speeches that were not developed enough to be "real languages". Basque was different enough that it could not be taken as a debased form of Spanish but was despised as a rural language of limited currency, unfit for modern discourse.[2] This never happened at the academic level, though.

All these policies became less strict and more permissive as time passed.


The Press Law of Manuel Fraga Iribarne replaced the pre-publication censorship with after-the-fact punishments.

Situation by areas[edit]




Balearic Islands[edit]

Basque Country[edit]




Spanish Guinea[edit]


CA Osasuna was allowed to maintain its Basque name, unlike other football teams with non-Spanish names.

Spanish North Africa[edit]

Valencian Community[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sebastian Balfour, "Spain from 1931 to the Present", in Spain: a History, edited by Raymond Carr. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 0198206194. (p. 266).
  2. ^ Colin Baker, Sylvia Prys Jones, Encyclopedia of Bilingualism and Bilingual Education, (1998), Multilingual Matters (pp. 285-6).
  3. ^
  4. ^

External links[edit]