Although it is often used as a tool in politics, especially during the campaign, the reality is that the multilingualism we have in Spain should only be seen as something beneficial. Languages are considered a cultural asset for different reasons, so we better take care of that richness.
Official languages spoken in Spain
Within this linguistic wealth that has been preserved despite the passage of centuries, there are only four official languages in Spain.
- Spanish: logically, the vehicular language throughout the Spanish territory that is shared with many Latin American countries. Its use is widespread even in those regions that have another co-official language.
- Catalan: with a use of 30%, it is one of the most widely spoken languages in Europe. Its similarities with Spanish (both come from Latin) allow immigrants to have less difficulty in learning it and making it their own. Its use extends to Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, the Valencian Community and Aragon.
- Galician: this language is spoken in Galicia and has “respect and protection” in the autonomous community of Castile and Leon. Its relationship with Portuguese made them linguistically united back in the Middle Ages. At least 40% of the population has it as their mother tongue and it is estimated that it is spoken as much or more than Spanish.
- Basque: the Basque language has had two handicaps in recent times; the first is its difficulty due to the few similarities with other languages, which prevents easy learning, and the second is the damage done by its prohibition during Franco’s regime. Despite the constant efforts of the Basque Government and other institutions to promote its use, it is not an easy task.
- Aranese/Occitan: this language, typical of the Aran Valley, is only the mother tongue of 2,800 people, but its status as an official language was confirmed with the 2006 Statute of Autonomy.
Unofficial languages spoken in Spain
In addition to the languages mentioned above, we find two other languages that have some use but no official recognition, such as Aragonese and Astur-Leonese.
The first one lived a certain splendour during the Middle Ages, and spread through the Kingdoms of Navarre, Valencia and, obviously, Aragon. Nowadays, it has hardly any repercussions in some valleys of the Pyrenees, and there are some associations that try to preserve this language so that it does not become extinct.
In the case of Astur-Leonese, it has its main focus of activity in Asturias, where it is the mother tongue of 17% of the population, to which 20% share it with Spanish.
The dialects spoken in Spain
Dialects are varieties of a language that are spoken in a particular geographical region, but without the structures at the linguistic level to enjoy the status of a language. In Spain, we can find the following: