Language politics of Francoist Spain

Language politics in Spain under Franco

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

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 public use of other languages was either banned, frowned upon or despised depending on the particular circumstances and timing. The situation evolved from the harshest years of the immediate afterwar (especially the 1940s, also the '50s) to the relative tolerance of the last years (late '60s and early '70s); Franco died in 1975, and his successor Juan Carlos of Spain began the Spanish transition to democracy.

Previous situation

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 local language.

The Spanish language

As part of the nationalistic efforts:

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

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. 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




Balearic Islands

Basque Country



Spanish Guinea


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

Spanish North Africa

Valencian Community


See also

External links

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