France: regional languages to be recognised in Constitution

Damien Hall halldj at
Sun May 25 00:18:03 UTC 2008

In recent weeks, the status of the regional languages of France has been
discussed in both chambers of the French parliament:  the National Assembly (7
May 2008)

and the Senate (13 May 2008)

This week, an amendment to the Constitution was adopted which aims to ensure
that the regional and minority languages of France are not disadvantaged.  The
Government prefers the amendment to be made to Article 1 (on the make-up of the
Republic) rather than Article 2 (the one that specifies that the language of the
Republic is French).  That could be telling!

My account is vague, and doubtless the full implications of the decision have
not been worked out yet, but:

- Adoption of the Constitutional amendment (22 May 2008):
(search for Amendment 605, which is the relevant amendment in a long session
featuring all sorts of amendments on different subjects)

- An article on it from _Le Monde_ (there are articles on it in most papers):,14-0,39-35552698@7-40,0.html

I think this could be good news for minority-language communities in France.
(The amendment applies, as far as I know, only to autochthonous minority
languages, not to the other languages that have been declared _langues de
France_ because they have sizeable numbers of native speakers in France who
came from former French colonies, such as Berber.)  We'll see how it all pans
out, but this is a good step.

Damien Hall
University of Pennsylvania

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