France/ 5.1 General legislation  

5.1.9 Language laws

The major legal milestones concerning the use of the French language as the one and only official language of the French Republic are:

  • Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts of 1539;
  • Law of 2 Thermidor, An II (25 September 1792);
  • Constitutional Law of 25 June 1992;
  • Law of 4 August 1994 relative to the use of the French language; and
  • Decree of 3 July 1996 relative to the enrichment of the French language.

The Constitution (Article 2) specifies that the national, administrative and daily language of the Republic is French, while remaining open to the use of other languages. Translations of official legal, administrative or financial texts can be made, but they cannot have any constitutional or legal dimension. Nonetheless, a constitutional revision in 2008 introduced in the Constitution Article 75-1 that recognises the heritage dimension of regional languages: "Regional languages are part of France's heritage".

Chapter published: 18-05-2017