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The speaker of the Congress of Deputies, Francina Armengol, kept her promise on Wednesday to present a reform of the Spanish lower house's regulations and thus allow MPs to speak (and also present written documents) in Catalan, Basque and Galician. And also in Aranese, as the proposal registered this week also establishes the possibility to use languages that have "official character in some autonomous community in accordance with the Constitution and the corresponding Statute of Autonomy". So, will it be possible to put it into practice and hear Aranese in the middle of Madrid during the next legislature? In other words, are there any speakers of this language in the Spanish lower house? The answer is yes, and his name is Amador Marqués.

Amador Marqués PSC (1)
Amador Marqués, a Congressional deputy for the PSC

Born in Vielha in 1984, he is a member of Congress for the Catalan Socialists (PSC), elected in the elections of the past 23rd July for the constituency of Lleida. Sources from the Catalan Socialists assure this newspaper that Marqués, who speaks Aranese perfectly, intends to use this language at some point, as a "gesture" for linguistic normalization. Everything depends, however, on many factors. We are still in the prologue of the legislature, and it is necessary for the parliamentary groups to define what tasks the various deputies will have during it.

So, it is not yet known what role the deputy might have in the Socialist ranks during the legislature, and if he will have, perhaps, a key role on some committee. From the Socialist party they reiterate that everything will depend on the topic that might be discussed at a given time in the chamber. And, in the same way, Marqués plans to make use of the option of simultaneous translation to Spanish when he uses Aranese to communicate in parliament.

Aranese, now a vehicular language in schools

Aranese is the autochtonous language of the Val d'Aran, in the far north-west of Catalonia. A 2018 linguistic census found that 60% of the population of Val d'Aran - or just over 5,000 people - spoke the Aranese language, while around 80% of the resident population in the mountain valley understood it. Aranese is considered to be a dialect of Occitan, spoken by several hundred thousand people across a broad sweep of southern France, a little of Italy and in the Val d'Aran. It is also a close linguistic relative of Catalan.

In April this year, the Parliament of Catalonia approved the use of Aranese as a vehicular language in schools in the semi-autonomous mountain region. This legislative change modified the law on Catalan language in classrooms to declare Aranese as a vehicular language. As expected, there were dissenting voices. Vox called the legislative initiative "absurd", "stupid" and "colossal" and accused the groups supporting it of wanting to "eradicate Spanish" in Catalonia. "Aranese is not Spanish and, therefore, it is not outlawed like Spanish," said a member of the far-right party.