While the Constitution does not (yet) contain a provision on the country’s languages, a 1984 law specifies that Luxembourgish is the national language of Luxembourgers. Furthermore, it stipulates that French is the legislative language, whereas Luxembourgish, French and German are to be considered as administrative and judicial languages.
Due to the fact that almost half of the population is made up foreigners, there are many other language communities, the Portuguese being the largest group of foreigners in Luxembourg (approx. 15% of the total population). Thus, the ministry of Education, Children and Youth, foresees specific integrated courses in Portuguese language and culture. More generally speaking, the ministry comprises a specific department for the schooling of foreign children (Service de la scolarisation des enfants étrangers) that informs young people about the Luxembourg school system and available support measures, and also directs them to classes that best match their language skills and profile. Many other communities organise extra-school classes for children, mostly on Saturdays, often with the support of national or local authorities.
As far as culture is concerned, programmes and offers, such as for instance the yearly national literary prize, are in general open to the three official languages, as well as English. Explanations about support schemes are mostly available in French though many efforts are currently being invested into translating e.g. websites and forms into all three official languages, plus English. Though now falling into the competences of the ministry for Education, Children and Youth, the ministry of Culture initiated many years back the Lëtzebuerger Online Dictionnaire, a multilingual online dictionary that translates and exemplifies Luxembourgish words into German, French, English and Portuguese.
Following a petition with the Parliament that gained much attention with the public (nb. the right to petition is enshrined within the Constitution), a law has been passed in 2018 for the promotion of the Luxembourgish language with the aim to:
- reinforce the importance of the Luxembourgish language;
- support the use and study of the Luxembourgish language;
- encourage the learning of the Luxembourgish language and culture;
- promote culture in the Luxembourgish language.
Accordingly, the government also adopted a strategy for the promotion of the Luxembourgish language and designated a commissioner for the Luxembourg language who also coordinates a centre for the language. Part of the strategy is also to financially support cultural projects that aim to promote Luxembourgish or linguistic diversity.
In the area of media, the use of different languages is quite common, be it in written or in spoken form, although Luxembourgish is mostly used on the radio and on television. There is nevertheless also a newspaper in Portuguese (contacto) and a radio station (Radio Ara) that broadcasts its programme in more than 10 different languages.