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Astur-Leonese linguistic group: Wikis


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Asturllionés: asturianu, llïonés, mirandês
Spoken in Spain (the autonomous communities of Asturias, Extremadura, Castile and León and Cantabria).
Total speakers 300,000-450,000[1]
Language family Indo-European
Writing system Latin alphabet
Official status
Official language in None
Regulated by Academy of the Asturian Language (Asturian), Institute of Mirandese Language (Mirandese)
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 astAsturian
ISO 639-3 variously:
ast – Asturian
ext – Extremaduran
mwl – Mirandese

Astur-Leonese is the generic name for a group of closely related linguistic varieties included in the West Iberian branch of the Romance languages. The linguistc varieties or languages in the group are assigned different names: Asturian, asturianu, or bable, in the Spanish province of Asturias; Leonese language, llionés, in western parts of the provinces of León, Zamora and Salamanca, and in the towns of Rio de Onor (Rionor) and Guadramil, in the District of Bragança (Portugal) [2]; and Mirandese in Miranda do Douro (Portugal). Astur-Leonese dialects closer to Spanish are spoken in Cantabria, where they are called Cantabrian or montañés. There are different positions about whether these speech forms are to be considered dialects of the Spanish language, varieties of Astur-Leonese or independent languages on their own right. The Extremaduran language spoken in north-western Extremadura is more distantly related to the group.

Leonese language (as a denomination for the whole linguistic group) was once considered an informal dialect (basilect) of Spanish, but, in 1906, Ramón Menéndez Pidal showed it was the result of Latin evolution in the Kingdom of León,[3] and now it is considered a separate language.[4] In Portugal, the related Mirandese language is officially recognized.



The language developed from Vulgar Latin with contributions from the pre-Roman languages, which were spoken in the territory of the Astures, an ancient tribe of the Iberian peninsula. Castilian Spanish came to the area later, in the 14th century, when the central administration sent emissaries and functionaries to occupy political and ecclesiastical offices.



Much effort has been made since 1974 to protect and promote Asturian.[5] In 1981 Asturian or Bable, as the language is officially named [6], was recognized as a subject of speficic protection by the local government. In 1994 there were 100,000 first language speakers, and 450,000 second language speakers able to speak or understand Asturian.[7] However, the situation of Asturian is critical, with a large decline in the number of speakers in the last 100 years. At the end of the 20th century, the Academia de la Llingua Asturiana made efforts to provide the language with most of the tools needed by a language to ensure its survival: a grammar, a dictionary, and periodicals. A new generation of Asturian writers both in Asturias have also championed the language. These developments give the Asturianlanguage a greater hope of survival.


In the late 90s several associations unofficially promoted Leonese Language courses. In 2001 the Universidad de León (University of León) created a course for Leonese Teachers, and Local and Provincial Governments developed Leonese Language Courses for adults. Nowadays Leonese can be studied in the most important villages of León, Zamora and Salamanca provinces.

The situation of Leonese as a minority language has driven Leonese to an apparent dead end, and it is considered as a Seriously Endangered Language by UNESCO. There are some efforts to gain acceptance among the urban population (the Leonese Council has made campaigns for young people in the Leonese language). Some reports claim that it will be dead in two generations.

In spite of all the difficulties, the number of young people learning and using it (mainly as a written language) has substantially increased in recent years. Leonese City Council uses Leonese language in its own website and there are Leonese language courses for adult people. Leonese language is taught in sixteen leonese schools.

Leonese language is officially recognised in the Statute of Autonomy of Castile and León.


Portugal has taken a further step in protecting Mirandese, which is closely related to Asturian and specially to Leonese language, and it can be studied. Mirandese was officially recognised by the Portuguese Republic.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ El dialecto leonés y el Atlas lingüístico de Castilla y León (in Spanish)
  3. ^ Menéndez Pidal 1906:128-141
  4. ^ Ethnologue report for Spain. Leonese language is officially recognised by the Autonomous Community of Castile and Leon (2006). In Asturias it is protected under the Autonomous Statute legislation, and is an optional language at schools, being widely studied Euromosaic report, Lexikon der romanitischen Linguistik 6.I:652-708
  5. ^ Bauske 1995
  6. ^
  7. ^ Llera Ramo 1994
  • (German) (Spanish) Bauske, Bernd (1995) Sprachplannung des Asturianischen. Die Normierung und Normalisierung einer romanischen Kleinsprache in Spannungsfeld von Linguistik, Literatur und Politic. Berlin, Köster (There's also a Spanish translation: (1998) Planificación lingüística del asturiano. Xixón, Vtp ISBN 84-89880-20-4)
  • (German) (Spanish) Lexikon der Romanitischen Linguistik, Bd. 6.I: Aragonesisch/Navarresisch, Spanisch, Asturianisch/Leonesisch. Tübingen, Max Niemeyer, ISBN 3-484-50250-9.
  • (Spanish) Llera Ramo, F. (1994) Los Asturianos y la Lengua Asturiana: Estudio Sociolingüístico para Asturias-1991. Oviedo: Consejería de Educación y Cultura del Principado de Asturias ISBN 84-7847-297-5.
  • (Spanish) Menéndez Pidal, R (1906): "El Dialecto Leonés", Revista de Archivos, Bibliotecas y Museos 2-3:128-172, 4-5:294-311 (There's a modern reimpression: (2006) El Dialecto Leonés. León, El Buho Viajero ISBN 84-933781-6-X)
  • Wurm, Stephen A. (ed) (2001) Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger of Disappearing. Unesco ISBN 92-3-103798-6.

External links


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