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Spanish Regional Languages - Leonese

By Mr Grumpy - Sun 31st Jan 2010

The Region of Castile y Leon is the largest of the Spanish Autonomous Regions (with a population of 2.5 million) and, as it's name suggests it is also home to the Offical language of Spain - Castilian.

Some areas of this sprawling region also speak Galician, however, aside from Castilian (which can not really be classed as a Regional Language anyway) the notable spoken language of much of the area is called "Leonese".

The Regional Language of Leonese is popularly spoken in the provinces of Leon and Zamorra (and even in some villages in the North-Eastern area of Portugal) and whilst not being an "official" language of Spain, it does hold the status of being a "recognised" language. Leonese has its roots in Latin, although much of the vocabulary takes an influence from Germanic and Celtic languages, and started to take its current form during the 900's when a number of recognised works of literature were written in the language.

The situation of Leonese is that it is considered a minority language, and this has driven it to near extinction UNESCO even classify the language as "seriously endagered" - and as a result of this many Ayuntamiento's in the area have recently begun a number of programmes and incentives to encourage it's useage. As a result of this Leonese is now taught in 16 Schools to 11 and 12 year old students.

The language is estimated to be understood, and spoken to a degree by approximately 50 to 100 residents of the area. Last year the Leonese City Council reported that 107 Adults had enrolled in newly introduced Adult Education Lessons, taught at 5 different standards, in a bid to keep the traditional language alive. They have hopes and expectations that this number will grow over the coming years.

The vocabulary table shown below should demonstrate how the origins of the Leonese language are associated more closely with Latin than with their neighbour, Castilian :

Leonese Catalan Castilian Latin English
facere fer hacer facere make
facere fer hacer facere make
fiyu fill hijo fil¨«um son
fame gana hambre fam¨«nem hunger
cochu porc puerco sus/porcum pig
vieyu vell viejo vet¨³lum old
chovere ploure llover plovere rain

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