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Extremaduran language

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Title: Extremaduran language  
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Subject: Mirandese language, Cantabrian dialect, Western Romance languages, Aragonese language, Asturian language
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Extremaduran language

Native to Spain
Region Autonomous community of Extremadura
Native speakers
unknown (undated figure of 200,000)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ext
Glottolog extr1243[2]

Extremaduran (autonym: estremeñu, IPA: ) is a Romance language, spoken by several hundred thousand people in Spain, in an area covering the north-western part of the autonomous community of Extremadura and adjoining areas in the province of Salamanca.[3][4] It is difficult to establish the exact boundary between Extremaduran and the Spanish dialects spoken in most of Extremadura.


The linguistic varieties of Extremadura are usually classified in three main branches: Northern or "High" (artu estremeñu), Central or "Middle" (meyu estremeñu), and Southern or "Low" (baju estremeñu).[4] The northern one is usually considered to be the language proper,[5] and is spoken in the north-west of the autonomous region of Extremadura, and the south-west of Salamanca, a province of the autonomous region of Castile and León. The central and southern ones are spoken in the rest of Extremadura, and are not different enough from standard Spanish to be considered anything but dialects of it, since at least the 18th century.

Northern Extremaduran is also spoken in a few villages of southern Salamanca, being known there as the "palra d'El Rebollal", which is now almost extinct.


After the union of the kingdoms of León and Castile (into the "Crown of Castile and León"), the Castilian language slowly replaced Latin as the official language of the institutions, thus relegating Old Leonese to a sign of poverty and ignorance of those who spoke it. Only in Asturias, where the language was born, were people conscious of speaking a language different from Castilian; but even there only some authors used it in their writings.

It was probably the cultural upheaval of Spanish-speaking Salamanca's University that was the cause of the rapid Castilianisation of the eastern parts of this province, so dividing the Astur-Leonese domain between Asturian, Leonese and the Extremaduran in the south of the old Leonese kingdom.

The late 19th century saw the first serious attempt to write in Extremaduran, up to then an oral language,[6] with the poet José María Gabriel y Galán. Born in Salamanca, he lived most of his life in the north of Cáceres, Extremadura. He wrote in a local variant of Extremaduran, full with dialectal remains, but always with an eye on Spanish usage.

After that, localisms are the pattern in the attempts to defend the Extremaduran language, to the extent that today only a few people are trying to revive the language and make northern Extremadura a bilingual region,[7] whereas the government and official institutions seem to think the best solution is for northwestern Extremadurans to speak a Castilian dialect without any kind of protection.[8] There are also attempts to transform the southern Castilian dialects ("castúo", as some people named them using the word which appeared in Luis Chamizo's poems) into a language, which makes it even harder to defend High Extremaduran, considered more frequently a "real" language, and makes it easier for the administration to reject co-officiality and the normalisation of Extremaduran.[9] It is in serious danger of extinction, with only the oldest people speaking it at present, while most of the Extremaduran population ignores the language, since the majority of Extremadurans, and even its own speakers, regard it as a poorly spoken Spanish.[10]

In 2013, the people of Serradilla created the first feature film in Extremaduran, Territoriu de bandolerus.

Phonological characteristics

In High Extremaduran
  • Features related to Astur-Leonese:
    • Post-tonic o becomes u, e.g. oru [ˈoɾu] 'gold'.
    • Post-tonic e becomes i, e.g. calli [ˈkaʎi] or [ˈkaʝi] 'street'.
    • Latin word-final e, chiefly after d, is not lost, e.g. redi [ˈreði] 'net'.
    • Some cases of palatalization of word-initial n, e.g. ñíu [ˈɲiu] 'nest'.
    • Conservation of the consonantic group mb in intermediate position, e.g. lambel [lamˈbel] 'to lick'.
    • Frequent conservation of word-initial [h] derived from a Latin f-. This consonant is lost in most Spanish varieties, but is common with much of Andalusia, e.g. higu [ˈhiɣu] 'fig'.
    • Occasional conservation of word-initial f, e.g. fogal [foˈɣal] 'home, hearth'.
  • Features related to southern peninsular Spanish:
    • General loss of intervocalic d, e.g. mieu [ˈmjeu] 'fear'.
    • Debuccalization of post-vocalic /s/, /ks/ and /θ/ into [ʰ] (S-aspiration), e.g. estal [ɛʰtˈtal] 'to be'.
  • Other features:
    • Infinitives in -l, e.g. dil [ˈdil] 'to go'.
    • Metathesis of the consonant cluster rl into lr, e.g. chalral [tʃalˈral] 'to talk'.
    • Occasional interchange of the liquid consonants l/r, e.g. craru [ˈkɾaɾu] 'clear'.[11]
    • Preservation of some old voiced fricatives, such as some instances of [ð] corresponding to [z] in Portuguese, or [θ] corresponding to [s] in Portuguese (both corresponding to /θ/ in Spanish). This feature is an archaism preserved from Old Spanish or Old Astur-Leonese, as it only happens when etymologically justified. When a voiced fricative appears, one also does in languages such as Catalan or Portuguese: Extremaduran tristeza [triʰtˈteða] 'sadness' (still voiced in Portuguese tristeza [tɾiʃˈtezɐ], voice lost in Spanish tristeza [trisˈteθa]), but Extremaduran cabeça [kaˈβeθa] 'head' (voiceless also in Portuguese cabeça [kɐˈβesɐ], Spanish cabeza [kaˈβeθa]). This feature is dying out quite fast, but it is found all over the High Extremaduran speaking area.

Grammar characteristics

In High Extremaduran
  • Anteposition of the article before the possessive pronoun, as in Old Spanish or in many Romance languages such as Leonese, Portuguese, Catalan or Italian.
  • Anteposition of the particle lu (or lo), in some interrogative sentences.
  • Use of diminutives inu and ina, as heritage from Leonese (as in Portuguese).
  • Occasional formation of gerund, derived from a form of the verb in past tense.
  • Usage of a vocative-exclamative case. When nouns are in the vocative, the closing of post-tonic vowels (e into i and o into u) disappears and those vowels open. El Ramiru quíi venil (Ramiro wants to come), but Ramiro, ven pacá (Ramiro, come here!). Sé quién lo vidu, Pepi (I know who saw it, Pepe did), but Sé quién lo vidu, Pepe (I know who saw it, Pepe). This is a charasteristic shared with the Fala language. Extremaduran and the Fala language are actually the only western Romance languages with a distinct form of vocative case for nouns formed with a change in the ending.
  • Usage of the preposition a with the verbs andal and estal indicating static temporal location, contrasting with the usage of en. Está a Caçris "He's in Cáceres (for a few days), está en Caçris "He's in Cáceres", Está pa Caçris "He's around Cáceres".
  • A very frequent usage of deictic forms to which enclitic pronouns can be added at the end. They can be used in the middle of a sentence: Velaquí la mi casa (Here is my house), velallilu (there he is), Paquí se curtivan velaquí lechugas, millu... (Look, lettuce, corn and so on is grown here).
  • Usage of reduplicated forms of plural pronouns with a reciprocal sense (ellus y ellus, vujotrus y vujotrus...): Estaban brucheandu ellus y ellus: They were wrestling with each other.

Lexical characteristics

In High Extremaduran
  • Usage of terms considered in Spanish as archaisms. Ex: ludia (Spanish levadura, "yeast").
  • Presence of terms, used commonly, that are derived from Andalusian Arabic. Ex: zagal (from Andalusian Arabic zaḡál, "boy").

Comparative tables

Latin Italian Romanian Spanish Portuguese Extremaduran Leonese English
altum alto inalt alto alto artu [11] altu high
quasi quasi aproape casi quase cuasi, abati cuasi almost
dicere dire a zice decir [de'θir] dizer izil [i'ðil] dicire to say
facere fare a face hacer [a'θer] fazer hazel [ha'ðel] facere to do
focum fuoco foc fuego fogo hueu fueu fire
flammam fiamma flama llama chama flama chama flame
legere leggere a citi leer ler leel lliere to read
linguam lingua limbă lengua língua luenga/léngua llingua language
lumbum lombo (zona) lombara lomo lombo lombu llombu loin
matrem madre mamă madre mãe mairi mai mother
mirulum merlo mierla mirlo melro mielru mielru blackbird
monstrare mostrare demonstrare mostrar mostrar muestral amuesare to show
nostrum nostro nostru nuestro nosso muestru/nuestru nuesu ours
tussem tosse tuse tos tosse tossi tose cough

* The words in this table refer only to High Extremaduran

** Extremaduran words in this table are spelled according to Ismael Carmona García's orthography

Organizations and media

There exists a regional organization in Extremadura, APLEx,[12] which tries to defend the Extremaduran language (and also the Spanish dialects of Extremadura), one journal (Belsana) and one cultural newspaper, Iventia,[13] written in the new unified Extremaduran and the old dialect "palra d'El Rebollal".

Textual example

Extremaduran Leonese Asturian Spanish English
El estremeñu es una luenga palrá nel noroesti de la comuniá autónoma d'Estremaúra. L'estremennu yía una llingua falada nel noruesti la comunidá autónoma Estremadura. L'estremeñu ye una llingua falada nel noroeste de la comunidá autónoma d'Estremadura. El extremeño es una lengua hablada en el noroeste de la comunidad autónoma de Extremadura. Extremaduran is a language spoken in the northwest of the autonomous community of Extremadura.

See also


  1. ^ Extremaduran at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Extremaduran". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Ethnologue
  4. ^ a b Proel
  5. ^ Españolsinfronteras
  6. ^ Congrese about the Extremaduran language
  7. ^ HoySpanish journal
  8. ^ Interview to Antonio Viudas
  9. ^ González Salgado, José Antonio (2003). "La conciencia lingüística de los hablantes extremeños". In C. Alemany Bay. Actas del Congreso Internacional "La lengua, la Academia, lo popular, los clásicos, los contemporáneos..." 2. pp. 725–735.  
  10. ^ Congrese about the Extremaduran in Serradilla
  11. ^ a b Ismael Carmona García's dictionary 2005 Izionariu castellanu-estremeñu
  12. ^ Aplex
  13. ^ Inventia

External links

  • Languages of Spain and map (Spanish)
  • Virtual Library Extremaduran Language (Spanish)
  • APLEx Extremadura Cultural Society
  • — A cultural news site in Extremaduran
  • Linguistic cartography of Extremadura, which offers 418 linguistic and ethnographic maps on rural lexicon (Spanish)
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