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Mirandese language


Mirandese language

Native to Portugal
Region Northeast (Miranda do Douro, Vimioso and Mogadouro)
Native speakers
15,000  (2000)[1]
Official status
Official language in
Co-official recognition. Special protection status in Miranda do Douro, Portugal
Regulated by Anstituto de la Lhéngua Mirandesa
Language codes
ISO 639-2 mwl
ISO 639-3 mwl
Glottolog mira1251[2]
Linguasphere 51-AAA-cb
Street sign, at Genísio village, with the street name in Mirandese and in Portuguese

The Mirandese language (autonym: mirandés or lhéngua mirandesa; Portuguese: mirandês or língua mirandesa) is a Romance language belonging to the Astur-Leonese linguistic group, sparsely spoken in a small area of northeastern Portugal, in the municipalities of Miranda do Douro, Mogadouro and Vimioso. The Portuguese Parliament granted it co-official recognition (along with the Portuguese language) for local matters on 17 September 1998 with the law 7/99 of 29 January 1999.

Mirandese has a distinct phonology, morphology and syntax, and has been distinct at least since the formation of Portugal in the 12th century. It has its roots in the spoken Latin of the north of the Iberian Peninsula (Portuguese developed in the northwest).

It is a descendant of the ancient Astur-Leonese language of northern Iberia, the last remnant of the ancient language of the Kingdom of León, and closely related to the modern Astur-Leonese languages in Spain. However, these amalgamations in the Spanish territory did not affect Mirandese, which preserves distinct linguistic differences in relation to both Portuguese and Spanish. It shares a great deal of lexicon with regional Portuguese dialects.


  • Speakers 1
  • Variants 2
  • Features 3
    • Phonology 3.1
    • Morphology 3.2
  • Sample text 4
  • National attention 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


In the 19th century, José Leite de Vasconcelos described it as "the language of the farms, of work, home, and love between the Mirandese". Since 1986–87 it has been taught to students between the ages of 10 and 11, and so is recovering.

Today Mirandese retains fewer than 5,000 speakers (but the number can be up to 15,000 if counting second-language speakers) in the villages of the Municipality of Miranda do Douro and in some eastern villages (e.g. Vilar Seco and Angueira; in Caçarelhos, it is considered recently extinct) of the Municipality of Vimioso, and some linguistic influence can be observed at other villages of the municipality of Vimioso and the municipalities of Mogadouro, Macedo de Cavaleiros and Bragança.


Three variants of the Mirandese language exist: Border Mirandese (Mirandés Raiano), Central Mirandese (Mirandés Central) and Sendinese (Sendinés). Most speakers of Mirandese also speak Portuguese; some of these speak Spanish as well.

The main differences between Mirandese in Portugal and the Astur-Leonese languages in Spain are caused by the dominant languages in each region. Mirandese has been influenced phonetically and in lexicon by Portuguese and the Astur-Leonese languages in Spain by Spanish (Castilian). All have distinctive orthography that phonetically reflects the respective main national languages. Another difference is that Mirandese and Leonese remain very conservative, while Asturian has undergone a greater amount of change.



Some historical developments in Mirandese are:

  • Mirandese maintains distinct reflexes of all seven medieval Ibero-Romance sibilants:
Sound Written Form
/tʃ/ ch
/ʃ/ x
/ʒ/ g / j
/s/ c / ç
/z/ z
/ṣ/ s / -ss-
/ẓ/ s

The /ṣ/ and /ẓ/ indicate apico-alveolar sibilants (as in modern Catalan, northern/central peninsular Spanish, and coastal northern European Portuguese), while /s/ and /z/ are lamino-alveolar sibilants (as in most modern Portuguese, French and English).

Portuguese spelling still distinguishes all seven, and is identical to Mirandese spelling in this respect, but in pronunciation has reduced them to four /s z ʃ ʒ/, except in northern hinterland European Portuguese dialects, including those of the area where Mirandese is located. Northern/central Peninsular Spanish has also reduced them to four but in a quite different way: /tʃ θ ṣ x/. Andalusian Spanish and Latin American Spanish have further reduced them to three: /tʃ s h/.

  • Retention of the initial /f/ from Latin, like nearly all dialects of Western Romance (the major maverick being Spanish, where /f/ > /h/ > ∅).
  • The Latin initial consonant clusters /pl/, /kl/, /fl/ evolve into /ʃ/.
  • Proto-Romance medial clusters -ly- and -cl- became medial /ʎ/.
  • The cluster /-mb-/ is kept.
  • Proto-Romance -mn- becomes /m/: lūm'nem > lume.
  • Falling diphthongs /ei/, /ou/ preserved.
  • Final -o becomes /u/.
  • Voiced sibilants are still maintained.
  • Retention of intervocalic /l/, /n/.
  • Western Romance /ɛ/, /ɔ/ diphthongize to /jɛ/, /wo/, unlike Spanish /we/. This happens not only before palatals (as in Aragonese), but before nasals as well.
  • /l/ is palatalized word-initially (as in Catalan and other Astur-Leonese languages).


As in conservative Portuguese, Mirandese still uses the following synthetic tenses:

  • Synthetic pluperfect in -ra.
  • Future subjunctive in -r(e).
  • Personal infinitive in -r(e). This has the same endings as the future subjunctive but differs in many cases because the personal infinitive always uses the infinitive stem while the future subjunctive uses the past-tense stem.

Sample text

The following is a sample text of the Mirandese language, written by Amadeu Ferreira, and published in the newspaper Público, on 24 July 2007.

Mirandese: Portuguese: English:

Muitas lhénguas ténen proua de ls sous pergaminos antigos, de la lhiteratura screbida hai cientos d'anhos i de scritores hai muito afamados, hoije bandeiras dessas lhénguas. Mas outras hai que nun puoden tener proua de nada desso, cumo ye l causo de la lhéngua mirandesa.

Muitas línguas têm orgulho dos seus pergaminhos antigos, da literatura escrita há centenas de anos e de escritores muito famosos, hoje bandeiras dessas línguas. Mas há outras que não podem ter orgulho de nada disso, como é o caso da língua mirandesa.

Many languages are proud of their ancient scrolls, of the literature written hundreds of years ago and of famous writers, today flags of those languages. But others can't be proud of that, as is the case of the Mirandese language.

Then a comparison of the previous text in three modern languages of the Asturo-leonese group:
Mirandese: Leonese: Asturian:

Muitas lhénguas ténen proua de ls sous pergaminos antigos, de la lhiteratura screbida hai cientos d'anhos i de scritores hai muito afamados, hoije bandeiras dessas lhénguas. Mas outras hai que nun puoden tener proua de nada desso, cumo ye l causo de la lhéngua mirandesa.

Muitas llinguas tien arguyu de los sous pergaminos antiguos, de la lliteratura escrita van cientos d'annos y d'escritores bien famosos; guei bandeiras d'eisas llinguas. Peru hai outras que nun pueden tener arguyu de nada d'eisu, cumu ye'l casu de la llingua mirandesa.

Munches llingües tienen arguyu de los sos pergaminos antiguos, de la lliteratura escrita hai cientos d'años y d'escritores enforma famosos, güei banderes d'eses llingües. Pero hai otres que nun pueden tener arguyu de nada d'eso, como ye'l casu de la llingua mirandesa.

National attention

Public sign with the history of the Cathedral of Miranda do Douro, written in Mirandese.

Mirandese, given its status as second official language in Portugal after Portuguese, has been the subject in recent years of some publicity and attention in other parts of Portugal. A monthly chronicle in Mirandese, by researcher and writer Amadeu Ferreira, appears in the daily Portuguese national newspaper Público. The first volume of the The Adventures of Asterix, named Asterix, L Goulés (Asterix the Gaul), was published in a Mirandese translation by Amadeu Ferreira in 2005, and sold throughout Portugal. Amadeu Ferreira also translated into Mirandese the epic poem by Camões, Os Lusíadas (Ls Lusíadas), under his pseudonym Francisco Niebro and published it in 2009.[3] In 2011, the four Gospels of the Bible's New Testament were translated into Mirandese, and in 2013 the entire Bible was translated into the language by Domingos Augosto Ferreira.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Mirandese at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Mirandese". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ "Oito anos para traduzir "Os Lusíadas" em língua mirandesa - Cartaz - DN". Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  4. ^ Galvan, Virginia. "Exposição "Bíblia Sagrada" traduzida em mirandês em Miranda do Douro". Local.Pt. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  • Ferreira, Manuela Barros e Raposo, Domingos (coord) (1999), Convenção Ortográfica da Língua Mirandesa, Miranda do Douro / Lisbon, ed. Câmara Municipal de Miranda do Douro / Centro de Linguística da Universidade de Lisboa

External links

  • Mirandese as an Endangered Language (PDF, in English)
  • (Portuguese) Orthographic Convention for Mirandese Language (PDF)
  • in MirandeseThe LusiadsExcerpt of
  • L Mirandés: Ũa Lhéngua Minoritaira an Pertual Mirandese: A minority language in Portugal (PDF, in Mirandese)
  • (Portuguese) Piece of legislation which officially recognizes Mirandese as a language of Portugal
  • , January 17, 2012New York TimesSeth Kugel, "In Portugal, Mirandese spoken here - and only here",
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