There is controversy not only regarding whether it is primarily a Spanish or Portuguese language but also about whether it is a mixed language or a transitional language. Barranquian is not intelligible to speakers of either Standard Portuguese nor to speakers of Standard Spanish. Barranquian speakers say that they speak neither Spanish nor Portuguese but a third language altogether different. It is probably best described as a mixture between Old Low Extremaduran (Asturo-Leonese) and Alentejan Portuguese.Ethnologue lists Barranquian as a dialect of Extremaduran, even though the areas where Extremaduran proper is spoken are quite far from Barrancos, and other sources do not support this link.
The development of Barranquenho seems to be relatively recent (in the past 200 years), unlike other minority linguistic varieties in the Iberian Peninsula which have medieval roots.