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Mirandese language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Native toPortugal
RegionEastern Tierra de Miranda (Miranda de l Douro and eastern Bumioso)
Native speakers
15,000 (2000)[1]
(~10,000 use it regularly)[2]
Early forms
Official status
Official language in
Co-official recognition. Special protection status in Miranda de l Douro, Portugal. Statutory language of provincial identity in 4 municipalities, northeast Portugal (1999, Law No. 7-99 of 29 January).[2]
Regulated byAnstituto de la Lhéngua Mirandesa
Language codes
ISO 639-2mwl
ISO 639-3mwl
ELPMiranda do Douro
Mirandese speaking area, highlighting its three dialects
   Central Mirandese
   Sendinese Mirandese
   Raiano Mirandese
Mirandese is classified as Definitely Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger
Street sign in Zenízio, with the street name in Mirandese and in Portuguese

Mirandese (mirandés or lhéngua mirandesa) is an Asturleonese[4] language or variety that is sparsely spoken in a small area of northeastern Portugal in eastern Tierra de Miranda (made up of the municipalities of Miranda de l Douro, Mogadouro and Bumioso, being extinct in Mogadouro and present in Bumioso only in some eastern villages, like Angueira). The Assembly of the Republic granted it official recognition alongside Portuguese for local matters with Law 7/99 of 29 January 1999.[5] In 2001, Mirandese was officially recognised by the European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages, which aims to promote the survival of the least spoken European languages.[6]

Mirandese has a distinct phonology, morphology and syntax. It has its roots in the local Vulgar Latin spoken in the northern Iberian Peninsula.

Mirandese is a descendant of the Astur-Leonese variety spoken in the Kingdom of León and has both archaisms and innovations that differentiate it from the modern varieties of Astur-Leonese spoken in Spain. In recognition of these differences, and due to its political isolation from the rest of the Astur-Leonese speaking territory, Mirandese has adopted a different written norm to the one used in Spain for Astur-Leonese.


In the 19th century, José Leite de Vasconcelos described Mirandese as "the language of the farms, of work, home, and love between the Mirandese". Since 1986–87, it has been taught optionally to students at the primary and lower secondary level, and has thus been somewhat recovering.[7] By Law 7/99, Mirandese was given official recognition by the Assembly of the Republic alongside Portuguese. The law provides for its promotion and allows its usage for local matters in Miranda do Douro.

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 (such as 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.

A 2020 survey by University of Vigo, carried out in Miranda do Douro, estimated the number of speakers of the language to be around 3,500 with 1,500 of them being regular speakers. The study observed strong decline in the usage of language in younger people.[8]


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.

How the masculine singular definite article is said in the mirandese speaking territory, ‘L’. All villages that speak the Raiano dialect (except for San Martino) say /lu/, while all other villages say /ɐl/.

Despite there being a singular writing system for mirandese, there is one aspect that is written differently in different dialects. In the Sendinese dialect, many words that in other dialects are said with /ʎ/ ⟨lh⟩, are said with /l/ ⟨l⟩ (alá for alhá 'over there', lado for lhado 'side', luç for lhuç 'light', amongst others)

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. 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.[9]


Some historical developments in Mirandese are the following:

  • Mirandese maintains distinct reflexes of all seven medieval Ibero-Romance sibilants:
Ibero-Romance Mirandese European
/t͡ʃ/ /t͡ʃ/
/ʃ/ /ʃ/
/ʒ/ or /d͡ʒ/ /ʒ/
⟨g⟩ / ⟨j⟩
⟨g⟩ / ⟨j⟩
⟨g⟩ / ⟨j⟩
/t͡s/ > /s̻/ /s̻/
⟨c⟩ / ⟨ç⟩
⟨c⟩ / ⟨ç⟩
⟨c⟩ / ⟨z⟩
/d͡z/ > /z̻/ /z̻/
⟨c⟩ / ⟨z⟩
/s̺/ /s̺/
⟨s⟩ / ⟨-ss-⟩
⟨s⟩ / ⟨-ss-⟩
/z̺/ /z̺/
/s̺/ and /z̺/ indicate apico-alveolar sibilants (as in modern Catalan, northern/central peninsular Spanish and coastal northern European Portuguese), while /s̻/ and /z̻/ are dentalized laminal alveolar sibilants (as in most modern Portuguese, French and English). The unrelated Basque language also maintains a distinction between /s̺/ and /s̻/ (Basque has no voiced sibilants), which suggests that the distinction originally was an areal feature across Iberia.
Portuguese spelling still distinguishes all seven and is identical to Mirandese spelling in this respect, but in pronunciation, Portuguese has reduced them to four /s, z, ʃ, ʒ/ except in northern hinterland European Portuguese dialects, including those of the area that Mirandese is spoken. Northern/central Peninsular Spanish has also reduced them to four but in quite a different way: /t͡ʃ, θ, s̺, x/. Western Andalusian Spanish and Latin American Spanish have further reduced them to three: /t͡ʃ, s̻, x/.
  • Retention of the initial /f/ from Latin, like nearly all dialects of Western Romance (the major maverick being Spanish, where /f/> /h/ > ∅).
  • As in Portuguese, 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/ can diphthongize to /jɛ/, /wo/ (as in Italian). That happens not only before palatals, as in Aragonese, but also before nasals.
  • /l/ is palatalized word-initially (as in other Astur-Leonese languages and in Catalan).


Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar
Nasal m ⟨m⟩ n ⟨n⟩ ɲ ⟨nh⟩
Plosive voiceless p ⟨p⟩ t ⟨t⟩ k ⟨c, q⟩
voiced b ⟨b⟩ d ⟨d⟩ ɡ ⟨g⟩
Affricate voiceless ⟨ch⟩
Fricative voiceless f ⟨f⟩ ⟨c, ç⟩
⟨s, ss⟩
ʃ ⟨x⟩
voiced ⟨z⟩ ⟨s⟩ ʒ ⟨j⟩
Approximant central j ⟨y⟩ (w) ⟨u-⟩
lateral l ⟨l⟩ ʎ ⟨lh⟩
Trill r ⟨r, rr⟩
Tap ɾ ⟨r⟩
  • As stated above, the laminal dental sibilants correspond to Portuguese /s, z/. These are spelled c/ç and z. The corresponding alveolar sibilants are apical and are spelled s(s) and s. Furthermore, there is an additional palatal affricate /tʃ/ ch that is distinct from the fricative /ʃ/, spelled x. The voiced /ʒ/ is spelled j or g, as in Portuguese. Standard Portuguese has reduced all those sounds to just four fricatives: /s, z, ʃ, ʒ/.
  • The "hard" or "long" R is an alveolar trill /r/, as in other varieties of Astur-Leonese and Spanish. The Portuguese uvular fricative [ʁ] is not found in Mirandese. The "soft" or "short" R is an ordinary alveolar tap [ɾ] commonly found in the Iberian Peninsula. As in other languages spoken in the region, the two contrast only in the word-internal position.
  • Voiced stops /b, d, ɡ/ can be lenited as fricatives [β, ð, ɣ].[10]


All oral and nasal vowel sounds and allophones are the same from Portuguese, with different allophones:

Oral vowels
Front Central Back
Close i (ɨ) u
Close-mid e o
Open-mid ɛ ɐ ɔ
Open a
Nasal vowels
Front Central Back
Close ĩ (ɨ̃) ũ
Open/mid ɛ̃ ɐ̃ õ
  • /a/ has allophones of [ä, ɐ], /e/ with [ɛ, e, ɨ], and /o/ with [ɔ, o, u] and [ʊ]. And with the addition of nasal vowel sounds [ɨ̃] and [ɛ̃] for /ẽ/.
  • Vowels /i, u/ can become glides [j, w] when preceding or following other vowels.[10]

Dialectal variations[edit]

The main differences between the three mirandese dialects are in the pronunciation of words.

Dialect Sentence IPA Meaning
Central Hai más/mais fuogo alhá, i ye deimingo! ˈaj ˈmas̺/ˈmajs̺ ˈfwo.ɣu ɐˈʎa, i je dejˈmĩ.gu 'there’s more fire over there, and it’s Sunday!'
Sendinese Hai más fuogo alá, i ye demingo! ˈaj ˈmas̺ ˈfu.ɣu ɐˈla, i ji dɨˈmĩ.gʲu 'there’s more fire over there, and it’s Sunday!'
Raiano Hai más fuogo alhá, i ye deimingo! ˈaj ˈmas̺ ˈfwo.ɣu/ˈfwo.u ɐˈʎa, i je dejˈmĩ.gʲu 'there’s more fire over there, and it’s Sunday!'


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

  • Synthetic pluperfect in -ra.
  • Future subjunctive in -r(e).
  • Personal infinitive in -r(e), which has the same endings as the future subjunctive but often differs as the personal infinitive always uses the infinitive stem, whereas the future subjunctive uses the past.

Protection measures[edit]

The following measures have been taken to protect and develop Mirandese:

  • allow primary teaching staff in the district of Miranda do Douro to teach in Mirandese, since 1986/1987, thanks to the ministerial authorisation published on 9 September 1985;
  • publish books in Mirandese and about the Mirandese language, promoted by the Council of Miranda do Douro;
  • facilitate annual celebrations in the city as well as a literary competition, promoted by the Council of Miranda do Douro;
  • use of Mirandese in town celebrations, official commemorations and, occasionally, on social media;
  • publish two volumes of the Asterix comic books;
  • translate all the toponymic signs in Miranda do Douro, promoted by the Council of Miranda do Douro in 2006;
  • develop studies by research centres in Portugal, such as "Atlas Linguístico de Portugal", by the Centro de Linguística at University of Lisbon, and "Inquérito Linguístico Boléo", by the University of Coimbra;
  • create Biquipédia, a Mirandese Wikipedia;
  • make sites available in Mirandese, such as Photoblog and WordPress.
  • Mirandese music was recorded by Roberto Leal for his albums "Canto da Terra" (2007) and "Raiç/Raíz" (2010).

Sample text[edit]

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 take pride in their ancient scrolls, their centuries-old literature, and in famous writers, today standards of those languages. But there are others which can't boast of any of this, as in the case of Mirandese.

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.


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

Mirandese, given its status as a recognised 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 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.[11] 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 Augusto Ferreira.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mirandese at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b Mirandese language at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  3. ^ "Mirandese in Portugal | UNESCO WAL".
  4. ^ "Discovering Mirandese". Terminology Coordination Unit. 26 May 2015. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  5. ^ "Lei 7/99, 1999-01-29". Diário da República Eletrónico (in Portuguese). Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  6. ^ Svobodová, Petra. "Mirandese language and its influence on the culture of the municipality of Miranda do Douro". Universidade Palacký.
  7. ^ Goreti Pera (18 December 2016). "'Buonos dies'. Aqui fala-se Mirandês, a língua dos avós e das crianças". Ciberdúvidas da Língua Portuguesa (https://ciberduvidas.iscte-iul.pt) (in Portuguese). Retrieved 12 September 2021. No concelho, são cerca de 300 os estudantes que frequentam a disciplina opcional de língua mirandesa. Esta é lecionada exclusivamente no Agrupamento de Escolas de Miranda do Douro desde 1986
  8. ^ "Mirandês "está numa situação muito crítica" e pode desaparecer". Diário de Notícias. Retrieved 21 June 2024.
  9. ^ Alves, António; Barros, Anabela (2015). "Mirandês, leonês, português e castelhano: glotocídio e conciliação". In Macedo, Ana Gabriela; Sousa, Carlos Mendes de; Moura, Vítor (eds.). Conflito e Trauma: XVI Colóquio de Outono (in Portuguese). V. N. Famalicão: Húmus; Centro de Estudos Humanísticos da Universidade do Minho. pp. 413–434.
  10. ^ a b Ferreira & Raposo (1999).
  11. ^ "Oito anos para traduzir "Os Lusíadas" em língua mirandesa". Diário de Notícias (in Portuguese). Lusa. 19 August 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  12. ^ Galvan, Virginia (22 March 2013). "Exposição "Bíblia Sagrada" traduzida em mirandês em Miranda do Douro" (in Portuguese). Local.Pt. Archived from the original on 6 June 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2014.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]