Leonese, asturian-leonese, astur-leonese
Asturias and northwestern Castile and León (Spain), and northeastern Portugal (municipalities of Miranda do Douro and Vimioso).
Approximate total number: between 300,000 and 450,000 (data from 2007).
Asturias: between 150,000 and 400,000.
Northwestern Castile and León: between 20,000 and 25,000.
Northeastern Portugal: between 10,000 and 15,000.
Legally recognised in Asturias and Castile and León (Spain), as well as in Portugal.
BADIA i CAPDEVILA, Ignasi. Diccionari de les llengües d'Europa. Barcelona: Enciclopèdia Catalana, 2002.
Leonese is the autochthonous result of the evolution of the Latin that was spoken throughout the Cantabrian mountain range at the time of the Roman Empire.
The earliest surviving text dates from the 10th century, but with the union of the kingdoms of Leon and Castile, Leonese had already begun to compete with Castilian Spanish as early as the 13th century. Since then, Leonese has been subordinate to Castilian, seen as a simple dialect, which has been accentuated by the structural similarity between the two languages. However, from the 17th century onwards, and mainly in Asturias, the language has had a certain literary culture.
Nowadays, occupying the former linguistic dominion is a continuum of dialectal varieties that range mainly from Castilian dialects in which certain Leonese expressions have been conserved, in the east and south, to Leonese dialects that are still relatively Castilian-free.
The region of Asturias is the territory where there are more speakers of Leonese and where the language conserves greatest vitality. In the 1970s these factors were important in terms of the modern-day movement of linguistic revival.
Leonese is characterised by three dialect subgroups: Western, Central and Eastern Leonese.
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