Extremaduran language

From Academic Kids

Extremaduran is a Romance language spoken by some thousands in Spain, most of them in the autonomous community of Extremadura and the province of Salamanca.

The extremaduran is usually classified in three branches (Northern or "High" - 'artu estremeñu' -, Central or "Middle" - 'meyu estremeñu' - and Southern or "Low" - 'bahu estremeñu'). The northern one is usually considered to be the language, and is spoken in the northwest of the autonomous region of Extremadura, and the southwest of Salamanca, a province of the autonomous region of Castile-Leon. The central and southern ones are spoken in Extremadura and in the provinces of Huelva and Seville, in the autonomous region of Andalusia, and are at least since the 18th century Castilian dialects. In the Portuguese town of Barrancos though (in the border between Extremadura, Andalusia and Portugal), the old Extremaduran language is mixed with Portuguese in what is called the "barranquenho", the Barrancainian dialect. The northern extremaduran had also a sub-dialectal region in Salamanca, the "palra d'El Rebollal", which has almost disappeared.

History

The Western Extremadura was reconquered by the Kingdom of Leon, being the Astur-Leonese the language (or Latin dialect) used by those new Christian inhabitants, who arrived around the 12th century to the actual territory where the Extremaduran is still spoken.

After the union of the kingdoms of Leon and Castile (into the 'Crown of Castile'), the Castilian language (Spanish) slowly substituted Latin as the official language of the institutions, thus relegating the Astur-Leonese to a sign of poverty and ignorance of those who spoke it. Only in Asturias (where the language was born) had the people conscience of speaking a language, different from Castilian; but even there only some authors used it in their writings.

Probably the cultural upheaval of Salamanca's Castilian University was the cause of the quick Castilianisation of this province, so dividing the Astur-Leonese domain between the Asturian in the north (today also called "Astur-Leonese" and bable or bables), and the Extremaduran in the south of the old Leonese kingdom. The expansion of Spanish also came from the south with the economic revival of the Province of Badajoz.

The late 19th century saw the first serious attempt to write in Extremaduran, up to then an oral language, with the famous 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, and also writing most of its works in Spanish.

After that, localisms are the pattern in the attempts to defend the Extremaduran language, to the extent that today only some try to revive the language and make northern Extremadura a bilingual region, whereas the government and official institutions think the best solution is for the northwestern Extremadurans to speak a Castilian dialect without any kind of protection. There are also attempts to transform the southern Castilian dialects ("castuo", as Luis Chamizo named it) into a language, what makes even harder to defend the real language and makes it easier for the administration to reject co-officiality and normalisation of the Extremaduran. It is seriously endangered of disappearing, with only the oldest people speaking its remains at present, with the most part of the extremaduran population ignoring the actual delimitation (or even the existence) of the language, and with almost all the written media and all the audiovisual media in Spanish.

Organisations and Media

There exists a regional organisation in Extremadura, APLEx [1] (http://www.aplexextremadura.com/englishindex.htm), which tries to defend the Extremaduran language (and also the Spanish dialects of Extremadura), one journal (Belsana) and one cultural newspaper, Iventia [2] (http://www.iventia.com), written in the new unified Extremaduran and the old sub-dialect "palra d'El Rebollal".


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