Discovering Mirandese

May 26, 2015 12:48 pm

mapMirandese or Mirandês in Portuguese is a romance language from the Iberian Peninsula which has its origins in Latin and Astur-Leonese. For years it was considered as a dialect and only in 1999 it was officially recognized as the second official language of Portugal. José Leite de Vasconcelos did the first studies about Mirandese in the XIXth century when it was still considered as a dialect. According to this linguist, in 1900 there were about 15000 speakers.

Nowadays this number is difficult to estimate. In fact, according to Amadeu Ferreira, it is spoken by around 6000-10000 persons in Miranda do Douro, Mogadouro and Vimioso. Mirandese speakers are bilingual since they speak both Portuguese and Mirandese. Moreover some people are even trilingual since they speak Mirandese, Portuguese, as well as Spanish. This fact is a result of the close relations people keep with the neighbouring country. Another factor is the geographical position, since this area is on the border of the Spanish province of Zamora. The presence of Spanish tourists in “Miranda do Douro” also contributes to this multilingualism, by bringing the language to the city.

As stated by Manuela Barros Ferreira in “Estudos Mirandeses – Balanços e Orientaçoes”, Mirandese language passed from generation to generation by word of mouth. This linguistic system was and is still considered as an endangered language since it is usually spoken within families, with close neighbours and mostly in small villages. According to Amadeu Ferreira, this language has been spoken in Portugal since the beginning of the country’s existence, but from the XVIth century until today it has been considered as a minority language, in political, sociological and cultural perspectives.

Over the last few years the number of speakers has decreased due to desertification of the region where Mirandese is spoken. However, as it is an indispensable part of humanity’s cultural heritage, numerous initiatives have been undertaken to promote this language. It was introduced in the schools of the region as a school subject, and many linguists express their interest in studying this language, for instance, the linguistic centre of the University of Lisbon and the University of Coimbra.

The Orthographical Standardization of the Mirandese Language was created in 1999 to ensure and justify it as a linguistic system rather than a dialect and to make it more accessible. The first addendum to this spelling convention was approved in 2000. With this document the position of Mirandese as an endangered language started to change. Mainly, it proves that the Mirandese language can be easily expressed in written language with a unified form and grammatical rules. As a matter of fact, Amadeu Ferreira and José Pedro Cardona Ferreira published a Dictionary of Mirandese – Portuguese some years later. This confirms that Mirandese, as any other romance language, has its own diversified vocabulary and the features of a linguistic system.

By way of conclusion, it would be very interesting to conduct research into terminology in Mirandese as a means to maintain the study and spread of this language.

Sources

-Ferreira, A. (2010). O Minimo Sobre a Lingua Mirandesa; (Journal of the Interceltic Festival, Sendim). Revista Jfreguesia. Retrieved in May 12, 2015.

-Meirinhos, J. F. (2000). Estudos Mirandeses: Balanço e Orientações. Porto: Granito Editores e Livreiros. Retrieved in May 12, 2015.

-Czopep, N. (2008). O Mirandês – Um Enclave linguístico de Portugal. Krakow, Poland. . Retrieved in May 12, 2015.

A lingua Mirandesa. Retrieved in May 12, 2015.

By: Inês Vasconcelos, Student at the University of Luxembourg and study visitor at Termcoord.

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