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The Leonese Language: Little-known but widespread, with Alicia Valmaseda

The Leonese Language:  Little-known but widespread, with Alicia Valmaseda

ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – This week’s trivia question:  Where is a variety of Leonés an officially recognized language?

León is now a region of Spain to the northwest of Madrid, but during the Middle Ages it was a kingdom that occupied about a quarter of the area of the Iberian Peninsula, including what is now Galicia and part of Portugal.  Its “fuero”, or code of laws, enacted in 1017, was the first on the Iberian Peninsula, and very advanced for its time.  It is considered the first declaration of rights in Europe, dealing with such topics as the right to private property, judicial guarantees, and the rights of inheritance for both men and women. 

Leonés, the language spoken in León, comes from Latin, and is still spoken in the region, although it is not one of Spain’s officially recognized languages.  Alicia Valmaseda is a specialist in this language and has discovered similarities with Judeo-Spanish, the language of the Sephardic Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492.  She is currently working on a Ladino-Leonés dictionary and spoke about it at the 7th Sephardi Conference, held in Zamora, Spain, in July, 2019.