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Aragonese ( in English, in Spanish), is a Romance language now spoken in a number of local varieties by between 10,000 and 30,000 people over the valleys of the Aragón River, Sobrarbe and Ribagorzamarker in Aragonmarker. It is also colloquially known as (literally, "speech") and is the only remaining speech form derived from medieval Navarro-Aragonese dialects.


Aragonese originated around the eighth century as one of many Latin dialects developed in the Pyreneesmarker on top of a strong Basque-like substratum. The original Kingdom of Aragonmarker (formed by the counties of Aragon, Sobrarbe and Ribagorza) was progressively expanded from the mountain ranges towards the South, pushing the Moors farther south in the Reconquista and spreading the Aragonese language.

The dynastic union of the Catalan Countiesmarker and the Kingdom of Aragon—which formed the Aragonese Crown in the twelfth century—did not result in a merging of the language forms of the two territories into a single form; Catalan continued to be spoken in the east, and Navarro-Aragonese in the west. The Aragonese reconquista to the south ended in the kingdom of Murciamarker, which was ceded by James I of Aragon to the Kingdom of Castile as a dowry for an Aragonese princess.

The spread of Castilian, now more commonly known as Spanish, and the Castilian origin of the Trastamara dynasty and a strong similarity between Castilian and Aragonese, meant that further recession was to follow. One of the key moments in the history of Aragonese was when a king of Castilian origin was appointed in the fifteenth century: Ferdinand I of Aragon, also known as Ferdinand of Antequera.

The mutual union of the crowns of Aragon and Castile and the progressive suspension of all capacity of self-rule from the sixteenth century meant that Aragonese, while still widely spoken, was limited to a rural and colloquial use, as the nobility chose Spanish as their symbol of power.

During the rule of Francisco Franco in the twentieth century and the spreading of compulsory schooling, Aragonese was regarded as a mere dialect of Spanish, and therefore was frowned upon (for example, pupils were punished in schools for using it).

Then, the constitutional democracy voted by the people in 1978 also meant the debut of literary works and studies conducted in and about the Aragonese language.

Modern Aragonese

Today, Aragonese is still spoken natively within its core area, the Aragonese mountain ranges of the Pyrenees, in the comarcas of Somontano, Jacetania, Sobrarbe, and Ribagorza.

These are the major cities and towns where Aragonese speakers can still be found: Huescamarker, Grausmarker, Monzónmarker, Barbastromarker, Bielsamarker, Chisténmarker, Fonz, Echo, Estadillamarker, Benasquemarker, Campomarker, Sabiñánigo, Jacamarker, Plan, Ansómarker, Ayerbemarker, Brotomarker, and El Gradomarker.

Aragonese is also learnt as a second language by other inhabitants of the country in areas like Huescamarker, Zaragozamarker, Ejea de los Caballerosmarker, and Teruelmarker. According to recent polls, altogether they only make up around 10,000 active speakers and about 30,000 passive speakers.

There are about 25-30 dialectal variants of Aragonese, the majority of which are in the province of Huescamarker, due to its mountainous terrain where natural isoglosses have developed around valley enclaves, and where, not surprisingly, the highest incidence of spoken Aragonese is found. Ribagorçan, is one such variant: an eastern Aragonese dialect, which is transitional to Gascon, Occitan, Catalan, and Spanish.

Phonological characteristics

Some historical traits of Aragonese language:

  • As in Spanish, open O, E from Romance result systematically into diphthongs , , e.g. VET'LA > ("old woman", Sp. , Cat. )

  • Loss of final unstressed -E, e.g. GRANDE > ("big")

  • Unlike Spanish, Romance initial F- is preserved, e.g. FILIUM > ("son", Sp. , Cat. , Pt. )

  • Romance yod (GE-, GI-, I-) results in voiceless palatal affricate ch , e.g. IUVENEM > ("young man", Sp. , Cat. ), GELARE > ("to freeze", Sp. , Cat. )

  • Like in Occitan and Galician/Portuguese, Romance groups -ULT-, -CT- result in , e.g. FACTUM > ("done", Sp. , Cat. , Gal./Port. ), MULTUM > ("many"/"much", Sp. , Cat. , Gal. , Port. )

  • Romance groups -X-, -PS-, SCj- result into voiceless palatal fricative ix , e.g. COXU > ("crippled", Sp. , Cat. )

  • Unlike Spanish, Romance groups -Lj-, -C'L-, -T'L- result into palatal lateral ll , e.g. MULIERE > ("woman", Sp. , Cat. ), ACUT'LA > ("needle", Sp. , Cat. )

  • Unlike Spanish, Latin -B- is maintained in past imperfect endings of verbs of the second and third conjugations: ("he had", Sp. , Cat. ), ("he was sleeping", Sp. , Cat. )

  • Aragonese is, along with dialects of Gascon, the only Western Romance language to have preserved the voicelessness of many intervocalic stop consonants, e.g. CLETAM > ("sheep hurdle", Cat. , Fr. ), CUCULLIATAM > cocullata ("crested lark", Sp. , Cat. )


Contemporary Aragonese has two orthographic standards:
  • The grafía de Uesca codified in 1987 by the Consello d'a Fabla Aragonesa (CFA) at a convention in Huescamarker (Aragonese: Uesca) is used by a majority of Aragonese writers. It uses a more uniform system when assigning letters to phonemes with less regard to the etymology of a word. For example, words traditionally written with "v" and "b" are uniformly written with "b" in the Uesca system. Likewise "ch", "j", "g(+e)", and "g(+i)" are all written "ch". In addition, the orthography uses letters more strongly associated with Spanish (e.g., "ñ").
  • The grafía SLA devised in 2004 by the Sociedat de Lingüistica Aragonesa (SLA) is used by a minority of Aragonese writers. It uses more etymological-based forms that are closer to Catalan, Occitan, and medieval Aragonese sources. With the SLA system, "v" and "b" and "ch", "j", "g(+e)", and "g(+i)" are distinct forms and "ny" is used instead of "ñ".

In 2006, an Academia de l'Aragonés was established but, , it had not decided on a single orthographic standard.

In the sixteenth century, Aragonese Moriscoes wrote some texts in Arabic writing as Andalusi Arabic was forgotten or forbidden.


Aragonese grammar is similar to the grammar of other Iberian Romance languages, such as Spanish and Catalan.


Aragonese, like many other Romance languages, but unlike other Ibero-Romance languages, preserves the difference between the Latin forms 'inde' and 'ibi' as clitics 'en/ne' and 'bi/i/ie'.

See also


  1. Normas graficas de l'aragonés

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