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Leonese language

Native to Spain, Portugal
Region Provinces of Asturias, León (north and west), Zamora (north-west) in Spain, and the towns of Rionor and Guadramil in northeastern Portugal;Mirandese dialect in Portugal.
Native speakers
20,000–50,000 (2008)
Official status
Official language in
As of 2010, has special status in the Spanish autonomous community of Castile and León
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog leon1250
Linguasphere 51-AAA-cc
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Leonese is a set of vernacular Romance dialects spoken in the northern and western portions of the historical region of León in Spain (the modern provinces of León, Zamora, and Salamanca) and a few adjoining areas in Portugal. In this narrow sense Leonese is distinct from the dialects grouped under Asturian, although there is no clear linguistic division. The current number of Leonese speakers is estimated at 20,000 to 50,000. The westernmost fringes of the provinces of León and Zamora are in the territory of the Galician language, although there is dialectal continuity between the linguistic areas.

The Leonese and Asturian dialects have long been recognized as a single language, currently known as Astur-Leonese or Asturian-Leonese and formerly known as Leonese. For most of the 20th century, linguists (including Ramón Menéndez Pidal in his landmark 1906 study of the language) discussed a Leonese language (or historical dialect) descending from Latin and encompassing two groups: the Asturian dialects on one hand, and dialects spoken in the provinces of León and Zamora in Spain and a related dialect in Trás-os-Montes, Portugal, on the other hand. Unlike Asturian, the Leonese dialects of Spain are not officially promoted or regulated.

Menéndez Pidal used "Leonese" for the entire linguistic area, including Asturias. This designation has been replaced by Ibero-Romance scholars with "Asturian-Leonese", but "Leonese" is still often used to denote Asturian-Leonese by non-speakers of Asturian or Mirandese.

In Leonese, any of five vowel phonemes, /a, e, i, o, u/, may occur in stressed position and the two archiphonemes /I/, /U/ and the phoneme /a/ may occur in unstressed position.