Asturian, Leonese, Astur-Leonese or Bable (Asturianu in Asturian, Llïonés in
Leonese) is a Romance language spoken in some parts of the provinces of
Asturias, León, Zamora and Salamanca in Spain, and in the area of Miranda de
Douro in Portugal (where it is officially recognized as Mirandese). In
Asturias it is protected under the Autonomous Status legislation and is an
optional language at schools. There was a diglossia conflict between
Asturian and Spanish, which resulted in some scholars considering it a
dialect of Spanish. However, nowadays it is considered a separate language.
The language developed from Latin with contributions from the pre-Roman
languages which were spoken in the territory of the Astures, an ancient
tribe of the Iberian peninsula.
Much effort has been made since 1980 to protect and promote Asturian. In
1994 there were 100,000 first language speakers, and 450,000 second language
speakers able to speak or understand Asturian. However, the situation of
Asturian is critical, with a large decline in the number of speakers in the
last 100 years. Portugal has taken a further step in protecting this
language by recognizing it.
At the end of the 20th century, the Academia de la Llingua Asturiana made
efforts to provide the language with most of the tools needed by a language
to ensure its survival: a grammar, a dictionary, and periodicals. A new
generation of Asturian writers both in Asturias and in León have also
championed the language. These developments give the Asturian / Leonese
language a greater hope of survival.