Fala, A Galician-Portuguese Language of Spain

Three videos showcase Fala, a Galician-Portuguese language spoken in the Xalima Valley in Spain in Caceres near the Portuguese border. All evidence indicates that this is a dialect of Galician from a movement of Galicians to the area in the 1300’s.

Subsequently, the group became isolated from the rest of the Galician population and the lect underwent independent development, especially strong influence from Asturian-Leonese in the form of the Extremaduran language. So we have an archaic Galician dialect with strong Extremaduran influence. Presently, Castillian speakers say they are completely lost listening to this language.

Portuguese speakers fare better, but intelligibility is not full even for them. However, there is full intelligibility with the Galician language spoken in the northwest of Spain.

Oddly enough, about 95% of the residents of this rustic valley continue to speak this language, from elders all the way down to young children. Everyone is bilingual in Castillian, which is learned in school. Castillian is used with outsiders; Fala is used with residents among themselves.

Recent attempts were made to adopt the Galician standard for writing Fala but these were rejected by Fala speakers as the Galician standard is not close to what they speak. As far as what protection Fala has, this is uncertain. Certainly it is not an official language of Spain as Galician is, and it is probably not included in the Galician as official standard.

The first video is a very well done documentary on the language. If you cover up the subtitles, it’s almost impossible to make sense of what they are speaking.

In the second video, there are no subtitles, and the language is quite incomprehensible. The narrator appears to be speaking Fala, but he may be speaking a more watered down version of it. I could understand some of what he was saying but certainly not all of it. The Castillian man he interviews is much more intelligible.

The last video is apparently of two Fala-speaking women who are being interviewed. They are apparently responding in Fala. The first time I watched this video I was lost. I have since watched it a few more times, and I can now pick up some of what she is saying. Notice that the language has a strong Portuguese flavor. I am not sure what language the narrator is speaking to them in. Possibly Castillian?

The narrator somehow seems to understand them although he is not a Fala speaker. He says he is a speaker of Bierzo Leonese spoken in the Bierzo region of Leon near the Galician border. This Leonese lect borders on a Galician dialect (Berciano) spoken to the west in the same province.

Bierzo Leonese has strong Galician influence, and Berciano Galician has heavy Leonese influence. Berciano Galician is doing quite well, but Bierzo Leonese is not doing so well, as is the case with the Leonese language across the board.

If you speak Spanish, Portuguese or both, see how well you can understand Fala.

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Filed under Europe, Galician, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Leonese, Linguistics, Portuguese, Regional, Romance, Spain, Spanish

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