Leonese language facts for kids

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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)
Language family
Indo-European I learning the Lenore language is very interesting
  • Italic
    • Romance
      • Western
        • Gallo-Iberian
          • Ibero-Romance
            • West Iberian
              • Asturian-Leonese
                • Leonese
Official status
Official language in As of 2010, has special status in the Spanish autonomous community of Castile and León
Linguasphere 51-AAA-cc

Leonese language (Llionés in Leonese) is the language of León in Spain and the Bragança District of Portugal, and it is one of the Romance languages. Leonese was the language of the Kingdom of León in the Middle Ages.


Leonese is spoken by 25,000 people in the Spanish provinces of León, Zamora and the Portuguese district of Bragança. Leonese is recognised by the UN as "Seriously Endangered" and officially recognised by the Autonomous Government.


Leonese is taught in sixteen schools in León city and there are lessons for adults in several villages in the provinces of León and Zamora.

Leonese grammar


The language has a system with five vowels in a stressed position, represented by a, e, i, o, and u and three (two archiphonemes /I/, /U/ and one phoneme /a/) in non-stressed position, represented by e, u, and a at the end of word.

Promotion of the language

For approximately fifteen years some cultural associations have offered courses in Leonese, sometimes with the support or collaboration of local administrations in the provinces of Leon and Zamora. The autonomous community of Castile and León has never collaborated in these courses, which in most cases have taken place in precarious conditions, without continuity or by unqualified teachers and, very often, far from the area where Leonese is spoken.

Endangered language

The UNESCO in its Atlas of Languages in Danger in the World, places Leonese among languages in danger.

Leonese is classified in the worst of the possible situations whose characteristics are:

  • Non-official language.
  • No presence in the means of communication.
  • Low level of knowledge and use.
  • Low social consideration of the language.
  • Absence of the language in the school.
  • Toponymy without normalizing.

Leonese and other Romance languages

Leonese Portuguese French Italian Venetian Spanish Latin English
facere fazer faire fare fare hacer facere make
fiyu filho fils figlio fiolo hijo filius son
fame fome faim fame fame hambre fames hunger
gochu porco cochon maiale porselo cerdo sus pig
vieyu velho vieux vecchio vecio viejo vetus old
chovere chover pleuvoir piovere piòvare llover pluere rain

English and Leonese words

English Leonese
Numbers Númberos
one unu
two dous (m), duas (f)
three tres
four cuatru
five cincu
six seis
seven siete
eight ochu
nine nueve
ten diez


Literature written in the Leonese dialect started in the Middle Ages and is still written today. The first written text in Leonese is the Nodicia of Kesos (959 or 974), found in Ardón. Other works in Leonese language include the Fueru de Llión, Fueru de Salamanca, Fueru Xulgu, Códice d'Alfonsu XI, Disputa d'Elena y María and Llibru d'Alixandre.

Important writers are Torres Naharro, Juan del Encina, and Lucas Fernández. Some writers like Caitano Bardón (Cuentos en Dialecto Leonés), Luis Maldonado or Aragón Escacena (Entre brumas) restarted the Leonese literature in the early 20th century. Today, important writers include Eva González in the last 20th century or Abel Pardo, Xuasús González, Adrianu Martín or Félix Llópez.

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Leonese language Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.