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Mirandês in Portugal

Language designations:

  • In the language itself: Mirandés
  • ISO 639-3 standard: mwl

Language vitality according to:

Linguistic aspects:

  • Classification: Indo-European → Italic. For more information, see mira1251 at Glottolog
  • Script: Latin

Listen to the language here and here

Language standardization

A standardized ortography was created in 1999 in a joint effort by the Town Council of Miranda do Douro and the CLUL (Center for Linguistics of the University of Lisbon)1).


Language Area

Mirandese is spoken in the municipality of Miranda do Douro, as well as, in the municipality of Vimioso, in the district of Bragança, in the northeast corner of Portugal, near the border with Spain 2).


There are three varieties of Mirandese 3):

  • Central or standard Mirandese: taken as the standard by the Mirandese Language Ortographic Convention;
  • Sendinês or southern Mirandese, which is characterized by particular phonetic feautures (reason why there is an addendum to the Mirandese Language Ortographic Convention 4) regarding this particular dialect).
  • Border or northern Mirandese, which is distinguished mostly by some morphological differences.

Map showing where Mirandês is still spoken 5).

Speaker numbers

Many cite 15.000 as the number of speakers of Mirandese; however, this is number is most likely too high. It is estimated that there should be around 5000 speakers in the region of Miranda do Douro, and, approximately, another 5000, max, of emigrants who still speak Mirandese. These numbers include both fluent speakers, who speak Mirandese on a daily basis, and those who speak it infrequently and may have only very basic language skills.6).

Education of the language

History of language education:

Mirandese was until recently a language transmitted at home from generation to generation. Only in the eighties did the necessity to teach the language in school arise, also as a way to revitalize Mirandese. For this reason, in 1982 a petition by the management body of the Secondary School of Miranda do Douro was presented to the Ministry of Education, which requested permission to implement an optional course of Mirandese. This petition was denied by the Ministry which stated that, legally, courses that were not part of the national curriculum could not be introduced at specific locations 7). Only in 1985 a weekly, two-hour, optional course of Mirandese for the 5th and 6th grades was approved for the region of Miranda do Douro 8) and thus 1986/1987 were the first academic years in which Mirandese was taught at the Elementary School of Miranda do Douro 9).

Nowadays, Mirandese is taught in all years of study. However, it was only with the official recognition of the Mirandese language in 1999 that the instruction of Mirandese was regulated and extended to other schools, though still merely as an optional course 10). In Sendim, where one of the three dialects is spoken, the first courses of the Mirandese language for 5th and 6th graders started in 2000 11) and the first courses for 7th to 9th graders opened in 2002/2003, for preschoolers and 1st to 4th graders in 2004/2005, and two years later for secondary school students 12).

Legislation of language education

In 1999, the Portuguese Parliament officially recognized linguistic rights to the Mirandese community 13), which include, among others, the following:

  • The right to cultivate and promote the Mirandese language, as a culture, an instrument of communication and identity of the land of Miranda;
  • The right of the child to learn Mirandese is recognized;
  • The right to scientific and educational support, with a view to the training of teachers of the language and culture.

Later that year, the Legislative Order No. 35/99 further decrees that 14):

  • The students of the primary and secondary schools in the municipality of Miranda do Douro are provided with the learning of Mirandese, as part of the enrichment of the curriculum;
  • The availability of the offer referred to above is the responsibility of the primary and secondary schools in the municipality of Miranda do Douro, through the development of projects aimed at preserving and promoting the Mirandese language.

In fact, this law only ratified what had already been approved in 1985 15).

The Portuguese Constitution does not mention the Mirandese language.

Portugal has not signed the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, because “no regional or minority language is spoken in their territory”16)

Institutional support for education of the language:

Even though Mirandese has been taught in schools for 30 years, teaching materials and training of Mirandese language teachers is scarce 17). However, on the 25th of September 2017 a protocol was signed between the municipality of Miranda do Douro, the Ministry of Education and the University of Coimbra to reinforce the pilot project aimed at teaching and learning the Mirandese language and culture and in this way improve the training of teachers so that the continued teaching of this course in schools is ensured 18).

Language learning materials:

There are children's books by the author Duarte Martins, teacher of Mirandese in the School Group of Miranda do Douro, in collaboration with illustrators and designers 19)., frequently used as school books for the younger pupils, based on of a collection of orally transmitted Mirandese short stories.

Education presence

Enrollments in the Course of Mirandese Language and Culture in the School Group of Miranda do Douro 20)

Year Preschool 1st to 4th grades 5th and 6th grades 7th to 9th grades Secondary school
1996/1997 0 0 37 - -
1997/1998 0 0 26 - -
1998/1999 0 0 (Not available) - -
1999/2000 0 0 55 - -
2000/2001 0 0 36 - -
2001/2002 0 0 20 - -
2002/2003 0 0 31 55 0
2003/2004 0 0 29 51 0
2004/2005 55 101 33 55 0
2005/2006 25 56 41 43 0
2006/2007 61 148 27 59 28
2007/2008 70 130 47 55 22
2008/2009 71 120 38 57 39
2009/2010 75 122 33 49 27
2010/2011 80 180 60 80 18
2011/2012 121 170 72 62 10
2012/2013 132 183 69 88 25
2013/3014 114 179 59 95 25
2014/2015 85 182 60 77 25
2015/2016 95 188 63 78 34

As can be seen in these tables, Mirandese is taught in all years until university. It is still an optional, extra-curricular course, which could explain why in secondary school there are so few students enrolled in the course. It is only taught for an hour a week, and, in general, there is a lack of suitable materials, as well as a lack of support for teacher training 21).

There used to be a course of Mirandese at the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, but it has unfortunately been abandoned 22).

However, there are several organizations that provide courses every once in a while: Associçon de la Lhéngua i Cultura Mirandes, Casa de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro em Lisboa and Scuola Mirandesa de l Porto. And additionally the Universidade Sénior de Miranda do Douro (Senior University of Miranda do Douro) offers a regular course of Mirandese Language.

Online learning resources

Miranda do Douro has a Portuguese-Mirandese dictionary.

Manuela Barros Ferreira and Domingos Raposo, Convenção Ortográfica da Língua Mirandesa (1999), Câmara Municipal de Miranda do Douro e Centro de Linguística da Universidade de Lisboa, <> [accessed 03 December 2017]
Alberto Gómez Bautista, 'Contributo para uma história do asturo-leonês em Portugal/Contribution to a history of Astur-Leonese in Portugal', Lletres Asturianes, 115, (2016), 89-102.
3) , 6) , 9) , 11) , 17) , 21) , 22)
Amadeu Ferreira, O Mínimo sobre a língua mirandesa (2010), <> [accessed 14 November 2017]
Manuela Barros Ferreira and Rita Marquilhas, Adendas à Convenção (2000), Câmara Municipal de Miranda do Douro e Centro de Linguística da Universidade de Lisboa, <> [accessed 03 December 2017]
7) , 8)
Abílio Domingos Raposo, 'Ansino de l mirandés', in Estudos mirandeses: balanço e orientações. Homenagem a António Maria Mourinho, ed. by José Francisco Meirinhos (Estarreja: Riagráfica, 1999), pp. 99-107.
Rosa Ramos, Língua Mirandesa (2013), <> [accessed 4 December 2017]
Margarete Silva, Língua mirandesa, ou a revitalização de uma língua em vias de desaparecimento (Master's thesis), (Vila Real: Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, 2017), <> [accessed 12 November 2017]
Portuguese Parliament, Law no. 7/99 (from 29th January). Reconhecimento oficial de direitos linguísticos da comunidade mirandesa. (1999), Diário da República I série, no. 24, <> [accessed 13 November 2017]
Ministry of Education, Legislative Order No. 35/99 (from 20th July). (1999), Diário da República I série, no. 167, <> [accessed 3 December 2017]
Paulo Feytor Pinto, 'Educação e diversidade linguística em Portugal', Mediações – Revista OnLine da Escola Superior de Educação do Instituto Politécnico de Setúbal, 5.1, (2017), 36-43.
Berényi, J. (2010, October 21). The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe
Rádio Brigantia, Criada formação de professores de mirandês para garantir ensino da língua nas escolas (2017), <> [accessed 6 December 2017]
Notícias ao Minuto, Associação apresenta manuais escolares em língua mirandesa (2016), <> [accessed 6 December 2017]
Margarete Silva, Língua mirandesa, ou a revitalização de uma língua em vias de desaparecimento (Master's thesis), (Vila Real: Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, 2017), <> [accessed 12 November 2017]
languages/mirandes_in_portugal.txt · Last modified: 2020/10/05 10:25 by ydwine

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