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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).
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):
Map showing where Mirandês is still spoken 5).
Many cite 15.000 as the number of speakers of Mirandese; however, this is number is most likely too high, even though there is no certainty of how many speakers there really are. It is estimated that there should be around 5000 speakers in the region of Miranda do Douro, and, approximately, another 5000, maximum, of emigrants who still speak Mirandese. These numbers consider both fluent speakers, who speak Mirandese on a daily basis, and those who speak it infrequently or might even only have very basic knowledge of the language. If only the first group were to be counted, then these numbers would be quite lower 6).
Mirandese was until very late a language transmitted at home from generation to generation. Only in the eighties did the necessity to teach the language in school become pressing, 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 brought forward to the Ministry of Education, which requested permission to implement an optional course of Mirandese. This petition was denied by the Ministry with the justification that, legally, courses which were unfamiliar to the curricula taught in the whole country could not be introduced anywhere 7). Only in 1985 was it approved that a weekly, two-hour, optional course of Mirandese for the 5th and 6th grades be implemented in 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 only in 2000 11) and the first courses for 7th to 9th graders only opened in 2002/2003, for preschoolers and 1st to 4th graders in 2004/2005, and only two years later for secondary school students 12).
In 1999, the Portuguese Parliament officially recognized linguistic rights to the Mirandese community 13), which recognizes, among others, the following:
Later that year, the Legislative Order No. 35/99 further decrees that 14):
In fact, this law only ratified what had already been approved in 1985 15).
The Portuguese Constitution does not mention the Mirandese language. And Portugal has not signed the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
Even though Mirandese has been taught in schools for 30 years teaching materials and training for teachers of Mirandese is scarce 16). However, in more recents, a few steps have been taken to change this. On the 25th of September 2017 a protocol was signed a protocol 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 of this language and ensure the possibility of continued teaching of this course in schools 17).
There are some books for children, frequently used as school books for the younger, resulting from the collection of Mirandese short stories that were transmitted orally, by the author Duarte Martins, teacher of Mirandese in the School Group of Miranda do Douro, in collaboration with illustrators and designers 18).
Enrollments in the Course of Mirandese Language and Culture in the School Group of Miranda do Douro 19)
|Year||Preschool||1st to 4th grades||5th and 6th grades||7th to 9th grades||Secondary school|
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 to train teachers 20).
There used to be a course of Mirandese at the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, but it has unfortunately been abandoned 21).
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.
Miranda do Douro has a Portuguese-Mirandese dictionary.
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