The Asturian Language

Distinctiveness, Identity, and Officiality

by Avelino Corral Esteban (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 220 Pages


This volume is composed of papers presented at the 1st. International Conference on the
Asturian Language, which took place on 27 – 28 April 2022 at the Universidad Autónoma
de Madrid. Said papers cover a wide range of disciplines related to the subject: education,
historical linguistics, syntax, phonology, lexis, sociolinguistics, and literature, all focused
upon the three central themes around which the conference revolved: the distinctiveness
of the Asturian language, its intimate relationship with the Asturian identity, and
the absolute necessity of insisting upon its status as an official Romance language so as
to ensure its preservation and revitalization. On the occasion of the imminent public
debate upon the question of its official status, this volume aims to serve as a tribute to
all those who made it possible to reach this crucial stage. Hopefully it will also become
a contributing factor in conferring upon Asturian the prominence it deserves.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Dedication
  • Preface
  • List of contributors
  • Table of contents
  • Chapter 1 The long and winding road towards the co-officiality of the Asturian Language (Avelino Corral Esteban)
  • Chapter 2 La presencia escolar de la Lengua Asturiana: luces y sombras de su contribución al proceso de recuperación lingüística en Asturies. (Xosé Antón González Riaño)
  • Chapter 3 La llingüística y les llingües minorizaes (Ramón d’Andrés Díaz)
  • Chapter 4 Acercamientos glotopolíticos: el caso del asturiano (Carmen Ainoa Martinez Cuervo)
  • Chapter 5 Lujos identitarios y la cooficialidad del asturiano (Covadonga Lamar Prieto)
  • Chapter 6 Actitudes lingüísticas entre los jóvenes de La Pola Siero (Cristina Bleorțu y Miguel Cuevas-Alonso)
  • Chapter 7 “Les perres del bable”: representaciones sociodiscursives d’un prexuiciu en Twitter (Gonzalo Llamedo Pandiella)
  • Chapter 8 La música asturiana y el uso del asturiano en redes sociales (Isabel Álvarez Sancho)
  • Chapter 9 El despliegue del asturiano en los medios de comunicación: entre la información y el activismo (Covadonga Martínez Sánchez)
  • Chapter 10 Estudio sociolingüístico del asturiano en el siglo XVI y XVII (Lourdes Guadalupe Montes Hernández)
  • Chapter 11 Señaldá y el fútbol de antes, la identidad futbolística de una lengua ()
  • Chapter 12 “¿Quién yes?”: La identidá asturiana en «L’home les caparines» de Blanca Fernández (Matthew Stephen Stuckwisch)
  • Chapter 13 El comienzu del Franquismu y l’asturianu: L’afitamientu de los bandos (Inaciu Galán y González)
  • Chapter 14 Ideoloxíes llingüístiques y borráu del asturianu nel periodu d’entesieglos. Análisis críticu d’una nota poco conocida de Ramón Menéndez Pidal (David Guardado Diez)
  • Chapter 15 Delles reflexones sobre la edición de la poesía inédita n’asturianu de Fernán-Coronas (Adrián Martínez Expósito)
  • Chapter 16 El papel de la literatura en la recuperación del patsuezu (María Méndez Arrais)
  • Chapter 17 Las perífrasis verbales en asturiano: una aproximación contrastiva con el español (Taresa Fernández Lorences)
  • Chapter 18 Forms of address in Asturian and other Asturian-Leonese varieties (Xavier Frías Conde)
  • Chapter 19 El mirandés y el asturiano: ¿una lengua, dos vías de la evolución fonética? (Michał Belina)
  • Chapter 20 El asturiano: tipología y política (Michael Metzeltin)

Avelino Corral Esteban

Chapter 1 The long and winding road towards the co-officiality of the Asturian Language

Abstract: On the occasion of the imminent official status of the Asturian language and as a tribute to all those who, with their tireless effort and passionate dedication for so many years, have made it possible for us to reach this moment, the 1st International Conference on the Asturian Language was held at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in April 2022. The present collection of chapters therefore derives from the presentations that took place in that conference and, from different perspectives, such as education, historical linguistics, syntax, phonology, lexis, sociolinguistics, or literature, addresses the three central themes on which the conference revolved: the distinctiveness of the Asturian language, the intimate relationship between the Asturian language and the Asturian identity, and its necessary recognition as an official language so that this Romance language can be preserved and revitalized.

Keywords: Asturias, Asturian language, distinctiveness, identity, officiality


Like many other European languages​, the Asturian language has been in danger (Moseley, 2010) for a long time. This is mainly due to the influence of Castilian Spanish and the lack of institutional support, especially by the political elite. Despite considerable efforts made to preserve and revitalize this language, culminating in the completion of the codification process (Haugen, 1966) of its standard variety (Tolivar, 1988; Cano González, 2006; Guardado, 2008; Andrés Díaz, 2018a & b), as reflected in the founding of the Academia de la Llingua Asturiana (ALLA) in 1980 and the publication of «Normes ortográfiques y entamos de normalización» (ALLA, 1981), «Gramática de la Llingua Asturiana» (GLA) (ALLA, 1998), «Diccionariu de l’Academia de la Llingua Asturiana» (DALLA) (ALLA, 2000), and even «Diccionariu etimolóxicu de la Llingua Asturiana» (DELLA) (García Arias, 2021), it has not yet achieved recognition as a co-official language within Asturias. This institutional neglect and disregard of the Asturian language is manifestly intentional and deliberately fuelled by economic and political interests since, from a linguistic point of view, pace those who marginalize and stigmatize Asturian by claiming the contrary, there is no doubt that it is a language as opposed to a dialect.

Unfortunately, no text written in Asturian prior to the 11th century has ever been discovered, with the first traces of Asturian literature dating to the 17th century (Cano et al., 1996; Ramos Corrada, 2002; Viejo Fernández, 2004; García Arias, 2013; Busto Cortina, 2017; Ramos Corrada & Iglesias Cueva, 2018; among others), for a long time now different academic disciplines, such as linguistics, history, and geography, have confirmed that Asturian evolved from the vulgar Latin of the early Middle Ages spoken in the medieval kingdoms of Asturias and León. Additionally, despite having been strongly influenced by the expansion of the Castilian language in the region from the 14th century onwards (García y Bellido, 1967; Diego Santos, 1977; Fernández Ochoa, 1995; Viejo Fernández, 2003 & 2008; among others), there is irrefutable evidence that Asturian still has its own phonological, lexical, and morpho-syntactic characteristics (Menéndez Pidal, 1906; Andrés Díaz, 1997, 2013 & 2019; ALLA, 1998; García Arias, 2003; among others). This means that it is, in fact, a Romance language and is indeed widely recognized as such by the international academic community1. It is therefore incomprehensible that political and economic criteria – and not exclusively historical, linguistic, literary, and geographical criteria – are continually being used here in Spain to assess the linguistic status of Asturian, even to the point of unjustifiably breaching one of the precepts of the Spanish Constitution (1978)2, more specifically Article 3.2, which stipulates not only that Castilian is the official language of the State, but also that the other Spanish languages ​will also be recognized as official in their respective Autonomous Communities. This is a condition that has not yet been met in Asturias and is crucial for the survival of the language, since it is only through the recognition of its official status that is it possible to protect it and, consequently, to guarantee a fundamental right enshrined in the Spanish Constitution. Likewise, through the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages (1992)3 the European Union encourages the protection of minority languages by adhering to the conviction that linguistic diversity is a social good. Thus, if (Castilian) Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Catalan, Asturian, or Galician, for example, are all Romance languages and, consequently, Latin dialects, why are some political groups still reluctant to consider Asturian as a language like the others and recognize it as the co-official language in the region where it originated, developed, and is still spoken by approximately 62 % of Asturians – between 100,000 and 200,000 native speakers and between 400,000 and approximately 650,000 bilingual speakers – (Llera Ramo, 2017) unlike Catalan in Catalonia or Galician in Galicia, for example?

In order to reverse this unjustifiable situation, the Asturian-speaking community has worked hard for the preservation and revitalization of their local language and has sought its official recognition for decades. While the first attempts to protect and promote the use of the Asturian language may be traced back to Jovellanos at the end of the 18th century, it was only in the 1970s that the movement for the officiality of the Asturian language gained momentum with the creation of the cultural association Conceyu Bable in 1976, which resolutely and enthusiastically fought for the recovery, promotion, and dignity of the Asturian language and its inclusion in the educational system through an intense cultural protest movement. During the decades that followed, after Basque and other Romance languages like Galician and Catalan had obtained the status of official languages, the demands of the movement for officiality, supported by institutions such as Academia de la Llingua Asturiana and associations like Xunta pola Defensa de la Llingua Asturiana and Iniciativa pol Asturianu, focused on achieving the official recognition for this ancestral autochthonous language – which was denied in the Statute of Autonomy of Asturias (1981) – based on the idea that Asturian deserves to be treated like other languages in Spain, that it must be included within the educational system, and that achieving its official status is crucial to ensuring its survival (González Riaño & San Fabián, 1996; González Riaño, 2002 & 2019; González Riaño & Fernández Costales, 2014; González Riaño et al., 2018), as the current Law on Use of the Asturian Language (1998) is not able to guarantee the linguistic rights of the Asturian people (ALLA, 2002).

The problem is that the monumental effort to achieve official status for Asturian has received continuous objections and criticism from some political groups throughout this time. This criticism, which has proved to be unfounded, is very diverse in nature, as it is not only related to historical-linguistic factors but is also based on social, economic, and political grounds, as discussed above. Firstly, there is an alleged, but misinformed, lack of social awareness among the Asturian people in recognizing the identity of their language and culture, which clearly ignores the results of multiple social surveys that affirm that Asturians speak their native language and wish to protect it, as they consider that its survival is crucial for the preservation of their identity as Asturians (García Arias, 2005; Llera Ramo, 1991 & 2017). Secondly, criticism also relates to the questionably disproportionate expenditure that officiality will involve, although it seems to ignore the important positive impact that it will have on the economy of the region (Alba Alonso, 2018). Finally, specific political groups, probably willing to politicize this issue, warn us of an ill-founded connection between the co-officiality status and the rise of nationalism or excuses like the groundless lack of rights that citizens not speaking Asturian will have in the administration, not seeming to understand that Asturians´ claim for co-officiality must disassociate itself from separatist nationalism in Asturias, and that Asturians wish not only to respect the right of the Spanish speakers but also to make the standardized form of Asturian compatible with that of other varieties of their language.

This controversy has resulted in the illogical about-turns of some political parties, which have conducted alternate campaigns for or against the co-official status of the Asturian language in different elections and the continuous confrontation between the left and the centre-right parties, which is reflected in the unsuccessful negotiations to reform the Statute of Autonomy of Asturias with the aim of including the co-official status of Asturian. Despite this, the reform of the Statute of Autonomy requires a majority of 27 of the 45 seats in the regional Parliament, and, taking into account the fact that the parties promoting the proposal have 26 seats, everything seems to indicate that, if an agreement is not reached beforehand, the long-awaited co-official status could be achieved in the next regional elections due to be held in May 2023.

What is clear is that the existence of all these problems has not been able to dissuade those who claim that the Asturian language deserves a similar treatment to that of other languages like Basque, Catalan, and Galician. Rather, it has helped to retrieve the prestige of Asturian and has meant that an increasing number of people understand and support the idea that, like any other language in the world, Asturian represents an intangible heritage that needs to be preserved, maintained, and transmitted to future generations.

For this reason, both the 1st. International Conference on the Asturian Language: Distinctiveness, Identity, and Officiality, which took place on 27–28 April 2022 in Madrid, and this volume, which derives from the contributions made to that conference, serve as a tribute to all those who made it possible to get to this point and will certainly very soon make it possible to achieve the long-awaited consideration of Asturian as an official language. The present collection of papers, all of which were presented at the conference, represents a continued investigation in a number of different areas, as is reflected in the eclectic nature of the themes covered in the papers, which include the link between education, the standardization process, and the claim for officiality (chapters 2 and 3), sociolinguistics (chapters 412), literature (chapters 1316), or different areas of linguistics (morphosyntax, phonetics / phonology, or lexis) (chapters 1719), with the final chapter offering a general view of the three main themes of the volume, that is, the distinctiveness of the Asturian language, its reflection on the identity of Asturians, and the issue of official status, all of which give the book its name. The remainder of this chapter offers a brief summary of each contribution.


Spanish; Castilian
Publication date
2023 (June)
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2023. 220 p., 20 il. blanco/negro.

Biographical notes

Avelino Corral Esteban (Volume editor)

Avelino Corral Esteban is a Senior Lecturer in Linguistics in the Department of English Philology at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, where he teaches courses on Syntax, Information Structure, and Historical Linguistics. His principal research interest is the syntax-semantics-pragmatics interface, which he explores on the basis of evidence gathered from endangered Native American languages and lesser-known languages belonging to the Romance, Germanic, and Celtic language families. He has researched and published in such areas as theoretical linguistics, comparative linguistics, language typology, and historical linguistics.


Title: The Asturian Language