Portuguese-Galician (in Portuguese and Galician is known as Galaico-Português) was a Iberian Romance language, spoken in the Middle Ages, in the western area of the Iberian Peninsula. It came via Vulgar Latin. The language was spoken, at first, from the Cantabric Sea to Douro River. But it extended south with the Portuguese Reconquista.
The Portuguese-Galician had a special cultural role in the Christian kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula and the literature it produced is a proof of that. You can compare it to the role of Occitan in the Mediterranean coast.
The three Portuguese-Galician medieval lyrics compositions remaining are:
- Cancioneiro de Ajuda
- Cancioneiro de Vaticana
- Cancioneiro Colocci-Brancutti (or Biblioteca Nacional)
Some known poets were: Bernardo de Bonaval, Arias Nunes, Pedro da Ponte, Pero Amigo. At first and until 1350, Portuguese-Galician was the only known and standard written native language in the Christian peninsula. The Castilian king Alfonso X, composed his Cantigas de Santa Maria and the Cantigas de Escarnio e Maldizer in Galician-Portuguese, his favourite language for poetry. The Portuguese king, Portuguese-Diniz also wrote his Cantigas and declared Portuguese as an Official language in 1290. Until then Classical Latin was the official language of Portugal. Then, the spoken language did not have a name, was simply known as Língua Vulgar (Vulgar language or Vulgar Latin).
The term Portuguese-Galician is a modern invention. This language had its maximum expression in the final years of the 12th century until the 14th century in Spain. Since 1400, the Portuguese-Galician lost its unity when Castilian authorities prohibited the use of the language and the Galician version of the language became influenced by Spanish, what is still happening today. The most important (at the time) Galician cities became independent with Portugal (Braga and Oporto), with the exception of Santiago de Compostela. Galego language was preserved because those who spoke it were rural people or never went to school, where Spanish was taught. The language was only officially recognized in Spain in late 20th century, but it was heavily repressed till end of 20th century.
The linguistic division (or not) of both languages is still discussed today: there are those (mostly Galician and Portuguese philologists) who demand the reunification of the language.
The Galician version of the language is known to be in danger of extinction (even though it is still spoken by three million people in Galicia), while the Portuguese version continues to grow in use, and today is the sixth most spoken language in the world.
Portuguese-Galician is also known as (part of) Old Portuguese.
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