A younger generation, among the inhabitants of Miranda do Douro, shows hope for the survival of the Mirandese language and calls for the safeguarding of this language that could be lost within 20 years, according to a study by the University of Vigo.
The report by the Lusa agency in this municipality in the district of Bragança found “young people who are passionate about the Mirandese language and culture”, who feel “freer” for speaking Mirandese and who say that “it’s cool” to learn it, despite that their age group is the most affected by the factors that put this language at risk.
Mirandese, however, is in a “very critical” situation, due to the abandonment of this way of speaking by public and private entities, according to the conclusions of a study carried out by the University of Vigo (UVigo), in Spain, revealed by Lusa in the last February.
Launched in the field in 2020, the study estimated at around 3,500 the number of people who know the language, with around 1,500 using it regularly, identifying a break with this language, especially in the younger generations, through a “strong linguistic portugalization”, based in particular on the profusion of the means of communication in recent decades, and on the identification of Mirandese with local rurality and poverty.
Businessman Henrique Granjo, 30, leader of the Associação Recreativa da Juventude Mirandesa, told Lusa that the study recently presented “is real” and “this threat” cannot be denied, but there is still time to counteract this trend that looms about Mirandese.
“There are young people who are passionate about the Mirandese language and culture. There are people who return to their origins and we are still going to contradict the trends revealed in this study. the entrepreneur and association leader.
Henrique Granjo also mentions that, if there is investment in safeguarding the Mirandese language over the next two decades, the situation could be safeguarded: “It is important to invest in sectors such as education and culture, which are the foundations for the preservation of Mirandese to which concrete measures must be added to dynamize the interior in order to circumvent the indications of the published study”.
Leonor Gomes and Leonor Martins are his young students in the 10th grade who are proud of their culture and language, as it is a cultural heritage of their ancestors, and feel vanity in speaking Mirandese, despite the fact that sometimes this way of communicating is not well understood by other groups of young people from other regions of the country.
“By speaking Mirandese I feel freer and more rural. I feel as if I were in the shoes of my grandparents and in the tranquility of a Mirandese village”, confessed Leonor Gomes.
Leonor Martins, for her part, asserts that she is used to older people always speaking in Mirandese and sometimes “it’s cool” to also learn the language.
The two young women show no doubts about the perpetuation of Mirandese and justify that it is a tradition that has roots in a past that is part of a unique cultural identity.
“It’s our origins, and we don’t want to lose them. It’s something that was born with us and is part of the history of our ancestors and our land, and we’re afraid that the Mirandese language will disappear, because more and more the language is not spoken in the day-to-day”, argue the young students, who also learn Mirandese at school.
Although they identify with the Mirandese language, the most natural thing for these two young women “is to speak Portuguese”.
On the reverse of the medal are the elderly and the abandonment of villages. If for the young people with whom Lusa spoke, Mirandese could still be saved, for the elderly, although the language is still part of their daily lives, condemnation seems to be imposed, with the disappearance of people from the border villages.
The depopulation of towns in the municipality of Miranda do Douro, such as São Martinho, Cicouro, Constantim, Aldeia Nova and Ifanes, limits Mirandese to the family environment and casual conversations between friends. And that is the perspective of its inhabitants.
It is around these parts, in the most inland part of Portugal, that Mirandese still maintains some expression, as recognized by Duarte Cristal, 63 years old, resident in São Martinho, who has always been saying how this language is part of his daily life. day, spoken in a family environment.
For this inhabitant of the Mirandese border, one of the main enemies of Mirandese is the low birth rate: “If there are no new generations of speakers, the Mirandese language could really be doomed” and not continue, “because of the abandonment of the villages by people looking for life elsewhere”.
Domingos Torrão, an octogenarian from Cicouro, made a point of answering Lusa’s questions in Mirandese.
“About two decades ago, Mirandese was well accepted. We spoke Mirandese a lot here on the border. Now, we are less and less, and at this rate, and despite being the second official language in Portugal, the risk is imminent”, stressed this speaker of the Mirandese language.
For UVigo, if the situation continues, “at this rate it is possible that the mirandês will die before [dos próximos] 30 years”, preserving itself only as “a liturgical Latin for celebrations”, without being “a language to live on a daily basis”, as read in the study that still does not have a date for official presentation.
The Mirandese language has been an official language in Portugal since January 29, 1999, the date on which the law that officially recognized the linguistic rights of the Mirandese community was published in the Diário da República.