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Native toSpain
RegionNW Extremadura
Native speakers
(11,000 cited 1994)[1]
Early forms
Language codes
ISO 639-3fax
Fala language is located in Spain
Fala language
Area of the Fala language.

Fala ("Speech", also called Xalimego[2]) is a Western Romance language commonly classified in the Galician-Portuguese subgroup, with some traits from Leonese, spoken in Spain by about 10,500 people, of whom 5,500 live in a valley of the northwestern part of Extremadura near the border with Portugal. The speakers of Fala live in the towns of Valverde del Fresno (Valverdi du Fresnu), Eljas (As Ellas) and San Martín de Trevejo (Sa Martín de Trevellu). These are within the valley of Jálama, in the comarca of Sierra de Gata.

Other names sometimes used for the language are Fala de Jálama or Fala de Xálima, but neither of them is used by the speakers themselves, who call their linguistic varieties lagarteiru (in Eljas), manhegu / mañegu (in San Martín de Trevejo) and valverdeiru (in Valverde del Fresno).[3]



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In the Middle Ages, mixed varieties of Portuguese and Leonese could be found along the border between Leon and Portugal, represented in texts such as the Foro de Castelo Rodrigo (13th century). Although there is no documentation on the colonization and repopulation of this area in the 13th century, there are several hypotheses of Galician citizens moving to protect the frontier against Muslims as a punishment imposed by the Leonese king, or the delivery of the territories to various military orders by Kings Alfonso IX and Fernando II.

In general, philologists in favor of the Galician theory support the hypothesis that the valley is an isolated region and, therefore, the Galician colonists maintain their way of speaking in a "pure" form because of the lack of external influences. However, the valley is contiguous to the Portuguese border, making it a good candidate to be classified into the lands exchanged by Castille and Portugal, by the Treaty of Alcanices. Previously, during the reconquista, the border had a snaky shape. The treaty was done to make it straighter, which broadly was achieved by delivering the Ribacoa to Portugal (Guarda, the ancient border post, is now 40 km westwards of the new one), and receiving the lands east of the Erges-Tagus-Sever rivers,[citation needed] 180 km of frontier delimitated by water-courses. The agreement among monarchs didn't force the populations to a re-settlement, so a few have changed of country, not by their own will, but due to the change of borders.

Toponymal evolution

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A sample of the main toponymal forms used in the Fala de Xálima, shows the following feature:


A sign in Spanish and Fala in San Martín de Trevejo

On August 3, 1992, the association Fala i Cultura was founded, among its goals being the compilation of a common grammar (based on the Galician one) and the commemoration of u día da nosa fala (the day of our language) celebrated once a year from 1992 in Eljas, 1993 in Valverde and 1994 in San Martín.[citation needed]

It was not until 1998 that the first literary work in Fala was published: Seis sainetes valverdeiros, written by Isabel López Lajas and published in 1998 by Edicións Positivas (Santiago de Compostela). It was on this date that the Gabinete de Iniciativas Transfronterizas (Office of Cross-Border Initiatives) started to take interest in Fala and to promote its study, publishing in 1999 scientific works and celebrating in May a "Congress on A Fala".[citation needed]

On June 14, 2000, Fala was recognized by the Ministry of Culture of the Junta de Extremadura as Bien de Interés Cultural.[4] Nowadays, although the inhabitants of Jalama Valley can speak Spanish, most of them are bilingual because at home and in other activities outside school, they continue using the local language.

Sociolinguistic surveys

In 1992,[5] a survey conducted by José Enrique Gargallo Gil (a professor at the University of Barcelona) collected the following data regarding the use of Spanish in family conversation:

In September/December 1993 a survey was published in issue No. 30 of Alcántara Magazine by José Luis Martín Galindo, which showed the opinion of the people in San Martín de Trevejo as to the nature of Fala in the following percentages:

The survey involved only twenty people (over 960 neighbours) and there was no alternative answer for those respondents who believed that Fala is a dialect of Galician. It is argued that the absence of this option was logical since theories about the possible relation of Fala with Galician were hardly known.

In 1994, a new study showed that 80% of respondents learned to speak Spanish in school. The percentage of parents who claim to use Fala when speaking with their children was as follows:


Consonant phonemes
  Bilabials Labiodentals Dentals Alveolars Postalveolars Palatals Velars
Nasals m n ɲ ŋ
Stops p b t d k g
Affricates t͡ʃ
Fricatives (β) f v (ð) s z ʃ ʒ (ɣ)
Trills r
Flaps ɾ
Approximants j w
Laterals l ʎ
Vowel phonemes
Anterior Posterior
Closed i u
Close-mid e o
Open a


One proposed alphabet has 23 letters: [6]

Upper case letters
Lower case letters
a b c d e f g h i j l m n o p q r s t u v x z

Comparative vocabulary

Some Fala vocabulary are shown in the table below.[7]

Latin Galician Fala Extremaduran Portuguese Spanish English
hodie hoxe hoxii hoy hoje hoy today
locus lugar lugal lugal lugar lugar place
dicere dicir izil izil dizer decir to say/to tell
oculus ollo ollu oju olho ojo eye
aqua auga agua áugua água agua water
creāre crear crial crial criar crear to create

See also


  1. ^ Fala at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ "Promotora Española de Lingüística". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  3. ^ newspaper La Vanguardia (8-6-2019): La fala, una lengua viva del norte de Extremadura (in Spanish)
  4. ^ "Decreto 45/2001, de 20 de marzo, por el que se declara bien de interés cultural la "A Fala"" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-10-06 – via
  5. ^ Gargallo Gil, José Enrique (1999). Las hablas de San Martín de Trevejo, Eljas y Valverde del Fresno. Trilogía de los tres lugares (in Spanish). Mérida: Editora Regional de Extremadura. ISBN 978-8-476-71494-2.
  6. ^ "Fala".
  7. ^ Galindo, José (1993). "Apuntes socio-históricos y lingüísticos sobre a Fala do Val de Xalima". Alcántara: Revista del Seminario de Estudios Cacereños (in Spanish). 30: 123–148.

Further reading

  • Gargallo Gil, José Enrique (2000). "¿Se habla gallego en Extremadura? Y otras cuestiones, no menos delicadas, sobre romances, gentes y tierras peninsulares de frontera (con sus nombres)". In Salvador Plans, Antonio; García Oliva, M.ª Dolores; Carrasco González, Juan M. (eds.). Actas del I Congreso sobre A Fala (in Spanish). Mérida: Editora Regional de Extremadura / Gabinete de Iniciativas Transfronterizas. pp. 53–73. ISBN 84-7671-570-6.
  • Valeš, Miroslav (2016). "A Fala: dimensión sociolingüística en las traducciones a una lengua minorizada" [A Fala: Sociolinguistic Dimension in Translations Into a Minority Language]. Mutatis Mutandis: Revista Latinoamericana de Traducción (in Spanish). 9 (2): 348–362.