Native to
RegionNortheast Iberia
Extinct16th century
Language codes
ISO 639-3
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Navarro-Aragonese was a Romance language once spoken in a large part of the Ebro River basin, south of the middle Pyrenees; the dialects of the modern Aragonese language, spoken in a small portion of that territory, can be seen as its last remaining forms. The areas where Navarro-Aragonese was spoken might have included most of Aragon, southern Navarre, and La Rioja. It was also spoken across several towns of central Navarre in a multilingual environment with Occitan, where Basque was the native language.

Navarro-Aragonese gradually lost ground throughout most of its geographic area to Castilian (i.e. Spanish), with its last remnants being the dialects of the Aragonese language still spoken in northern Aragon.

Origins and distribution

The language was not defined by clear-cut boundaries, but was rather a Romance language continuum spoken in the area extending north of the Muslim realms of the Ebro, under the influence of Mozarabic and Basque, towards the Pyrenees.[1] The Muwallad Banu Qasi, lords of Tudela in the 9th century, may have mostly spoken a variant of Navarro-Aragonese.[2] Early evidence of the language can be found in place-names like Murillo el Fruto attested as Murello Freito and Muriel Freito (stemming from Latin Murellus Fractus) and Cascante, Olite or Urzante with a typical restored -e ending after t in this area.[2]

The language is also attested in major towns of Navarre (including Estella and Pamplona) in a multilingual environment where Basque was the natural language, used by most of the people, Occitan was spoken by the Franks in their ethnic boroughs, while Hebrew was used for written purposes in the aljamas[3] along with Basque[4] and Navarro-Aragonese as vernaculars in their respective linguistic regions.

The Monastery of San Millan de la Cogolla in La Rioja is home to the oldest records in Navarro-Aragonese
Jaca in the Corridor of Berdún

At the westernmost tip of this middle Ebro stretch a Romance variant was developed in La Rioja, recorded in the Glosas Emilianenses dating from roughly 1000 AD. They have been diversely classified from "cradle of Spanish" to a Navarro-Aragonese variant, while it is widely accepted the glosses show more similarities with the latter.[5] However, political events were going to tip the scale in favour of an increasing assimilation to Spanish in the following centuries, especially after the disputed region was annexed to Castile in 1177 at the expense of Navarre. Another focal point for the emergence and expansion of Romance in High Aragon and eastern border of Navarre was the ancient Roman road and Way of St. James crossing the Pyrenees to the south from Gascony and extending west via Jaca through the Corridor of Berdún, while the territory was largely Basque-Romance bilingual in 1349.[6]

However, early Navarro-Aragonese speaking communities may have ebbed and become assimilated in some spots on the strength of a predominant Basque-speaking population (overwhelmingly so in Navarre) north away from the Ebro plains, due to demographic, economic and political shifts, e.g. the eastern borders of Navarre in Leire, Sangüesa, Liédena, Romanzado altogether, were densely Basque-speaking in mid and late 16th century.[7] Navarro-Aragonese had a strong Basque substratum and adstratum, the former being in close contact with Basque, which in turn was rapidly losing ground to the Romance language in the Kingdom of Aragon during the High and Late Middle Ages.

Status and written language

Navarro-Aragonese was chosen in the High Middle Ages by the Navarrese aristocracy and royal institutions for official records and documents in the 14th century,[8] when Occitan variants fell into disuse after the last devastating war among boroughs in Pamplona, dubbing it ydiomate navarre terrae or lengoage de Navarra (as opposed to the lingua navarrorum, the Basque language).[9][10] Navarro-Aragonese is a modern term coined for linguistic classification purposes, while its speakers may have referred to it as "Romanz(e) (Aragonés/Navarro)" in the Middle Ages.

San Juan de la Peña, a landmark in the expansion of Romance in Aragón

The language's features at this last stage in the 14th and 15th century grew closer to those of Castilian, showing a clear trend towards convergence, as attested in the telling opening sentence of Charles II of Navarre at his coronation ceremony (1350): "Nos Karlos, por la gracia de Dios, rey de Navarra et conté d'Evreux, juramos a nuestro pueblo de Navarra, es assaber, prelados, ricoshombres, cavailleros, hombres de buenas villas et a todo el pueblo de Navarra, todos lures fueros, usos, costumbres, franquezas, libertades."[11]

Eventual development

The language gradually merged with Castillian (Spanish) around the 15th and early 16th century in Navarre, while it further survived in Aragon, eventually developing into Aragonese, expanding south along with the Crown of Aragon's lands conquered to the kingdoms in Al-Andalus, and reaching at one point as far south as Murcia,[12] while the Mediterranean coastal strip came to be settled by Catalan speakers. These geo-linguistic gains could not prevent Navarro-Aragonese from gradually losing ground to Spanish both territorially and socially after the Trastámara dynasty's access to the Aragonese crown[13] and the 1469 wedding between Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, who favoured Spanish in the royal court. However, some varieties of the language, now called Aragonese language have survived in northern Aragon as a vernacular, increasingly confined to the higher Pyrenees.


The vocabulary below illustrates the language's Romance roots, its relationship to neighbouring languages (adstratum, and possibly also as substratum in the case of Basque), as well as meanings in English.[14]

Navarro-Aragonese Béarnese (Occitan) Spanish Catalan Basque English
ome òmi hombre home gizon man
muyller/muger hemna, dauna mujer muller, dona emazte, emakume woman
casa ostau/casa/maison casa casa etxe house
arb/arbor arbe/arbo arbol arbre zuhaitz, arbola tree
aquest(i) aqueste este aquest hau this
areyto dret derecho, de pie dret, dempeus zuzen, tente, zutik straight, standing
car/quar per' mor, pr'amor porque perquè -lako, -gatik, (...) bait, zeren because
canba camba pierna cama hanka, zango leg
cayll carrera calle carrer kale, karrika street
cuylir préner, gahar coger collir, prendre hartu take (collect)
dreytos drets derechos drets eskubideak rights
exir/ixir sortir, eishir, gessir, salhir salir sortir, eixir irten/jalgi/elk(h)i exit, get out
faya destrau hacha destral aizkora axe
feyto hèit hecho fet egina done/made
ferme hidança fianza fiança berme deposit
huey uei hoy avui gaur today
lueyn luenh lejos lluny urrun, urruti far
lur/lures lor/lors; lo son/los sons; eth son/eths sons su/sus llur/llurs; llura/llures; els seus/les seves haien, beren their
miyor/migor miélher/melhor mejor millor hobe better
Nadal Nadau Navidad Nadal Eguberri Christmas
noch/nueyt nueit noche nit gau night
pluvia ploja lluvia pluja euri rain
poçon/pozon bevuda/beguda bebida beguda edari drink
remanir demorar permanecer romandre gelditu remain
seteno setau séptimo setè zazpigarren seventh
soz/soç devath, jus bajo sota -ren pean/azpian under/below
veyendo vedent viendo veient ikusten seeing

See also


  1. ^ Elvira (coord.), Javier (2008). Lenguas, Reinos y Dialectos en la Edad Media Ibérica: La Construcción de la Identidad; Homenaje a Juan Ramón Lodares. Iberoamericana Ed. Vervuert. p. 523. ISBN 978-84-8489-305-9.
  2. ^ a b Caro Baroja, Julio (1985). Los vascones y sus vecinos. San Sebastian: Editorial Txertoa. p. 115. ISBN 84-7148-136-7.
  3. ^ Jurio, Jimeno (1995). Historia de Pamplona y de sus Lenguas. Tafalla: Txalaparta. pp. 82, 138, 175–177. ISBN 84-8136-017-1.
  4. ^ Sainz Pezonaga, Jabier (May–August 2003). "Antroponimia Medieval Euskérica en la Navarra Tudelana". Fontes Linguae Vasconum: Studia et Documenta. Gobierno de Navarra; Institución Príncipe de Viana. 1 (93): 371. ISSN 0343-6993.
  5. ^ Wolf, Hanz Jürgen (1997). "Las Glosas Emilianenses, Otra Vez". Revista de Filología Románica. Madrid: Servicio de Publicaciones. Universidad Complutense. 1 (14): 597–604. ISSN 0212-999X.
  6. ^ Jurio, Jimeno (1997). Navarra: Historia del Euskera. Tafalla: Txalaparta. pp. 59–60. ISBN 978-84-8136-062-2.
  7. ^ "Romanzado; Lengua". EuskoMedia Fundazioa. Retrieved 2010-01-29. Site in Spanish
  8. ^ González Olle, Fernando (1987). "Reconocimiento del Romance Navarro bajo Carlos II (1350)". Príncipe de Viana. Gobierno de Navarra; Institución Príncipe de Viana. 1 (182): 705. ISSN 0032-8472.
  9. ^ "Lingua Navarrorum" (PDF). Basque Government. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  10. ^ Ciervide, Ricardo (1998). "El euskera en la Navarra Medieval en su Contexto Románico". Fontes Linguae Vasconum. Gobierno de Navarra; Institución Príncipe de Viana. 1 (79): 508. ISSN 0046-435X.
  11. ^ González Olle, Fernando (1987). "Reconocimiento del Romance Navarro bajo Carlos II (1350)". Príncipe de Viana. Gobierno de Navarra; Institución Príncipe de Viana. 1 (182): 706. ISSN 0032-8472.
  12. ^ Elvira (coord.), Javier (2008). Lenguas, Reinos y Dialectos en la Edad Media Ibérica: La Construcción de la Identidad; Homenaje a Juan Ramón Lodares. Iberoamericana Ed. Vervuert. p. 57. ISBN 978-84-8489-305-9.
  13. ^ Elvira (coord.), Javier (2008). Lenguas, Reinos y Dialectos en la Edad Media Ibérica: La Construcción de la Identidad; Homenaje a Juan Ramón Lodares. Iberoamericana Ed. Vervuert. pp. 40–41. ISBN 978-84-8489-305-9.
  14. ^ Spanish, Basque, and English meaning refer to present-day forms. Béarnese refers to modern attested forms (19th–20th centuries), while Navarro-Aragonese refers to the Late Middle Ages, so no synchrony can be established. Orthography delivered according to traditional usage, not actual phonetics.