Last week we mentioned some of the regional dialects which exist in Spain today. The region of Galicia in the northwest of Spain is one region where a distinct local dialect is spoken as a first language by around 56% of the population. This area includes the cities of La Coruña, Vigo and the capital Santiago de Compostela. During the Franco regime, it was forbidden to speak Galician in public, but the language was not to be suppressed and it has enjoyed official status in the region, alongside Castilian, since 1978.
As well as a language of its own, Galicia also has a number of cultural differences from the rest of Spain, which are often thought to be Celtic in origin. For example, at a Galician festival you can hear bagpipes (galleta galleo) and see pipers dressed in costumes very similar to those seen in Britain’s Celtic strongholds. There is even genetic evidence to suggest that the parts of Britain’s Celtic population actually came from Spain, although sceptics maintain that Galicia owes its culture and language to the fact that the area never succumbed to the Moorish invasions which so influenced the rest of the country.
Galicia borders Portugal and its language is closely related to Portuguese. The two languages remain mutually intelligible today, though Galician adheres to standard Spanish spelling conventions, a subject you can learn all about when you enrol in our intensive Spanish lessons in London.