Galician 101

From the 8th century, Galicia was a political unit within the kingdoms of Asturias and Leon, but was able to reach a degree of autonomy, becoming an independent kingdom at certain times in the tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries. Galician was the only language in spoken use, and Latin was used, to a decreasing extent, as a written language. This monopoly on spoken language was able to exert such pressure in the 13th century, that it led to a situation of dual official status for Galician and Latin in notarial documents, edicts, lawsuits, etc.; Latin, however, continued to be the universal vehicle for higher culture.

Written texts in Galician have only been found dating from the end of the 12th century, because Latin continued to be the cultured language (not only in Galicia, but also throughout medieval Europe).

The oldest known document is the poem Ora faz ost'o Senhor de Navarra by Joam Soares de Paiva, written around 1200. The first non-literary documents in Galician-Portuguese date from the early 13th century, the Noticia de Torto (1211) and the Testamento of Afonso II of Portugal (1214), both samples of medieval notarial prose.

In the Middle Ages, Galaico-português (or Galician-Portuguese) was a language of culture, poetry, and religion throughout not only Galicia and Portugal, but also Castile (where Castilian was used mainly for prose).

After the separation of Portuguese and Galician, Galician was considered provincial, and it was not widely used for literary or academic purposes until its renaissance in the mid-19th century.
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With the advent of democracy, Galician has been brought into the country's institutions, and it is now co-official with Spanish. Galician is taught in schools, and there is a public Galician-language television channel, TVG.

The Real Academia Galega and other Galician institutions celebrate each May 17 as "Día das Letras Galegas" ("Galician Literature Day"), dedicated each year to a deceased Galician-language writer chosen by the academy.

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