Aragonese is by far the most endangered language in Spain, and quite possibly the most endangered Romance language in Europe. Wikipedia puts the number of speakers at 20,000 but according to the most recent figure I've been able to find from 2018, from the director of the newly created DGPL (Dirección General de Política Lingüística), the true number is around 8,000 speakers, most of them elderly.
Most of the native speakers of Aragonese come from the Pyrenean valleys or the plains, but there are hundreds, if not thousands of speakers (most of whom are new speakers) in Zaragoza, the capital of the autonomous province of Aragon. These Pyrenean valleys were devastated by rural flight as young people left for cities and jobs. If they ever came back, they came back speaking Spanish. This is unfortunately still a pressing problem today, one that puts into jeopardy the continued survival of the language. Why learn Aragonese if there are no jobs in your town and you're not going to live there?
Intergenerational transmission has stopped or nearly stopped, and as a result many dialects are spoken by a couple dozen people or a couple hundred people. To learn and speak Aragonese, whether in one of its severely endangered natural varieties or in its new and vibrant neo-Aragonese form, demands effort and commitment from the learner. The best way to learn one of these natural Aragonese dialects is to move to one of these towns and live there, or move to Zaragoza and Huesca, and connect with a group of new speakers.
Curiously, at its most desperate moment in its history, in these last five or six years Aragonese has also gotten its best political/juridical chance to revitalise the language. I'm talking about the IX Legislature of Aragon, a new government formed by a coalition of PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Español) and CHA (Chunta Aragonesista).
The name of the political party CHA is written in Aragonese and that gives you a clue to its position with respect to the Aragonese language. It is an Aragonese nationalist left wing party. It is the only
party that regularly uses Aragonese in its public outreach. It is the only party that I think is for the normalisation and recuperation of Aragonese and Catalan.
Thanks to this coalition between PSOE and the CHA, they overturned the previous right wing policies and undertook unprecedented steps towards the recuperation of Aragonese.
For example, the creation of the Dirección General de Política Lingüística del Gobierno de Aragón (DGPLA) in 2015, the body to direct language revitalisation efforts for Aragonese as well as for the other Aragonese language, Catalan. In 2016, this body received a budget of 532 000 euros, in 2018 this was bumped up to 734 000 euros. That's not enough money when you have to cover the two Aragonese languages, but it's a start.
Among its many initiatives the most important is undoubtedly in education, where up until now Aragonese has had a testimonial presence (= almost nothing). In a matter of years, they created curricula for Aragonese as a subject for primary, high school and bachillerato levels, they created a trial programme in collaboration with the University of Zaragoza to make Aragonese the language of immersion in infant education, which was applied in 2016-2017 with 130 children in 7 locations in the Pyrenean part of Aragon...and given that there is no standard Aragonese, each course had materials created in the varieties spoken in each region.
The Johan Ferrández d'Heredia seat for Aragonese studies was created at the University of Zaragoza, to encourage research into Aragonese, which is important because a great deal of the theory and critical reflection on the current revitalisation of Aragonese comes from the university ambit. Kind of like the critical role played by the Università di Corsica Pasquale Paoli in Corsican language revitalisation.
Another step forward was taken in 2018, now one's level of Aragonese can be certified according to the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) in annual tests.
Aragonese is also being prepared to be introduced into the official schools of languages (EOI) in Aragon. These are publicly funded schools specially dedicated to teaching languages, run by the education department of each autonomous community of Spain. If carried out it would be a significant step towards offering Aragonese education to all Aragonese citizens. Right now if you're an Aragonese person who wants to learn Aragonese you either have to learn Aragonese by yourself or take courses given by associations. And the DGPLA also gives out grants to businesses and organisations that promote Aragonese amd funds literary prizes.
These and many other inciatives were unimaginable only six years ago, when the right wing government had control. But it comes very late. If Aragonese governments had done this as soon as the Spanish dictatorship fell, four decades ago, when the number of speakers was still in the tens of thousands, Aragonese would not be in this position.
And it's not a case of 'hindsight is 50/50', even back then there were calls for Aragonese to be made an official language (something that CHA advocates for today). The Spanish constitution of 1978, adopted just after the dictatorship, gives each community the opportunity to officialise its language(s), an opportunity eagerly taken up in Galicia, Valencia, Navarra, Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, the Basque Country...
But status quo political parties in Aragonese had no desire to challenge Spanish supremacy. It took 27 years
after Aragon became an autonomous community in 1982 for the first law governing the Aragonese languages to be legislated, in 2009, thanks to (again) a left wing coalition of PSOE-CHA.
Which was then abrogated in 2013 as soon as the right wing coalition of PP-PAR (Partido Popular and the Partido Aragonés) came into power. They replaced the 2009 law with another one that for example refused to call Aragonese and Catalan by their own names, marking them in the legislation as 'lengua aragonesa propia de las áreas pirenaica y prepirenaica' and 'lengua aragonesa propia del área oriental' respectively. These designations were consequently popularised as 'LAPAPYP' and 'LAPAO' ironically of course, mocking the fact that some segments of the Aragonese political class are so allergic to any language other than Spanish that they prefer to call them anything but Aragonese and Catalan.
The problem is that it's all dependent on politics. If the right wing Aragonese parties whose attitudes towards Aragonese and Catalan you can only describe as contempt come back into power, all this progress comes to a screeching halt. The whole history of Aragonese political history is that of parties playing football with the language.
Imagine if the right-wing really wished to see the Aragonese languages thrive. Then it wouldn't matter who was in power, Aragonese would get support all the same, and language activists could work in some order. Unfortunately that's not the case, and there's not much hope of getting the Spanish right wing, inveterate Spanish nationalists, to see eye to eye on this issue with "commie pinkos". More than anything, you need political continuity
. The left wing needs to win and keep winning. Even one electoral change, one more obstacle in the introduction of Aragonese into schools, could strike a fatal blow for Aragonese.