Galician (in its own language: galego) is a Romance language spoken in Galicia, the region of Spain lying to the north of Portugal, and in adjacent zones in far western Asturias and León. Galician and Portuguese form together a language continuum (a diasystem) called Galician-Portuguese, often considered as a sole language.
Galician shares more features in common with Portuguese than with Spanish; however, as Galician has been for so long a minority language dominated by Spanish, the pronunciation closely resembles that of Spanish.
A feature of the orthography is the frequent use of x, often in initial position, pronounced [ʃ], like English 'sh', corresponding to the soft, voiced g, [ʒ], in Portuguese.
Two rival norms exist:
- The administrative, official norm, supported by the local government of Galicia, is very similar to that of Spanish. It is regulated by the Galician Language Institute (Instituto da Lingua Galega, ILG) and the Royal Galician Academy (Real Academia Galega, RAG).
- The "reintegrationist" norm stresses the historical features of Galician and therefore is very similar to that of Portuguese. It is regulated by the Galician Association of the Language (Associaçom Galega da Língua, AGAL).
The language can be heard in Portugal as well as in Spain on TV Galicia.