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Eljas (Municipality, Extremadura, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-11-07 by ivan sache
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Flag of Eljas - Image by Ivan Sache, 20 March 2020

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Presentation of Eljas

The municipality of Eljas (915 inhabitants in 2016; 3,300 ha) is located in the extreme north-west of the province, on the borders with Portugal (here, river Eljas) and the province of Salamanca, 120 km north-west of Cáceres.

Ivan Sache, 20 March 2020

Flag of Eljas

The flag and arms of Eljas, adopted on 3 March and 26 August 1993 by the Municipal Council and validated on 22 September 1993 by the Assessing Council of Honors and Distinctions of the Government of Extremadura, are prescribed by an Order issued on 21 October 1993 by the Government of Extremadura and published on 30 October 1993 in the official gazette of Extremadura, No. 126, pp. 2,905-2,906 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular. Composed of a diagonal white stripe running from the hoist's lower angle to the fly's upper angle, the triangle at hoist, red, the triangle at fly, green. Charged in the center with the municipal coat of arms in full colors.
Coat of arms: Per fess, 1a. Argent a cross flory vert, 1b. Argent a lizard proper, 2. Vert a two-towered castle argent masoned sable. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The castle of Eljas, now ruined, was probably built by the Moors in the 11th century on Celtiberian and Roman foundations. The seat of a commandery of the Order of Alcántara, it was of strategic significance during the wars against Portugal.
[Municipal website]

The lizard (lagarto) recalls that the inhabitants of Eljas speak Lagarteiru, one of the three variants of A Fala de Us Tres Lugaris.
A Fala de Us Tres Lugaris is language spoken in only three villages: Valverde del Fresno (Valverdi du Fresnu), Eljas (As Ellas), and San Martí de Trevejo (Sa Martín de Trevellu). There are about 5,500 speakers of the language, whose legal status changed in 2001 when A Fala was declared Cultural Heritage; the language, however, has yet to be mentioned in the Extremadura Autonomy Status.
A Fala forms part of the Ibero-Romance subgroup of Romance languages. There are various theories affiliating A Fala with Portuguese, Astur-Leonese or Galician. The latter seems to be the closest "relative". However, A Fala is clearly an independent language, not a dialect of some of those previously mentioned languages.
The largest of the three villages, Valverde del Fresno, has always served as a kind of local “metropolis”; it has had more contact with the outside world and its variety, Valverdëu, has received more influence from Spanish. It also seems that in Valverde the proportion of people who use A Fala in their daily routine is lower than that in the other two places. The variety of San Martín de Trevejo is called Mañegu. San Martín de Trevejo is a beautiful, picturesque village and its variety has some specific features not shared with the other two villages. The variety of Eljas is called Lagarteiru. As Eljas seems to be a largely traditional place and most people, even children, use the language on a daily basis.
[Miroslav Valeš. 2018. Reflections of an observant linguist regarding the orthography of A Fala de Us Tres Lugaris Language Documentation & Conservation Special Publication No. 9, 115-130]

Ivan Sache, 20 March 2020