Facts About Spanish
As the second most spoken language in the world, Spanish is one of the most important as well as one of the most influential languages in use today. Chinese comes first on the list. 1.2 billion speak Chinese. 329 million speak Spanish.
That said, Spanish is far more widespread in its use than Chinese. The vast majority of people who speak Chinese live in China but the people who speak Spanish are spread all over the world.
Part of the reason Spanish is so widely spoken is largely due to the travels of Columbus back in the fifteenth century. Today, there are far more people in South America that speak Spanish than there are in Spain.
But there are differences, particularly in terms of grammar used and nouns. But the differences are not so great that natives of Argentina can’t communicate with Mexicans or Columbians can’t communicate with Spaniards. It’s still Spanish.
Very often, people hear Spanish or Español called Castellano and wonder if there is a difference, if they are two different languages. In fact the terms are interchangeable and the use of one over the other mostly comes down to political viewpoints.
The term Castellano originates from the thirteenth century. Back then King Alfonso launched a campaign to translate all historic documents into a dialect known as Castilian. Up until that point two major civilizations influenced the language spoken in Spain.
The first were the Romans who ruled Spain or Hispania as it was known back then from around 250 B.C. to the fifth century. Then the Moors invaded and they ruled Spain for five hundred years in the north of the region and seven hundred years in the south.
While the Romans spoke Latin, the Moors spoke Arabic. As a result, Spanish evolved first as a sort of vulgar Latin that then integrated many Arabic words. Once the Moors were expelled from Spain, dialects sprung up around the country.
Some of these dialects persist today, for example Catalan in Catalonia and Euskara in the Basque Country. However, because the King insisted that all historic and legal documents were written in Castilian, the dialect of Castile, this was the language that became the recognized language throughout the country.
The evolution of the Spanish language is monitored today by the Royal Spanish Academy or Real Academia Española, which was set up in the eighteenth century.
Some of the language traits which the academy has reformed and promoted include the use of inverted punctuations, the upside down exclamation mark (¡) and question mark (¿). The letter ñ is also unique to the Spanish language.
One of the things that makes Spanish an easy language to learn is that it is phonetic. Once the pronunciation of the alphabet is understood, it’s possible to pronounce any word. However, being able to pronounce a word doesn’t necessarily mean that it is spelled that way. Normally it is, but not always.
Finally, Spanish is classed as one of the Romance languages. This is basically the countries in Europe who also developed a type of vulgar Latin. This group includes French, Portuguese, Italian, Catalan and Romanian.
But anyone who’s heard Spanish spoken might think that the term ‘romance’ refers to the musical quality of the language. And why not? Besides being an easy language to learn, Spanish is also an easy language to fall in love with.