The Spanish Language is a member of the Romance group in the Italic subfamily of the Indo-European language family, spoken chiefly in the Iberian peninsula and in Latin America by an estimated 330 million people. It is also known as Castilian, after the dialect from which modern Spanish developed. The Spanish language was carried by Spanish colonists to the Canary Islands, the Antilles, the Philippines, southern North America, the greater part of South America and the coast of Africa.
In the Iberian peninsula the Spanish-language area does not coincide exactly with the political boundaries of Spain. Spain contains three non-Spanish-speaking regions: Galicia, in the north-west, where Gallegan (technically a dialect of Portuguese) is spoken; the Basque provinces, in the north, where Basque, a unique agglutinative language, is spoken; and Catalonia, along the east coast, where Catalan, also a Romance language, is spoken. Catalan is also spoken in the Balearic Islands; in France, in the Pyrénées-Orientales; and in parts of Cuba and Argentina.
In its grammatical structure Castilian Spanish is generally in conformity with French, Italian, Portuguese, and the other Romance languages
History of the Spanish Language
The Vulgar Latin spoken by Roman armies and settlers in ancient Spain formed the basis of the many Spanish dialects that developed in the various regions of the country during the Middle Ages. The dialect of Castile, or Castilian Spanish, gradually became the accepted standard as Castile gained political dominance in the 13th century.
While the majority of Spanish words derive from Latin, many are taken from other sources; for example, pre-Latin languages such as Greek, Basque, and Celtic. The invasion of the Visigoths early in the 5th century AD introduced a few Germanic words. The Muslim conquest three centuries later brought in a large number of Arabic words, many of which are easily detected by the prefixed Arabic article al. Under the influence, beginning in the 11th century, of French ecclesiastics and pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela in north-western Spain, the Spanish vocabulary was appreciably augmented by words and phrases from French. During the 15th and 16th centuries an infusion of elements from the Italian occurred because of Aragonese domination in Italy and the great vogue of Italian poetry in Spain. Relations between Spain and its colonies and possessions have led to the introduction of terms from Native American languages and other sources, and scholarly activities have constantly increased the stock of borrowed words.
Spanish Language Facts
- Spanish is the second world language as a vehicle of international communication and the third as an international language of politics, economics and culture.
- About 330 million people in the world speak Spanish as their first language.
- The demand for Spanish courses has doubled world-wide in ten years.
- Spanish is the official language in 21 countries.
- Approximately another 100 million people speak Spanish as a second language.
- Spanish is expected to be the first language of 50% of the population of the United States within 50 years.
- Spanish is the most popular foreign language to learn in America and Europe.
- Today Spanish is an official language of the UN and its institutions, the European Union and other international organisations.
- Latin American countries are experiencing constant economic growth and becoming more important as trading partners
How to Learn Spanish
Learn Spanish Resources
A summary of the best options available for learning Spanish. It includes ideas for attending courses in Spain, learning at home on a specialised course or even trying to learn by yourself using free resources that appear on the internet.
Learn Spanish in Spain
The way to learn Spanish is to study it in the country where it is spoken because it’s easier, it’s faster, it produces better results and it’s much more stimulating and enjoyable.
Learn Spanish Online
With the arrival of multimedia technology you can now learn Spanish in the comfort of your own home.
Spanish Language Schools
There are Spanish language schools all over Spain and other Spanish speaking countries. Here we’ve recommended a few centres based all over the world.
FREE Information Pack on Spanish Courses in Spain
If you’re seriously considering enrolling on a Spanish course in Spain please Order a FREE Information Pack published by the highly recommended Don Quijote Language Schools