Spanish is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family that evolved from colloquial Latin spoken on the Iberian Peninsula. Today, it is a global language with about 486 million native speakers, mainly in the Americas and Spain.Spanish is the official language of 20 countries. It is the world’s second-most spoken native language after Mandarin Chinese;e world’s fourth-most spoken language overall after English, Mandarin Chinese, and Hindustani (Hindi–Urdu); and the world’s most widely spoken Romance language. The largest population of native speakers is in Mexico.
Spanish is part of the Ibero-Romance group of languages, which evolved from several dialects of Vulgar Latin in Iberia after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century. The oldest Latin texts with traces of Spanish come from mid-northern Iberia in the 9th century,and the first systematic written use of the language happened in Toledo, a prominent city of the Kingdom of Castile, in the 13th century. Spanish colonialism in the early modern period spurred on the introduction of the language to overseas locations, most notably to the Americas.
“Learn to Handwrite Spanish Alphabets”
As a Romance language, Spanish is a descendant of Latin, and has one of the smaller degrees of difference from it (about 20%) alongside Sardinian and Italian. Around 75% of modern Spanish vocabulary is derived from Latin, including Latin borrowings from Ancient Greek.Alongside English and French, it is also one of the most taught foreign languages throughout the world.Spanish does not feature prominently as a scientific language; however, it is better represented in areas like humanities and social sciences.Spanish is also the third most used language on internet websites after English and Chinese.
Spanish is one of the six official languages of the United Nations, and it is also used as an official language by the European Union, Organization of American States, Union of South American Nations, Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, African Union and many other international organizations.
In Spain and in some other parts of the Spanish-speaking world, Spanish is called not only español but also castellano (Castilian), the language from the Kingdom of Castile, contrasting it with other languages spoken in Spain such as Galician, Basque, Asturian, Catalan, Aragonese and Occitan.
The Spanish Constitution of 1978 uses the term castellano to define the official language of the whole Spanish State, in contrast to las demás lenguas españolas (lit. “the other Spanish languages“)
The Royal Spanish Academy (Real Academia Española), on the other hand, currently uses the term español in its publications. However, from 1713 to 1923, it called the language castellano.
The Diccionario panhispánico de dudas (a language guide published by the Royal Spanish Academy) states that, although the Royal Spanish Academy prefers to use the term español in its publications when referring to the Spanish language, both terms—español and castellano—are regarded as synonymous and equally valid.
The term castellano is related to Castile (Castilla or archaically Castiella), the kingdom where the language was originally spoken. The name of Castile, in turn, is usually assumed to be derived from castillo (‘castle’).
In the Middle Ages, the language spoken in Castile was generically referred to as Romance and later also as Lengua vulgar.Later in the period, it gained geographical specification as Romance castellano (“romanz castellano”, “romanz de Castiella”), “lenguaje de Castiella”, and ultimately simply as castellano (noun).
Different etymologies have been suggested for the term español (Spanish). According to the Royal Spanish Academy, español derives from the Occitan word espaignol and that, in turn, derives from the Vulgar Latin *hispaniolus (‘of Hispania’).Hispania was the Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula.
There are other hypotheses apart from the one suggested by the Royal Spanish Academy. Spanish philologist Ramón Menéndez Pidal suggested that the classic hispanus or hispanicus took the suffix -one from Vulgar Latin, as happened with other words such as bretón (Breton) or sajón (Saxon).
The Visigothic Cartularies of Valpuesta, written in a late form of Latin, were declared in 2010 by the Royal Spanish Academy as the record of the earliest words written in Castilian, predating those of the Glosas Emilianenses.
Like the other Romance languages, the Spanish language evolved from Vulgar Latin, which was brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Romans during the Second Punic War, beginning in 210 BC. Several pre-Roman languages — some distantly related to Latin as Indo-European languages, and some that are not related at all—were previously spoken in the Iberian Peninsula. These languages included Proto-Basque, Iberian, Lusitanian, Celtiberian and Gallaecian.
The first documents to show traces of what is today regarded as the precursor of modern Spanish are from the 9th century. Throughout the Middle Ages and into the modern era, the most important influences on the Spanish lexicon came from neighboring Romance languages—Mozarabic (Andalusi Romance),Navarro-Aragonese,Leonese,Catalan,Portuguese,Galician, Occitan, and later,FrenchandItalian. Spanish also borrowed a considerable number of words from Arabic, as well as a minor influence from the Germanic Gothic language through the migration of tribes and a period of Visigoth rule in Iberia.
Typical of Spanish (as also of neighboring Gascon extending as far north as the Gironde estuary, and found in a small area of Calabria), attributed by some scholars to a Basque substratum was the mutation of Latin initial f into h- whenever it was followed by a vowel that did not diphthongize. Theh-, still preserved in spelling, is now silent in most varieties of the language, although in some Andalusian and Caribbean dialects it is still aspirated in some words.
From the 16th century onwards, the language was taken to the Spanish-discovered America and the Spanish East Indies via Spanish colonization of America. Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, is such a well-known reference in the world that Spanish is often called la lengua de Cervantes (“the language of Cervantes”).
In the 20th century, Spanish was introduced to Equatorial Guinea and the Western Sahara, and to areas of the United States that had not been part of the Spanish Empire, such as Spanish Harlem in New York City. For details on borrowed words and other external influences upon Spanish, see Influences on the Spanish language.
Spanish is the primary language in 20 countries worldwide. As of 2023, it is estimated that about 486 million people speak Spanish as a native language, making it the second most spoken language by number of native speakers. An additional 75 million speak Spanish as a second or foreign language, making it the fourth most spoken language in the world overall after English, Mandarin Chinese, and Hindi with a total number of 538 million speakers.
“Learn to Handwrite Spanish Alphabets”
Spanish is also the third most used language on the Internet, after English and Chinese.
Spanish is the official language of Spain, the country after which it is named and from which it originated. Other European territories in which it is also widely spoken include Gibraltar and Andorra.
Today, the majority of the Spanish speakers live in Hispanic America. Nationally, Spanish is the official language—either de facto or de jure—of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico ,Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay (co-official with Guaraní),Peru (co-official with Quechua, Aymara, and “the other indigenous languages), Puerto Rico (co-official with English), Uruguay, and Venezuela.
According to the 2020 census, over 60 million people of the U.S. population were of Hispanic or Hispanic American by origin. In turn, 41.8 million people in the United States aged five or older speak Spanish at home, or about 13% of the population. The Spanish language has a long history of presence in the United States due to early Spanish and, later, Mexican administration over territories now forming the southwestern states, also Louisiana ruled by Spain from 1762 to 1802, as well as Florida, which was Spanish territory until 1821, and Puerto Rico which was Spanish until 1898.
Spanish is by far the most common second language in the country, with over 50 million total speakers if non-native or second-language speakers are included.While English is the de facto national language of the country, Spanish is often used in public services and notices at the federal and state levels. Spanish is also used in administration in the state of New Mexico.
Although Spanish has no official recognition in the former British colony of Belize (known until 1973 as British Honduras) where English is the sole official language, according to the 2010 census it was then spoken natively by 45% of the population and 56.6% of the total population were able to speak the language.
Due to their proximity to Spanish-speaking countries and small existing native Spanish speaking minority, Trinidad and Tobago has implemented Spanish language teaching into its education system. The Trinidad government launched the Spanish as a First Foreign Language (SAFFL) initiative in March 2005.
In addition to sharing most of its borders with Spanish-speaking countries, the creation of Mercosur in the early 1990s induced a favorable situation for the promotion of Spanish language teaching in Brazil.In 2005, the National Congress of Brazil approved a bill, signed into law by the President, making it mandatory for schools to offer Spanish as an alternative foreign language course in both public and private secondary schools in Brazil. However this bill was revoked later in 2016.
Equatorial Guinea is the only Spanish-speaking country located entirely in Africa, with the language introduced during the Spanish colonial period.Enshrined in the constitution as an official language (alongside French and Portuguese), Spanish features prominently in the Equatoguinean education system and is the primary language used in government and business.
Spanish is spoken by very small communities in Angola due to Cuban influence from the Cold War and in South Sudan among South Sudanese natives that relocated to Cuba during the Sudanese wars and returned for their country’s independence.
Spanish is also spoken in the integral territories of Spain in Africa, namely the cities of Ceuta and Melilla and the Canary Islands, located in the Atlantic Ocean some 100 km off the northwest of the African mainland. The Spanish spoken in the Canary Islands, traces its origins back to the Castilian conquest in the 15th century, and, in addition to a resemblance to Western Andalusian speech patterns, it also features strong influence from the Spanish varieties spoken in the Americas, which in turn have also been influenced historically by Canarian Spanish.
While far from the heyday of the Spanish protectorate in Morocco, there are some presence of the Spanish language in the north of Morocco, stemming for example from the availability of certain Spanish-language media.Many northern Moroccans have rudimentary knowledge of Spanish.
Spanish was an official language of the Philippines from the beginning of Spanish administration in 1565 to a constitutional change in 1973. During Spanish colonization, it was the language of government, trade, and education, and was spoken as a first language by Spaniards and educated Filipinos (Ilustrados).
Spanish continued to be official and used in Philippine literature and press during the early years of American administration after the Spanish–American War but was eventually replaced by English as the primary language of administration and education by the 1920s. Nevertheless, despite a significant decrease in influence and speakers, Spanish remained an official language of the Philippines upon independence in 1946, alongside English and Filipino, a standardized version of Tagalog.
Aside from standard Spanish, a Spanish-based creole language called Chavacano developed in the southern Philippines. However, it is not mutually intelligible with Spanish. The number of Chavacano-speakers was estimated at 1.2 million in 1996. The local languages of the Philippines also retain significant Spanish influence, with many words derived from Mexican Spanish, owing to the administration of the islands by Spain through New Spain until 1821, until direct governance from Madrid afterwards to 1898.
Spanish is the official and most spoken language on Easter Island, which is geographically part of Polynesia in Oceania and politically part of Chile. However, Easter Island’s traditional language is Rapa Nui, an Eastern Polynesian language.
Most of the grammatical and typological features of Spanish are shared with the other Romance languages. Spanish is a fusional language. Spanish is the official, or national language in 18 countries and one territory in the Americas, Spain, and Equatorial Guinea. With a population of over 410 million, Hispanophone America accounts for the vast majority of Spanish speakers, of which Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country. In the European Union, Spanish is the mother tongue of 8% of the population, with an additional 7% speaking it as a second language.Additionally, Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States and is by far the most popular foreign language among students.In 2015, it was estimated that over 50 million Americans spoke Spanish, about 41 million of whom were native speakers.With continued immigration and increased use of the language domestically in public spheres and media, the number of Spanish speakers in the United States is expected to continue growing over the forthcoming decades.