12 Irresistibly Interesting Facts About the Spanish Language
1. Over 400 million people speak Spanish
Spanish is the mother tongue of an estimated 400-450 million people, making it the world’s second most spoken language.
Spanish only falls in second place behind Chinese, which is spoken by over a billion people and far outranks any other language.
Spanish surpasses English in its number of speakers, as English comes in third place with 335 million native speakers around the world.
2. There are 21 countries that have Spanish as the official language
Spanish enjoys official language status in 21 countries across Europe, Africa, Central, South and North America, making it a very important global language.
Not only is it the main language for these 21 sovereign states, it also serves as a key language in a handful of dependent territories.
3. Spanish is a Romance language
Spanish belongs to the Indo-European languages, which include French, English, Russian, German, the Slavic and Scandinavian languages as well as various languages in India. Indo-European languages initially spread across Europe and many areas of South Asia before reaching other parts of the world through colonization.
4. Spanish has Latin origins
The Spanish language derives from a particular type of spoken Latin. This dialect developed in the central-northern region of the Iberian Peninsula following the 5th-century demise of the Western Roman Empire.
5. Spanish has two names: Castellano and Español
Spanish speakers often refer to their language as español as well as castellano, which is the Spanish word for “Castilian.”
6. Spanish is a phonetic language
Most people know a few words of Spanish, such as tapas, siesta, cava and tortilla. Spanish has also borrowed a few words from English, such as los jeans (jeans) and el hotel (hotel).
There are, however, some big differences between English and Spanish. For instance, there’s the fact that Spanish is a phonetic language. This means that you pronounce letters consistently and each letter represents a certain sound. This also means that Spanish is a fairly simple language for novices to learn, especially when it comes to spelling and speaking.
7. The Royal Spanish Academy is “in charge” of the language
The Royal Spanish Academy is officially responsible for being the custodian of the Spanish language. It has its home in Madrid and operates numerous language academies through the Association of Spanish Language Academies in the 21 other countries that speak Spanish.
The Academy began its life in the 18th century and since then has published dictionaries and grammar rule books, which have been officially adopted in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries.
8. There are many regional nuances of Spanish
We know that Spanish descended from Latin and spread from the Iberian Peninsula to Latin America through colonization.
It’s fascinating to know that there are more than a few discrepancies between the Spanish of Spain and that of Latin America. There are also countless differences in the Spanish language within Latin America itself!
9. Arabic influenced Spanish
Arab armies started to conquer the Iberian Peninsula in 711, bringing Arabic art, architecture and language to the region. Arabic gradually mixed with old Spanish to become the language spoken today.
10. The earliest Spanish texts were written over 1000 years ago!
Las Glosas Emilianenses (Glosses of Saint Emilianus), written in 964, were long thought to be the first written Spanish texts that survive today. They consist of Spanish and Basque notes made on a religious Latin manuscript.
11. Spanish is poetic and has long sentences
When you translate from English to Spanish, your text is likely to expand by 15-25%. This isn’t because Spanish words are longer than English words (and they’re definitely not as long as German words can be).
The reason for this expansion lies in the fact that Spanish is more detailed, poetic and expressive. It thus uses more words to describe something that English would probably sum up in just one word.
12. The demand of learning Spanish is increasing
Spain has always been a popular travel and foreign study destination. Studying Spanish in schools and universities has also grown in popularity. These days the language is becoming very popular in Asia, signifying its importance in global economic markets.