Where did the Spanish language Originate?
From Origin to Romance: The Spanish Language’s History
Spanish is a poetic and lovely language. It’s pleasant on the tongue for those who utter it and melody to the ears of those who listen to it.
Have you ever wondered where, precisely, Spanish comes from? How much has Spanish changed over time? How different is the Spanish we hear and speak now from the Spanish spoken at various times throughout history?
It turns out that the Spanish language has undergone a long and spectacular journey. With its profound roots, this Romance language has expanded far and wide from its origins. Thousands of years of language evolution and cultural impact have resulted in the Spanish we know and love today.
It’s an intriguing tale. Let’s begin on a mission to discover the origins of the Spanish language and how it evolved to its current state!
Just the Facts about the Spanish Language Today
● Millions of people speak Spanish around the world.
The Romance language Spanish is the most widely spoken. Portuguese, French, Italian, Romanian, and Catalan are some of the other Romance languages. They’re all related to the Indo-European language family, which we’ll discuss in a minute.
This language is extensively spoken worldwide, even in nations where the official language is not Spanish. The United States is a perfect illustration of a country where Spanish is widely spoken even though it is not authorized.
Three hundred thirty million individuals in 21 countries speak Spanish as their first language. In international communication, it is regarded as the second world language, while in politics, economics, and culture, it is considered the third world language. Thus, a “world language” is widely studied as a second language and widely spoken worldwide. That’s a significant achievement!
● The Spanish Language’s Various Branches
Castilian Spanish, commonly known as Castellano, is the most widely spoken language in Spain. There are a few differences in pronunciation from Latin American Spanish. There are some word distinctions as well. In Spain, for example, you’d drive a coche (car), whereas elsewhere you’d use a carro (a vehicle). In addition, rather than ustedes (you), which is used in other Spanish-speaking nations, vosotros (you) is used.
● Latin American Spanish is spoken in the Americas.
However, keep in mind that there are regional distinctions in Spanish depending on where you are in Latin America. Dialects, idioms, and slangy words make listening to and speaking in any setting an entertaining language!
Now that you have the necessary info about the Spanish language let’s look at it.
The Journey Begins Near the Black Sea, From Proto-Indo-European to Latin
Author Ralph Penny traces the Spanish language back to Indo-European languages in his widely read book “A History of the Spanish Language,” but it could go even further.
Historians and linguists think that until circa 3,400 BCE, a family of languages known as the Proto-Indo-European languages was spoken, which gave birth to the creation of the languages we know today. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about these languages because they never developed a writing system (or even if they existed). But we do know that they eventually evolved into Indo-European languages, about which we see a lot more.
The Indo-European languages were initially spoken 5,000 years ago in the Black Sea region, now Turkey.
As people migrated about, their languages expanded over Europe and Asia. Anatolian, Indo-Iranian, Greek, Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Armenian, Tocharian, Balto-Slavic, and Albanian are some of the languages that have evolved. If you’re interested in learning more, linguist Mark Damen gives a fascinating TEDx talk about one element of this progression across time.
But we’re only interested in the Italic branch of Indo-European languages since it’s from there that we acquired Latin, the old Roman language.
What about the language? It is, after all, Latin!
The Travelers Reach the Iberian Peninsula: From Latin and Arabic to Castilian
The Black Sea is roughly 2,000 kilometers away from the Iberian Peninsula, which contains Spain and Portugal. However, despite the distance, the Roman Empire spread its influence far and wide, impacting the area’s cultural and linguistic development.
Dialects began to emerge within the spoken language when the many languages in the area mixed. The Castilian dialect developed in northern Spain at the end of the 11th century. It is where we can observe the origins of modern Spanish being spoken for the first time!
When the kingdoms of Castile, Leon, and Aragon came together in the late 15th century to establish the beginnings of Spain, what began as a local vernacular spread and gained a stronghold. Castilian, which had also found a writing system, became the province’s official language in 1492.
Castilian Spanish is still the official language of that magnificent country, Spain! The Moors from Northern Africa and the Visigoths from Central Europe both captured areas of Spain. Then, throughout time, it was progressively regained by Christians who spoke Vulgar Latin. The Latin language was the official language of the Peninsula during the Roman Empire. However, it has ties to the native vernacular of the inhabitants, such as Celts and Iberians, and people began to notice its distinct flavor.
Spanish, like Portuguese, French, and Italian, belongs to the Roman language family. In the early ninth century, the Castilian dialects that evolved in Cantabria (North-Central Spain) in the early ninth century gave rise to the Spanish we know and speak today. The Iberian Peninsula is now modern-day Spain, and Castilian has become the country’s official language. So when someone hears Spanish, the first thing that comes to mind is a language spoken in Spain. But there’s a lot more to this language, and it’s said in several other nations.
Spanish explorers transported this vernacular to new countries across the Atlantic to the Americas in the 17th century. It spread fast over the Americas. As a result, persons from Latin America with complete Spanish blood are still considered ‘white.’ Brazil currently accounts for less than half of South America’s population. However, it is predicted that by 2050, most people in South America will be Brazilians who use Portuguese as their first language rather than Spanish. All native Spanish speakers in Latin America speak the same dialect, Castellan.
It is now the world’s second most widely spoken language. There are about 578 million Spanish speakers in the globe now, accounting for 7.6% of the worldwide population. In addition, over 45 million people in the United States speak Spanish as a second language or as a native language. As a result, it has a tremendous cultural impact all over the world. Spanish is the official language of more than 20 countries in the twenty-first century. Spain, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, and several other countries. All of these countries are popular tourist destinations. Also, if you’re a traveler, make sure you brush up on your Spanish skills.
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