Spanish language belongs to a group of
languages known as Romanic or Romance languages. This group also
includes languages that had origin in Latin language. The reason they
are called Romanic is because Latin was used in the Roman Empire.
Spanish language began to be spoken in the northern areas of Spain in
the area in which people known as Basques live. This area is located in
southwest Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. It also had a lot of
influence from Arabic languages. Some people also called standard
Spanish language Castellan.
Castellan or standard Spanish developed over
many centuries. The first people living at the Iberian Peninsula were
the Iberians. In the 6th century BC people known as Celtics
who were a nomad tribe in Europe started to get in contact with the
Iberians. They started to mix their languages and ended up with
celtibberian language. Afterwards, this area in Europe was under Roman
Empire and known as Hispania. Because people wanted to trade with
Romans, they learned Latin which was a language of the Roman Empire. But
their Latin was not just like standard language of Romans. It was mixed
with local languages and dialects and often changed how words were
pronounced or used. This resulted in what is known as the Vulgar Latin.
It sounded like Latin, but people added is own rules and words. Latin was an official language even after
Roman Empire broke down till approximately 719 AD. At this time, Moors
from Northern Africa who spoke Arabic language invaded Hispania. Their
language started to mix with a Vulgar Latin people spoke. It remained
for centuries after the Christian kingdoms of Europe defeated Moors in
Spain. All these groups had effect on how Spanish developed in what it
is today. The language borrowed words from Arabic, Latin and many
dialects. Today Spanish language has at least 4,000 words that have
In 1200 king Alfonso X,
decided to create a standard Castellan language so that people in his
kingdom are not divided by language differences. This was going to be an
official language of the country. His experts worked out of city of
Toledo in northern Spain. They translated major works in Castellan and
created many books in this language. In addition, King Alfonso X decided
that all official documents should be in Castellan.
Castellan dialect was
further spread by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand in late 1400s. They
actually declared Castellan the official language of their country. They
also sponsored a writer named Antonio de Nebrija to publish Arte de la
lengua castellana (The Art of the Castilian Language). This book
spelled out the grammar and structure of Castellan language. The Spanish
language soon spread throughout Latin American countries with the Age of
Exploration. As Spain claimed South American’s territory for their flag,
they also spread the language people adopted as their own.
Today, Spanish is spoken by
more than 360 million of people world wide. It is one of the six
official languages of the United Nations. It is the second most spoken
language in the United States which is an English speaking country.
Spanish is written using Latin alphabet. It has several characters added
to Latin alphabet, for example
(eñe)Alphabet has 28 letters: a, b, c, ch, d, e, f, g, h, i, j,
k, l, ll, m, n, ñ, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, x, y, z. Letter
“w” could be the 29th letter and is used for names only.