Some Spanish Language History

There is more to this language than meets the eye at first. Spanish language history is as rich and colourful as is the language itself. All those feelings and emotions that you imagine when hearing Spanish: passion, hot food, conquistadors, art, religion, war. It is all there.

Spanish is now spoken by around 400 million people on the planet but it all started with just a handful of Iberians, in the South West of Europe, before the 6th century BC. Just after that they mingled with the nomadic Celts and developed a Celtic form of language.

By 19BC  their region first became known as Hispania, under Roman rule. The Romans’ Latin then mingled with that of the Iberian Celts to become Vulgar Latin, following Latin rules but adding words from other languages. This is an important point in Spanish language history and explains some cultural differences in modern Spanish languages.

This type of Latin remained Hispania’s official language even when Germanic tribes from Eastern Europe invaded the country around 400 AD.

In AD 719 the North-African Moors invaded Hispania and Arabic was from then on spoken throughout  apart from a few remaining Christian kingdoms ( like Asturias)  in the north of what is now Spain. There Vulgar Latin survived.

Over centuries the Christian kingdoms fought to regain Moor-occupied territory, and they did. You have see El Cid El Cid , haven’t you?

The Northern Castilian Spanish dialect prevailed throughout most of Spain with Andalusian an important secondary dialect, centering on Seville as its main base. Today the Spanish language contains some 4,000 words of Arabic origin, making Spanish language history highly relevant in learning Spanish.

The development of today’s Spanish began in earnest in the 1200’s, in Toledo. King Alfonso X selected this city as a centre of learning, in writing and translating literary works in Castilian.

1492 is mostly known for Columbus’ discovery of the Americas, but it was also the year in which the Spaniards finally drove the last Moors from their country, in Granada. This year is less known for its linguistic milestone. The first book to study and outline the grammar of Castilian/Spanish was published by Antonio de Nebrija, entitled Arte de la lengua castellana. It was in fact the first book that tried to do this with any European language.

Spanish conquistadors spread the Spanish language to South, Middle and North America. When North America acquired previous Spanish colonies it inherited a large Spanish-speaking population in what is now Florida, Arizona, Texas, Southern Colorado and New Mexico. Migration from South America and the Caribbean further contributed to today’s 10% proportion of North Americans being Spanish speakers.

The Phillipines, as another previous Spanish colony counts many Spanish speakers.

There are differences in how Spanish is spoken in Spain to that spoken in the South American countries or elsewhere. But not drastically different. Main differences are in words referring to local differences in food, plants and animals. However the Andalusian dialect is dominant in Argentina and Central America.

There you go… Spanish language history is helpful in learning this language. You can do it on location in language schools, or Spanish lessons online, in the comfort of your home.