Can you guess how many people speak the Spanish language around the world?

Nowadays the Spanish language is spoken by more than 500 million people and this number is still increasing, not only in countries where it is the official language but also elsewhere. Worldwide, it’s the fourth most spoken language!

The history of the Spanish language is really interesting and started a long time ago: it is a Romance language which comes from Latin, however it went through a long way before becoming what it is now.

In the 3rd century BC, Romans conquered Spain. Before they did, natives used to speak their own dialects, known as Proto Indo-European languages, that gave birth to many different dialects around Spain. When these languages and dialects met Latin, which was spoken by Romans, they combined and mixed together.

In the 4th century AD Spain was conquered by the Visigoths, who used to speak Latin: apparently, under the Visigoths the modern Spanish started taking shape.

After them, the Moors conquered the Iberian peninsula. Their influence on the language was huge: more than 4000 Spanish words come from Arabic!

What happened during the Reconquista?

In 711 the Kingdom of Castile started reconquering the territories that had been occupied by the Moors (these process went on until 1492). Slowly, during the following centuries, the Castilian dialect became the official language in Spain, spreading over all the reconquered lands.

Nowadays, different regional languages are spoken in Spain: Castilian, Catalan, Galician and Basque. Spanish people can not understand and speak all the languages, but all natives can speak Castilian, which is the lingua franca.

spanish language history speakers and dialects

What about Spanish in the Americas?

After the discover of the Americas in 1492 and the arrive of the Spanish conquistadors, natives were forced to speak Spanish as the official language. However, the Spanish language mixed with local indigenous dialects, taking from them many words.

On top of that, there are areas of the US where Spanish conquistadors settled, such as Florida and New Mexico: even though these countries were annexed to the US and the official language is English, a large part of the population still speak Spanish.

Fascinating story, isn’t it?

 

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