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Spanish ( or , ) is a
Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin is a range of informal sociolects of Latin Latin (, or , ) ...

Romance language
of the
Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...
that evolved from colloquial spoken
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
in the
Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a peni ...

Iberian Peninsula
. Today, it is a global language with nearly 500 million native speakers, mainly in the Americas and Spain. It is the world's
second-most spoken native language
second-most spoken native language
after Mandarin Chinese, and the world's fourth-most spoken language overall after
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
,
Mandarin Chinese Mandarin (; ) is a group of Sinitic languages, Sinitic (Chinese) languages natively spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. The group includes the Beijing dialect, the basis of the phonology of Standard Chinese. Because Mandarin ...
, and
Hindi Hindi (Devanagari Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (''Nāgarī'', ),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, , page 83 is a left-to-right abugida . ''May Śiv ...

Hindi
, as well as the world's most widely spoken Romance language. Spanish is a part of the Ibero-Romance group of languages, which evolved from several dialects of
Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is non-literary Literature broadly is any collection of written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, ...
in Iberia after the collapse of the
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprises the western provinces of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican ...

Western Roman Empire
in the 5th century. The oldest Latin texts with traces of Spanish come from mid-northern Iberia in the 9th century, and the first systematic written use of the language happened in
Toledo Toledo most commonly refers to: * Toledo, Spain, a city in Spain * Province of Toledo, Spain * Toledo, Ohio, a city in the United States Toledo may also refer to: Places Belize * Toledo District * Toledo Settlement Bolivia * Toledo, Oruro ...
, a prominent city of the
Kingdom of Castile The Kingdom of Castile (; es, Reino de Castilla, la, Regnum Castellae) was a large and powerful state on the Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese Aragonese or Aragones may refer to: * Something related to Aragon, an ...
, in the 13th century. Modern Spanish was then taken to the viceroyalties of the
Spanish Empire The Spanish Empire ( es, link=no, Imperio Español), also known as the Hispanic Monarchy ( es, link=no, Monarquía Hispánica) or the Catholic Monarchy ( es, link=no, Monarquía Católica) during the Early Modern period, was a colonial empire ...

Spanish Empire
beginning in 1492, most notably to the Americas, as well as territories in Africa and
the Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas or ''Filipinas'' ), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republik ...
. As a Romance language, Spanish is a descendant of Latin and has one of the smaller degrees of difference from it (about 20%) alongside
SardinianSardinian refers to anything related to the Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean island of Sardinia. More specifically it can refer to: *Sardinian people *History of Sardinia *Sardinian language *Sardinian literature *Music of Sardinia *Cuisine of Sardin ...
and
Italian.
Italian.
Around 75% of modern Spanish vocabulary is derived from Latin, including Latin borrowings from Ancient Greek. Alongside English and
French
French
, it is also one of the most taught foreign languages throughout the world. Spanish does not feature prominently as a scientific language; however, it is better represented in areas like
humanities Humanities are List of academic disciplines, academic disciplines that study aspects of human society and culture. In the Renaissance, the term contrasted with Divinity (academic discipline), divinity and referred to what is now called classic ...

humanities
and
social sciences Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biol ...

social sciences
. Spanish is also the third most used language on internet websites after English and Chinese. Spanish is one of the six official languages of the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other organizations through formal ...

United Nations
, and it is also used as an official language by the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
, the
Organization of American States The Organization of American States (OAS; es, Organización de los Estados Americanos, pt, Organização dos Estados Americanos, french: Organisation des États américains; ''OEA'') is an international organization that was founded on 30 April ...

Organization of American States
, the
Union of South American Nations The Union of South American Nations (USAN; es, links=no, Unión de Naciones Suramericanas, UNASUR; pt, links=no, União de Nações Sul-Americanas, UNASUL; nl, links=no, Unie van Zuid-Amerikaanse Naties, UZAN; and sometimes referred to as t ...
, the
Community of Latin American and Caribbean States The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), french: link=no, Communauté des États latino-américains et caribéens, nl, Gemeenschap van Latijns-Amerikaanse en Caraïbische Staten is a regional bloc of Latin American and Ca ...

Community of Latin American and Caribbean States
, the
African Union The African Union (AU) is a continental union A continental union is a regional organization which facilitates pan-continental integration. Continental unions vary from collaborative intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental organiza ...

African Union
and many other international organizations.


Name of the language and etymology


Name of the language

In Spain and in some other parts of the Spanish-speaking world, Spanish is called not only but also (Castilian), the language from the
kingdom of Castile The Kingdom of Castile (; es, Reino de Castilla, la, Regnum Castellae) was a large and powerful state on the Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese Aragonese or Aragones may refer to: * Something related to Aragon, an ...
, contrasting it with other
languages spoken in Spain
languages spoken in Spain
such as
GalicianGalician may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Galicia (Spain) ** Galician language ** Galician people ** Gallaeci, a large Celtic tribal federation who inhabited Gallaecia (currently Galicia (Spain) * Something of, from, or related to ...
,
Basque Basque may refer to: * Basques The Basques ( or ; eu, euskaldunak ; es, vascos ; french: basques ) are a Southern European ethnic group, characterised by the Basque language, a Basque culture, common culture and shared genetic ancestry to th ...
, Asturian,
Catalan Catalan may refer to: Catalonia From, or related to Catalonia: * Catalan language, a Romance language * Catalans, an ethnic group formed by the people from, or with origins in, Catalonia * Països Catalans, territories where Catalan is spoken * C ...
,
Aragonese Aragonese or Aragones may refer to: * Something related to Aragon, an autonomous community and former kingdom in Spain * the Aragonese people, those originating from or living in the historical region of Aragon, in north-eastern Spain * the Aragone ...
and
Occitan Occitan (; oc, occitan, link=no ,), also known as ''lenga d'òc'' (; french: langue d'oc) by its native speakers, is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolve ...
. The
Spanish Constitution of 1978 The Spanish Constitution (Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, , , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg ...
uses the term to define the
official language An official language is a language given a special status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically the term "official language" does not refer to the language used by a people or country, but by its government (e.g. judiciar ...

official language
of the whole Spanish State in contrast to (lit. "the other
Spanish languages The languages of Spain ( es, lenguas de España), or Spanish languages ( es, lenguas españolas), are the languages spoken or once spoken in Spain. Most languages spoken in Spain belong to the Romance languages, Romance language family, of whi ...

Spanish languages
"). Article III reads as follows: The
Royal Spanish Academy The Royal Spanish Academy ( es, Real Academia Española, generally abbreviated as RAE) is Spain's official royal institution with a mission to ensure the stability of the Spanish language Spanish () or Castilian (, ) is a Romance language ...
(''Real Academia Española''), on the other hand, currently uses the term in its publications, but from 1713 to 1923 called the language . The (a language guide published by the Royal Spanish Academy) states that, although the Royal Spanish Academy prefers to use the term in its publications when referring to the Spanish language, both terms— and —are regarded as synonymous and equally valid.


Etymology

The term comes from the Latin word , which means "of or pertaining to a
fort A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, g ...

fort
or
castle A castle is a type of structure built during the predominantly by the or royalty and by . Scholars debate the scope of the word ''castle'', but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble. This is distinct ...

castle
". Different etymologies have been suggested for the term (Spanish). According to the Royal Spanish Academy, derives from the Provençal word ''espaignol'' and that, in turn, derives from the
Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is non-literary Literature broadly is any collection of written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, ...
. It comes from the Latin name of the province of
Hispania Hispania ( ; ) was the Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Testame ...

Hispania
that included the current territory of the
Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a peni ...

Iberian Peninsula
. There are other hypotheses apart from the one suggested by the Royal Spanish Academy. Spanish philologist Menéndez Pidal suggested that the classic or took the suffix from
Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is non-literary Literature broadly is any collection of written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, ...
, as it happened with other words such as (Breton) or (Saxon). The word evolved into the
Old Spanish Old Spanish, also known as Old Castilian ( es, castellano antiguo; osp, romance castellano ) or Medieval Spanish ( es, español medieval), was originally a dialect of Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is non ...
, which eventually, became .


History

The Spanish language evolved from
Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is non-literary Literature broadly is any collection of written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, ...
, which was brought to the
Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a peni ...

Iberian Peninsula
by the
Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, ...
during the
Second Punic War The Second Punic War, which lasted from 218 to 201BC, was the second of three wars fought between Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side of the in what is now . Carthage was the most important trading ...
, beginning in 210 BC. Previously, several pre-Roman languages (also called
Paleohispanic languages The paleo-Hispanic languages were the languages of the Pre-Roman peoples of the Iberian Peninsula, excluding languages of foreign colonies, such as Greek in Emporion and Phoenician in Qart Hadast. After the Roman conquest of Hispania the Paleo ...
)—some related to Latin via Indo-European, and some that are not related at all—were spoken in the Iberian Peninsula. These languages included
Basque Basque may refer to: * Basques The Basques ( or ; eu, euskaldunak ; es, vascos ; french: basques ) are a Southern European ethnic group, characterised by the Basque language, a Basque culture, common culture and shared genetic ancestry to th ...
(still spoken today),
Iberian Iberian refers to Iberia (disambiguation), Iberia. Most commonly Iberian refers to: *Someone or something originating in the Iberian Peninsula, namely from Spain, Portugal and Andorra. The term ''Iberian'' is also used to refer to anything pertain ...
, Celtiberian and Gallaecian. The first documents to show traces of what is today regarded as the precursor of modern Spanish are from the 9th century. Throughout the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
and into the
modern era Human history, or world history, is the narrative of humanity Humanity most commonly refers to: * Human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, ...
, the most important
influence Influence or influencer may refer to: *Social influence, in social psychology, influence in interpersonal relationships **Minority influence, when the minority affect the behavior or beliefs of the majority *Influencer marketing, through individua ...
s on the Spanish lexicon came from neighboring
Romance languages The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin is a range of informal sociolects of Latin Latin (, or , ) ...

Romance languages
Mozarabic Mozarabic, also called Andalusi Romance ( mxi, latino, link=no), was a continuum Continuum may refer to: * Continuum (measurement) Continuum theories or models explain variation as involving gradual quantitative transitions without abrupt ch ...
( Andalusi Romance),
Navarro-Aragonese Navarro-Aragonese is a Romance language The Romance languages (less commonly Latin languages, or Neo-Latin languages) are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin between the third and eighth centuries. They are a subgroup of the ...
, Leonese,
Catalan Catalan may refer to: Catalonia From, or related to Catalonia: * Catalan language, a Romance language * Catalans, an ethnic group formed by the people from, or with origins in, Catalonia * Països Catalans, territories where Catalan is spoken * C ...
,
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
,
GalicianGalician may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Galicia (Spain) ** Galician language ** Galician people ** Gallaeci, a large Celtic tribal federation who inhabited Gallaecia (currently Galicia (Spain) * Something of, from, or related to ...
,
Occitan Occitan (; oc, occitan, link=no ,), also known as ''lenga d'òc'' (; french: langue d'oc) by its native speakers, is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evol ...
, and later,
French
French
and
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

Italian
. Spanish also borrowed a considerable number of words from
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
, as well as a minor influence from the Germanic
Gothic language Gothic is an extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism or of a group of kinds (taxon), usually a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the endling, last individual of the species, alth ...
through the migration of tribes and a period of
Visigoth The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people who, along with the Ostrogoths, constituted the two major political entities of the Goths within the Roman Empire in late antiquity, or what is know ...

Visigoth
rule in Iberia. In addition, many more words were borrowed from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...
through the influence of written language and the liturgical language of the Church. The loanwords were taken from both
Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestur ...
and
Renaissance Latin Renaissance Latin is a name given to the distinctive form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Lati ...
, the form of Latin in use at that time. According to the theories of
Ramón Menéndez Pidal Ramón Menéndez Pidal (; 13 March 1869 – 14 November 1968) was a Spanish philologist Philology is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and ...
, local
sociolect In sociolinguistics, a sociolect is a variety (linguistics), form of language (nonstandard dialect, non-standard dialect, restricted register (sociolinguistics), register) or a set of lexicon, lexical items used by a socioeconomic class, a professi ...
s of Vulgar Latin evolved into Spanish, in the north of Iberia, in an area centered in the city of
Burgos Burgos ( , , ) is a city of Spain located in the autonomous community of Castile and León. It is the capital and most populated municipality of the province of Burgos. It is situated in the north of the Iberian Peninsula, on the confluence of t ...

Burgos
, and this dialect was later brought to the city of
Toledo Toledo most commonly refers to: * Toledo, Spain, a city in Spain * Province of Toledo, Spain * Toledo, Ohio, a city in the United States Toledo may also refer to: Places Belize * Toledo District * Toledo Settlement Bolivia * Toledo, Oruro ...
, where the written standard of Spanish was first developed, in the 13th century. In this formative stage, Spanish developed a strongly differing variant from its close cousin, Leonese, and, according to some authors, was distinguished by a heavy Basque influence (see
Iberian Romance languages The Iberian Romance or Ibero-Romance is an areal grouping of Romance languages The Romance languages (less commonly Latin languages, or Neo-Latin languages) are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known ...
). This distinctive dialect spread to southern Spain with the advance of the , and meanwhile gathered a sizable lexical influence from the
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
of
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus
, much of it indirectly, through the Romance Mozarabic dialects (some 4,000
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
-derived words, make up around 8% of the language today). The written standard for this new language was developed in the cities of
Toledo Toledo most commonly refers to: * Toledo, Spain, a city in Spain * Province of Toledo, Spain * Toledo, Ohio, a city in the United States Toledo may also refer to: Places Belize * Toledo District * Toledo Settlement Bolivia * Toledo, Oruro ...
, in the 13th to 16th centuries, and
Madrid Madrid ( , ) is the capital and most populous city of Spain. The city has almost 3.4 million inhabitants and a Madrid metropolitan area, metropolitan area population of approximately 6.7 million. It is the Largest cities of the Europ ...

Madrid
, from the 1570s. The development of the Spanish sound system from that of
Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is non-literary Literature broadly is any collection of written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, ...
exhibits most of the changes that are typical of
Western Romance languages 270px, The Romance language family (simplified) Western Romance languages are one of the two subdivisions of a proposed subdivision of the Romance languages The Romance languages (less commonly Latin languages, or Neo-Latin languages) are the ...
, including
lenition In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
of intervocalic consonants (thus Latin > Spanish ). The
diphthongization In historical linguistics, vowel breaking, vowel fracture, or diphthongization is the sound change of a monophthong into a diphthong or triphthong. Types Vowel breaking may be unconditioned or conditioned. It may be triggered by the presence of ano ...
of Latin stressed short and —which occurred in open syllables in French and Italian, but not at all in Catalan or Portuguese—is found in both open and closed syllables in Spanish, as shown in the following table:
Spanish is marked by the palatalization of the Latin double consonants and (thus Latin > Spanish , and Latin > Spanish ). The consonant written or in Latin and pronounced in Classical Latin had probably "
fortified A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically officially authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, w ...
" to a bilabial fricative in Vulgar Latin. In early Spanish (but not in Catalan or Portuguese) it merged with the consonant written ''b'' (a bilabial with plosive and fricative allophones). In modern Spanish, there is no difference between the pronunciation of orthographic and , with some exceptions in Caribbean Spanish. Peculiar to Spanish (as well as to the neighboring Gascon dialect of
Occitan Occitan (; oc, occitan, link=no ,), also known as ''lenga d'òc'' (; french: langue d'oc) by its native speakers, is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evol ...
, and attributed by some scholars to a Basque
substratum In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
) was the mutation of Latin initial into whenever it was followed by a vowel that did not diphthongize. The , still preserved in spelling, is now silent in most varieties of the language, although in some Andalusian and Caribbean dialects it is still aspirated in some words. Because of borrowings from Latin and from neighboring Romance languages, there are many -/- doublets in modern Spanish: and (both Spanish for "Ferdinand"), and (both Spanish for "smith"), and (both Spanish for "iron"), and and (both Spanish for "deep", but means "bottom" while means "deep"); (Spanish for "to make") is
cognate In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
to the root word of (Spanish for "to satisfy"), and ("made") is similarly cognate to the root word of (Spanish for "satisfied"). Compare the examples in the following table:
Some
consonant cluster In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the metho ...
s of Latin also produced characteristically different results in these languages, as shown in the examples in the following table:
In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish underwent a dramatic change in the pronunciation of its sibilant consonants, known in Spanish as the , which resulted in the distinctive
velar Velars are consonants place of articulation, articulated with the back part of the tongue (the dorsum) against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth (known also as the Soft palate, velum). Since the velar region of the roof of ...

velar
pronunciation of the letter and—in a large part of Spain—the characteristic
interdental Interdental consonants are produced by placing the tip of the tongue between the upper and lower front teeth. That differs from dental consonant Dental may refer to: * Having to do with teeth * Dentistry, a medical profession dealing with teeth * ...
("th-sound") for the letter (and for before or ). See History of Spanish (Modern development of the Old Spanish sibilants) for details. The , written in
Salamanca Salamanca ( , ) is a city situated in western Spain and is the capital of the Province of Salamanca in the Autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community of Castile and León. The city lies on several rolling hills by the Tormes River. It ...

Salamanca
in 1492 by , was the first grammar written for a modern European language. According to a popular anecdote, when Nebrija presented it to Queen Isabella I, she asked him what was the use of such a work, and he answered that language is the instrument of empire. In his introduction to the grammar, dated 18 August 1492, Nebrija wrote that "... language was always the companion of empire." From the sixteenth century onwards, the language was taken to the Spanish-discovered
America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and a ...

America
and the
Spanish East Indies Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, , , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_an ...
via
Spanish colonization of America Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish colonization of America
.
Miguel de Cervantes Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (; 29 September 1547 (assumed)22 April 1616 Old Style and New Style dates, NS) was a Spanish writer widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language, and one of the world's pre-eminent novelists. He is ...

Miguel de Cervantes
, author of ''
Don Quixote (, ;Oxford English Dictionary,Don Quixote , ) is a Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ont ...

Don Quixote
'', is such a well-known reference in the world that Spanish is often called ("the language of Cervantes"). In the twentieth century, Spanish was introduced to
Equatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea ( es, Guinea Ecuatorial; french: Guinée équatoriale; pt, Guiné Equatorial), officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea ( es, link=no, República de Guinea Ecuatorial, french: link=no, République de Guinée équatoriale, ...

Equatorial Guinea
and the Western Sahara, and to areas of the United States that had not been part of the Spanish Empire, such as Spanish Harlem in New York City. For details on borrowed words and other external influences upon Spanish, see Influences on the Spanish language.


Geographical distribution

Spanish is the primary language in 20 countries worldwide. As of 2020, it is estimated that about 463 million people speak Spanish as a native language, making it the second List of languages by number of native speakers, most spoken language by number of native speakers. An additional 75 million speak Spanish as a second or Spanish as a foreign language, foreign language, making it the fourth most spoken language in the world overall after English, Mandarin Chinese, and Hindi with a total number of 538 million speakers. Spanish is also the third Languages used on the Internet, most used language on the Internet, after English and Chinese.


Europe

In Europe, Spanish is an official language of Spain, the country after which it is named and from which it originated. It is also widely spoken in Gibraltar and Andorra. Spanish is also spoken by immigrant communities in other European countries, such as the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany. Spanish is an official language of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
.


Americas


Hispanic America

Most Spanish speakers are in Hispanic America; of all countries with a majority of Spanish speakers, only Spain and
Equatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea ( es, Guinea Ecuatorial; french: Guinée équatoriale; pt, Guiné Equatorial), officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea ( es, link=no, República de Guinea Ecuatorial, french: link=no, République de Guinée équatoriale, ...

Equatorial Guinea
are outside the Americas. Nationally, Spanish is the official language—either ''de facto'' or ''de jure''—of Argentina, Bolivia (co-official with Quechua language, Quechua, Aymara language, Aymara, Guarani language, Guarani, and 34 other languages), Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico (co-official with 63 indigenous languages), Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay (co-official with Guarani language, Guaraní), Peru (co-official with Quechua language, Quechua, Aymara language, Aymara, and "the other indigenous languages"), Puerto Rico (co-official with English), Uruguay, and Venezuela. Spanish has no official recognition in the former British overseas territories, British colony of Belize; however, per the 2000 census, it is spoken by 43% of the population. Mainly, it is spoken by the descendants of Hispanics who have been in the region since the seventeenth century; however, English is the official language. Due to their proximity to Spanish-speaking countries, Trinidad and Tobago and Brazil have implemented Spanish language teaching into their education systems. The Trinidad government launched the ''Spanish as a First Foreign Language'' (SAFFL) initiative in March 2005. In 2005, the National Congress of Brazil approved a bill, signed into law by the President of Brazil, President, making it mandatory for schools to offer Spanish as an alternative foreign language course in both public and private secondary schools in Brazil. In September 2016 this law was revoked by Michel Temer after impeachment of Dilma Rousseff. In many border towns and villages along Paraguay and Uruguay, a mixed language known as Riverense Portuñol, Portuñol is spoken.


United States

According to 2006 census data, 44.3 million people of the U.S. population were Hispanic or Hispanic American by origin; 38.3 million people, 13 percent of the population over five years old speak Spanish at home. The Spanish language has a long history of presence in the United States due to early Spanish and, later, Mexican administration over territories now forming the Southwestern United States, southwestern states, also Louisiana ruled by Spain from 1762 to 1802, as well as Florida, which was Spanish territory until 1821, and Puerto Rico which was Spanish until 1898. Spanish is by far the most common second language in the US, with over 50 million total speakers if non-native or second-language speakers are included. (in Spanish) While English is the de facto national language of the country, Spanish is often used in public services and notices at the federal and state levels. Spanish is also used in administration in the state of New Mexico. The language also has a strong influence in major metropolitan areas such as those of Greater Los Angeles area, Los Angeles, Miami metropolitan area, Miami, San Antonio metropolitan area, San Antonio, New York metropolitan area, New York, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco, Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, Dallas, and Phoenix metropolitan area, Phoenix; as well as more recently, Chicago metropolitan area, Chicago, Las Vegas Valley, Las Vegas, Greater Boston, Boston, Greater Denver, Denver, Greater Houston, Houston, Greater Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Greater Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Greater Cleveland, Cleveland, Greater Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City, Greater Atlanta, Atlanta, Greater Nashville, Nashville, Greater Orlando, Orlando, Greater Tampa, Tampa, Greater Raleigh, Raleigh and Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area, Baltimore-Washington, D.C. due to 20th- and 21st-century immigration.


Africa

In Africa,
Equatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea ( es, Guinea Ecuatorial; french: Guinée équatoriale; pt, Guiné Equatorial), officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea ( es, link=no, República de Guinea Ecuatorial, french: link=no, République de Guinée équatoriale, ...

Equatorial Guinea
gained its independence from Spain on 1968, but maintains Spanish as its official language alongside and
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
, being currently the only African country where Spanish is an official language. It is also the most widely spoken language (considerably more than the other two official languages), and according to the Instituto Cervantes 87.7% of the population are fluent in Spanish. Fang language, Fang is the most spoken language by number of native speakers. Spanish is also an official language of the
African Union The African Union (AU) is a continental union A continental union is a regional organization which facilitates pan-continental integration. Continental unions vary from collaborative intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental organiza ...

African Union
. Spanish is also spoken in the Plazas de soberanía, integral territories of Spain in North Africa, which include the autonomous cities of Spain, cities of Ceuta and Melilla, the Canary Islands located some off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, and minuscule outposts known as ''plazas de soberanía''. In northern Morocco, a former History of Morocco#European influence, Spanish protectorate, approximately 20,000 people speak Spanish as a second language, while Arabic is the ''de jure'' official language and French is a second administrative language. Spanish is spoken by very small communities in Angola due to Cuban influence from the Cold War and in South Sudan among South Sudanese natives that relocated to Cuba during the Sudanese wars and returned for their country's independence. In Western Sahara, formerly Spanish Sahara, Spanish was officially spoken during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Today, Spanish is present alongside Arabic in the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, although this entity receives limited international recognition and the number of Spanish speakers is unknown.


Asia

Spanish was an official language of the Philippines from the beginning of Spanish administration in 1565 to a constitutional change in 1973. During History of the Philippines (1521–1898), Spanish colonization (1565–1898), it was the language of government, trade, and education, and was spoken as a first language by Spaniards and educated Filipinos. In the mid-nineteenth century, the colonial government set up a free public education system with Spanish as the medium of instruction. While this increased the use of Spanish throughout the islands and led to the formation of a class of Spanish-speaking intellectuals called the ''Ilustrados'', only populations in urban areas or with places with a significant Spanish presence used the language on a daily basis or learned it as a second or third language. By the end of Spanish rule in 1898, only about 10% of the population had knowledge of Spanish, mostly those of Spanish descent or elite standing. Despite Insular Government of the Philippine Islands, American administration of the Philippines after the defeat of Spain in the Spanish–American War, Spanish continued to be used in Philippine literature and press during the early years of American administration. Gradually however, the American government began promoting the use of English at the expense of Spanish, characterizing it as a negative influence of the past. Eventually, by the 1920s, English became the primary language of administration and education. Nevertheless, despite a significant decrease in influence and speakers, Spanish remained an official language of the Philippines upon independence in 1946, alongside English and Filipino language, Filipino, a standardized version of Tagalog language, Tagalog. Spanish was briefly removed from official status in 1973 under the administration of Ferdinand Marcos, but regained official status two months later under Presidential Decree No. 155, dated 15 March 1973. It remained an official language until 1987, with the ratification of the present constitution, in which it was re-designated as a voluntary and optional auxiliary language. In 2010, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo encouraged the reintroduction of Spanish-language teaching in the Philippine education system. However, the initiative failed to gain any traction, with the number of secondary schools at which the language is either a compulsory subject or offered as an elective remaining very limited. Today, while the most optimistic estimates place the number of Spanish speakers in the Philippines at around 1.8 million people, interest in the language is growing, with some 20,000 students studying the language every year. Aside from standard Spanish, a Spanish-based creole language called Chavacano developed in the southern Philippines. However, it is not mutually intelligible with Spanish. The number of Chavacano-speakers was estimated at 1.2 million in 1996. The local languages of the Philippines also retain significant Spanish influence, with many words derived from Mexican Spanish, owing to the administration of the islands by Spain through New Spain until 1821, until direct governance from Madrid afterwards to 1898.


Oceania

Spanish is the official and most spoken language on Easter Island, which is geographically part of Polynesia in Oceania and politically part of Chile. However, Easter Island's traditional language is Rapa Nui language, Rapa Nui, an Polynesian languages, Eastern Polynesian language. As a legacy of comprising the former
Spanish East Indies Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, , , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_an ...
, Spanish loan words are present in the local languages of Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia, Micronesia.


Grammar

Most of the grammatical and Linguistic typology, typological features of Spanish are shared with the other
Romance languages The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin is a range of informal sociolects of Latin Latin (, or , ) ...

Romance languages
. Spanish is a fusional language. The Spanish nouns, noun and Spanish adjectives, adjective systems exhibit two Grammatical gender, genders and two Grammatical number, numbers. In addition, articles and some Spanish pronouns, pronouns and Spanish determiners, determiners have a neuter gender in their singular form. There are about fifty Grammatical conjugation, conjugated forms per verb, with 3 tenses: past, present, future; 2 Grammatical aspect, aspects for past: Perfective aspect, perfective, Imperfective aspect, imperfective; 4 Grammatical mood, moods: indicative, subjunctive, conditional, imperative; 3 persons: first, second, third; 2 numbers: singular, plural; 3 verboid forms: infinitive, gerund, and past participle. The indicative mood is the Markedness, unmarked one, while the subjunctive mood expresses uncertainty or indetermination, and is commonly paired with the conditional, which is a mood used to express "would" (as in, "I would eat if I had food); the imperative is a mood to express a command, commonly a one word phrase – "¡Di!", "Talk!". Verbs express T-V distinction by using different persons for formal and informal addresses. (For a detailed overview of verbs, see Spanish verbs and Spanish irregular verbs.) Spanish syntax is considered Branching (linguistics), right-branching, meaning that subordinate or Grammatical modifier, modifying Constituent (linguistics), constituents tend to be placed after head words. The language uses Preposition and postposition, prepositions (rather than postpositions or inflection of nouns for Grammatical case, case), and usually—though not always—places adjectives after nouns, as do most other Romance languages. Spanish is classified as a subject–verb–object language; however, as in most Romance languages, constituent order is highly variable and governed mainly by topicalization and Focus (linguistics), focus rather than by syntax. It is a "Pro-drop language, pro-drop", or "Null-subject language, null-subject" language—that is, it allows the deletion of subject pronouns when they are Pragmatics, pragmatically unnecessary. Spanish is described as a "Verb framing, verb-framed" language, meaning that the ''direction'' of motion is expressed in the verb while the ''mode'' of locomotion is expressed adverbially (e.g. ''subir corriendo'' or ''salir volando''; the respective English equivalents of these examples—'to run up' and 'to fly out'—show that English is, by contrast, "satellite-framed", with mode of locomotion expressed in the verb and direction in an adverbial modifier). Subject/verb inversion is not required in questions, and thus the recognition of declarative or interrogative may depend entirely on intonation.


Phonology

The Spanish phonemic system is originally descended from that of
Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is non-literary Literature broadly is any collection of written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, ...
. Its development exhibits some traits in common with the neighboring dialects—especially Leonese dialect, Leonese and
Aragonese Aragonese or Aragones may refer to: * Something related to Aragon, an autonomous community and former kingdom in Spain * the Aragonese people, those originating from or living in the historical region of Aragon, in north-eastern Spain * the Aragone ...
—as well as other traits unique to Spanish. Spanish is unique among its neighbors in the aspiration and eventual loss of the Latin initial sound (e.g. Cast. vs. Leon. and Arag. ). The Latin initial consonant sequences , , and in Spanish typically become (originally pronounced ), while in Aragonese they are preserved in most dialects, and in Leonese they present a variety of outcomes, including , , and . Where Latin had before a vowel (e.g. ) or the ending , (e.g. ), Old Spanish produced , that in Modern Spanish became the velar fricative (, , where neighboring languages have the palatal lateral (e.g. Portuguese , ; Catalan , ).


Segmental phonology

The Spanish Phoneme, phonemic inventory consists of five vowel phonemes (, , , , ) and 17 to 19 consonant phonemes (the exact number depending on the dialect). The main Allophone, allophonic variation among vowels is the reduction of the high vowels and to glides— and respectively—when unstressed and adjacent to another vowel. Some instances of the mid vowels and , determined lexically, alternate with the diphthongs and respectively when stressed, in a process that is better described as Morphophonology, morphophonemic rather than phonological, as it is not predictable from phonology alone. The Spanish consonant system is characterized by (1) three nasal stop, nasal phonemes, and one or two (depending on the dialect) lateral consonant, lateral phoneme(s), which in syllable-final position Archiphonemic, lose their contrast and are subject to Assimilation (linguistics), assimilation to a following consonant; (2) three Voicelessness, voiceless Plosive, stops and the Affricate consonant, affricate ; (3) three or four (depending on the dialect) Voicelessness, voiceless Fricative consonant, fricatives; (4) a set of voiced obstruents—, , , and sometimes —which alternate between Approximant consonant, approximant and plosive allophones depending on the environment; and (5) a phonemic distinction between the "Flap consonant, tapped" and "Trill consonant, trilled" ''r''-sounds (single and double in orthography). In the following table of consonant phonemes, is marked with an asterisk (*) to indicate that it is preserved only in some dialects. In most dialects it has been merged with in the merger called . Similarly, is also marked with an asterisk to indicate that most dialects do not distinguish it from (see ), although this is not a true merger but an outcome of different evolution of sibilants in Southern Spain. The phoneme is in parentheses () to indicate that it appears only in loanwords. Each of the voiced obstruent phonemes , , , and appears to the right of a ''pair'' of voiceless phonemes, to indicate that, while the ''voiceless'' phonemes maintain a phonemic contrast between plosive (or affricate) and fricative, the ''voiced'' ones alternate Allophone, allophonically (i.e. without phonemic contrast) between plosive and approximant pronunciations.


Prosody

Spanish is classified by its Isochrony, rhythm as a isochrony#syllable timing, syllable-timed language: each syllable has approximately the same duration regardless of stress. Spanish intonation (linguistics), intonation varies significantly according to dialect but generally conforms to a pattern of falling tone for declarative sentences and wh-questions (who, what, why, etc.) and rising tone for Yes–no question, yes/no questions. There are no syntactic markers to distinguish between questions and statements and thus, the recognition of declarative or interrogative depends entirely on intonation. Stress most often occurs on any of the last three syllables of a word, with some rare exceptions at the fourth-to-last or earlier syllables. Stress tends to occur as follows: * in words that end with a monophthong, on the penultimate syllable * when the word ends in a diphthong, on the final syllable. * in words that end with a consonant, on the last syllable, with the exception of two grammatical endings: , for third-person-plural of verbs, and , for plural of nouns and adjectives or for second-person-singular of verbs. However, even though a significant number of nouns and adjectives ending with are also stressed on the penult (, , ), the great majority of nouns and adjectives ending with are stressed on their last syllable (, , , ). * Preantepenultimate stress (stress on the fourth-to-last syllable) occurs rarely, only on verbs with clitic pronouns attached (e.g. 'saving them for him/her/them/you'). In addition to the many exceptions to these tendencies, there are numerous minimal pairs that contrast solely on stress such as ('sheet') and ('savannah'); ('boundary'), ('he/she limits') and ('I limited'); ('liquid'), ('I sell off') and ('he/she sold off'). The orthographic system unambiguously reflects where the stress occurs: in the absence of an accent mark, the stress falls on the last syllable unless the last letter is , , or a vowel, in which cases the stress falls on the next-to-last (penultimate) syllable. Exceptions to those rules are indicated by an acute accent mark over the vowel of the stressed syllable. (See Spanish orthography.)


Speaker population

Spanish is the official, or national language in Hispanic America, 18 countries and one territory in the Americas, Spain, and
Equatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea ( es, Guinea Ecuatorial; french: Guinée équatoriale; pt, Guiné Equatorial), officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea ( es, link=no, República de Guinea Ecuatorial, french: link=no, République de Guinée équatoriale, ...

Equatorial Guinea
. With a population of over 410 million, Spanish language in the Americas, Hispanophone America accounts for the vast majority of Spanish speakers, of which Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country. In the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
, Spanish is the First language, mother tongue of 8% of the population, with an additional 7% speaking it as a second language. Additionally, Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States and is by far the most popular foreign language among students. In 2015, it was estimated that over 50 million Americans spoke Spanish, about 41 million of whom were native speakers. With continued immigration and increased use of the language domestically in public spheres and media, the number of Spanish speakers in the United States is expected to continue growing over the forthcoming decades.


Spanish speakers by country

The following table shows the number of Spanish speakers in some 79 countries.


Dialectal variation

While being mutually intelligible, there are important variations (Phonology, phonological, Grammar, grammatical, and Lexicon, lexical) in the spoken Spanish of the various regions of Spain and throughout the Spanish-speaking areas of the Americas. The variety with the most speakers is Mexican Spanish. It is spoken by more than twenty percent of the world's Spanish speakers (more than 112 million of the total of more than 500 million, according to the table above). One of its main features is the vowel reduction, reduction or loss of unstressed vowels, mainly when they are in contact with the sound /s/. In Spain, northern dialects are popularly thought of as closer to the standard, although positive attitudes toward southern dialects have increased significantly in the last 50 years. Even so, the speech of Madrid, which has typically southern features such as yeísmo and s-aspiration, is the standard variety for use on radio and television. However, the variety used in the media is that of Madrid's educated classes, where southern traits are less evident, in contrast with the variety spoken by working-class Madrid, where those traits are pervasive. The educated variety of Madrid is indicated by many as the one that has most influenced the written standard for Spanish.


Phonology

The four main phonological divisions are based respectively on (1) the phoneme Voiceless dental fricative, ("theta"), (2) the debuccalization of syllable-final , (3) the sound of the spelled , (4) and the phoneme Palatal lateral approximant, ("turned ''y''"), * The phoneme (spelled before or and spelled elsewhere), a voiceless dental fricative as in English ''thing'', is maintained by a majority of Spain's population, especially in the northern and central parts of the country. In other areas (some parts of southern Spain, the Canary Islands, and the Americas), does not exist and occurs instead. The maintenance of phonemic contrast is called in Spanish, while the merger is generally called (in reference to the usual realization of the merged phoneme as ) or, occasionally, (referring to its interdental realization, , in some parts of southern Spain). In most of Hispanic America, the spelled before or , and spelled is always pronounced as a Voiceless alveolar sibilant#Dentalized laminal alveolar, voiceless dental sibilant. * The debuccalization (pronunciation as , or loss) of syllable-final is associated with the southern half of Spain and lowland Americas: Central America (except central Costa Rica and Guatemala), the Caribbean, coastal areas of southern Mexico, and South America except Andean highlands. Debuccalization is frequently called "aspiration" in English, and in Spanish. When there is no debuccalization, the syllable-final is pronounced as Voiceless alveolar sibilant#Retracted alveolar, voiceless "apico-alveolar" sibilant or as a Voiceless alveolar sibilant#Dentalized laminal alveolar, voiceless dental sibilant in the same fashion as in the next paragraph. * The sound that corresponds to the letter is pronounced in northern and central Spain as a Voiceless alveolar sibilant#Retracted alveolar, voiceless "apico-alveolar" sibilant (also described acoustically as "Grave and acute, grave" and articulatorily as "retracted"), with a weak "hushing" sound reminiscent of fricatives. In Andalusia, Canary Islands and most of Hispanic America (except in the Colombian Spanish#Paisa dialect, Paisa region of Colombia) it is pronounced as a Voiceless alveolar sibilant#Dentalized laminal alveolar, voiceless dental sibilant , much like the most frequent pronunciation of the /s/ of English. Because /s/ is one of the most frequent phonemes in Spanish, the difference of pronunciation is one of the first to be noted by a Spanish-speaking person to differentiate Spaniards from Spanish-speakers of the Americas. * The phoneme , spelled , a Palatal lateral approximant, palatal lateral consonant that can be approximated by the sound of the of English ''million'', tends to be maintained in less-urbanized areas of northern Spain and in Andean Spanish, highland areas of South America. Meanwhile, in the speech of most other Spanish-speakers, it is merged with ("curly-tail ''j''"), a non-lateral, usually voiced, usually fricative, palatal consonant, sometimes compared to English (''yod'') as in ''yacht'' and spelled in Spanish. As with other forms of allophony across world languages, the small difference of the spelled and the spelled is usually not perceived (the difference is not heard) by people who do not produce them as different phonemes. Such a phonemic merger is called in Spanish. In Rioplatense Spanish, the merged phoneme is generally pronounced as a postalveolar fricative, either voiced (as in English ''measure'' or the French ) in the central and western parts of the dialectal region (), or voiceless (as in the French or Portuguese ) in and around Buenos Aires and Montevideo ().


Morphology

The main Morphology (linguistics), morphological variations between dialects of Spanish involve differing uses of pronouns, especially those of the second Grammatical person, person and, to a lesser extent, the object pronouns of the third Grammatical person, person.


Voseo

Virtually all dialects of Spanish make the T–V distinction, distinction between a formal and a familiar register (sociolinguistics), register in the Grammatical person, second-person Grammatical number, singular and thus have two different pronouns meaning "you": in the formal and either or in the familiar (and each of these three pronouns has its associated verb forms), with the choice of or varying from one dialect to another. The use of (and/or its verb forms) is called . In a few dialects, all three pronouns are used, with , , and denoting respectively formality, familiarity, and intimacy. In , is the Subject (grammar), subject form (, "you say") and the form for the object of a Preposition and postposition, preposition (, "I am going with you"), while the direct and indirect Object (grammar), object forms, and the Possessive adjective, possessives, are the same as those associated with : ("You know your friends respect you"). The verb forms of ''general voseo'' are the same as those used with except in the present grammatical tense, tense (indicative and imperative mood, imperative) verbs. The forms for generally can be derived from those of (the traditional second-person familiar ''plural'') by deleting the semivowel, glide , or , where it appears in the ending: > ; > , () > (), () > () . In Chilean on the other hand, almost all verb forms are distinct from their standard -forms. The use of the pronoun with the verb forms of () is called "pronominal ". Conversely, the use of the verb forms of with the pronoun ( or ) is called "verbal ".
In Chile, for example, ''verbal voseo'' is much more common than the actual use of the pronoun ''vos'', which is usually reserved for highly informal situations. And in Central American , one can see even further distinction.


= Distribution in Spanish-speaking regions of the Americas

= Although is not used in Spain, it occurs in many Spanish-speaking regions of the Americas as the primary spoken form of the second-person singular familiar pronoun, with wide differences in social consideration. Generally, it can be said that there are zones of exclusive use of (the use of ) in the following areas: almost all of Mexico, the West Indies, Panama, most of Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and coastal Ecuador. as a cultured form alternates with as a popular or rural form in Bolivia, in the north and south of Peru, in Andean Ecuador, in small zones of the Venezuelan Andes (and most notably in the Venezuelan state of Zulia), and in a large part of Colombia. Some researchers maintain that can be heard in some parts of eastern Cuba, and others assert that it is absent from the island. exists as the second-person usage with an intermediate degree of formality alongside the more familiar in Chile, in the Venezuelan state of Zulia, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, in the Azuero Peninsula in Panama, in the Mexican state of Chiapas, and in parts of Guatemala. Areas of generalized include Argentina, Nicaragua, eastern Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Uruguay and the Colombian departments of Antioquia Department, Antioquia, Caldas Department, Caldas, Risaralda Department, Risaralda, Quindio and Valle del Cauca.


Ustedes

functions as formal and informal second-person plural in all of Hispanic America, the Canary Islands, and parts of Andalusia. It agrees with verbs in the 3rd person plural. Most of Spain maintains the T-V distinction, formal/familiar distinction with and respectively. The use of with the second person plural is sometimes heard in Andalusia, but it's non-standard.


Usted

is the usual second-person singular pronoun in a formal context, but it is used jointly with the third-person singular voice of the verb. It is used to convey respect toward someone who is a generation older or is of higher authority ("you, sir"/"you, ma'am"). It is also used in a ''familiar'' context by many speakers in Colombia and Costa Rica and in parts of Ecuador and Panama, to the exclusion of or . This usage is sometimes called in Spanish. In Central America, especially in Honduras, is often used as a formal pronoun to convey respect between the members of a romantic couple. is also used that way between parents and children in the Andean regions of Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela.


Third-person object pronouns

Most speakers use (and the prefers) the pronouns and for Direct object#The object in linguistics, ''direct'' objects (masculine and feminine respectively, regardless of animacy, meaning "him", "her", or "it"), and for Direct object#The object in linguistics, ''indirect'' objects (regardless of Grammatical gender, gender or animacy, meaning "to him", "to her", or "to it"). The usage is sometimes called "etymological", as these direct and indirect object pronouns are a continuation, respectively, of the Accusative case, accusative and Dative case, dative pronouns of Latin, the ancestor language of Spanish. Deviations from this norm (more common in Spain than in the Americas) are called "", "", or "", according to which respective pronoun, , , or , has expanded beyond the etymological usage ( as a direct object, or or as an indirect object).


Vocabulary

Some words can be significantly different in different Hispanophone countries. Most Spanish speakers can recognize other Spanish forms even in places where they are not commonly used, but Spaniards generally do not recognize specifically American usages. For example, Spanish , and (respectively, 'butter', 'avocado', 'apricot') correspond to (word used for lard in Peninsular Spanish), , and , respectively, in Argentina, Chile (except ), Paraguay, Peru (except and ), and Uruguay.


Relation to other languages

Spanish is closely related to the other West Iberian languages, West Iberian Romance languages, including Asturian,
Aragonese Aragonese or Aragones may refer to: * Something related to Aragon, an autonomous community and former kingdom in Spain * the Aragonese people, those originating from or living in the historical region of Aragon, in north-eastern Spain * the Aragone ...
,
GalicianGalician may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Galicia (Spain) ** Galician language ** Galician people ** Gallaeci, a large Celtic tribal federation who inhabited Gallaecia (currently Galicia (Spain) * Something of, from, or related to ...
, Ladino language, Ladino, Leonese, Mirandese language, Mirandese and
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
. It is generally acknowledged that Portuguese and Spanish speakers can communicate in written form, with varying degrees of mutual intelligibility. Mutual intelligibility of the ''written'' Spanish and Portuguese languages is remarkably high, and the difficulties of the spoken forms are based more on phonology than on grammatical and lexical dissimilarities. ''Ethnologue'' gives estimates of the lexical similarity between related languages in terms of precise percentages. For Spanish and Portuguese, that figure is 89%. Italian, on the other hand is phonologically similar to Spanish, but has a lower lexical similarity of 82%. Mutual intelligibility between Spanish and or between Spanish and Romanian language, Romanian is lower still, given lexical similarity ratings of 75% and 71% respectively. Comprehension of Spanish by French speakers who have not studied the language is much lower, at an estimated 45%. In general, thanks to the common features of the writing systems of the Romance languages, interlingual comprehension of the written word is greater than that of oral communication. The Spanish vocabulary has been influenced by several languages: As in other European languages, Classical Greek words (Hellenisms) are abundant in several fields, mainly in Art, Science, Politics, Nature, etc. Its vocabulary has also been Arabic language influence on the Spanish language, influenced by Arabic, having developed during the era in the
Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a peni ...

Iberian Peninsula
, with around 8% of its vocabulary having
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
lexical roots.,, It has also been influenced by
Basque Basque may refer to: * Basques The Basques ( or ; eu, euskaldunak ; es, vascos ; french: basques ) are a Southern European ethnic group, characterised by the Basque language, a Basque culture, common culture and shared genetic ancestry to th ...
,
Iberian Iberian refers to Iberia (disambiguation), Iberia. Most commonly Iberian refers to: *Someone or something originating in the Iberian Peninsula, namely from Spain, Portugal and Andorra. The term ''Iberian'' is also used to refer to anything pertain ...
, Celtiberian, Gothic language, Visigothic, and other neighboring Ibero-Romance languages. Additionally, it has absorbed vocabulary from other languages, particularly other Romance languages such as ,
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

Italian
,
Mozarabic Mozarabic, also called Andalusi Romance ( mxi, latino, link=no), was a continuum Continuum may refer to: * Continuum (measurement) Continuum theories or models explain variation as involving gradual quantitative transitions without abrupt ch ...
,
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
,
GalicianGalician may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Galicia (Spain) ** Galician language ** Galician people ** Gallaeci, a large Celtic tribal federation who inhabited Gallaecia (currently Galicia (Spain) * Something of, from, or related to ...
,
Catalan Catalan may refer to: Catalonia From, or related to Catalonia: * Catalan language, a Romance language * Catalans, an ethnic group formed by the people from, or with origins in, Catalonia * Països Catalans, territories where Catalan is spoken * C ...
,
Occitan Occitan (; oc, occitan, link=no ,), also known as ''lenga d'òc'' (; french: langue d'oc) by its native speakers, is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evol ...
, and
SardinianSardinian refers to anything related to the Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean island of Sardinia. More specifically it can refer to: *Sardinian people *History of Sardinia *Sardinian language *Sardinian literature *Music of Sardinia *Cuisine of Sardin ...
, as well as from Quechua language, Quechua, Nahuatl language, Nahuatl, and List of Spanish words of Indigenous American Indian origin, other indigenous languages of the Americas. The following table compares the forms of some common words in several Romance languages:
1. In Romance etymology, Latin terms are given in the Accusative since most forms derive from this case.
2. As in "us very selves", an emphatic expression.
3. Also in early modern Portuguese (e.g. ''The Lusiads''), and in Galician.
4. Alternatively in .
5. in many Southern List of languages of Italy, Italian dialects and languages.
6. Medieval Catalan (e.g. ''Llibre dels fets'').
7. Modified with the learned suffix ''-ción''.
8. Depending on the written norm used (see Reintegrationism).
9. From
Basque Basque may refer to: * Basques The Basques ( or ; eu, euskaldunak ; es, vascos ; french: basques ) are a Southern European ethnic group, characterised by the Basque language, a Basque culture, common culture and shared genetic ancestry to th ...
''esku'', "hand" + ''erdi'', "half, incomplete". Notice that this negative meaning also applies for Latin ''sinistra(m)'' ("dark, unfortunate").
10. Romanian ''caș'' (from Latin ) means a type of cheese. The universal term for cheese in Romanian is ''brânză'' (from unknown etymology).


Judaeo-Spanish

Judaeo-Spanish, also known as Ladino, is a variety of Spanish which preserves many features of medieval Spanish and Portuguese and is spoken by descendants of the Sephardi Jews who were Alhambra decree, expelled from Spain in the 15th century. Conversely, in Portugal the vast majority of the Portuguese Jews converted and became 'New Christians'. Therefore, its relationship to Spanish is comparable with that of the Yiddish language to German language, German. Ladino speakers today are almost exclusively Sephardim, Sephardi Jews, with family roots in Turkey, Greece, or the Balkans, and living mostly in Israel, Turkey, and the United States, with a few communities in Hispanic America. Judaeo-Spanish lacks the Amerindian languages, Native American vocabulary which was acquired by standard Spanish during the Spanish Empire, Spanish colonial period, and it retains many archaic features which have since been lost in standard Spanish. It contains, however, other vocabulary which is not found in standard Spanish, including vocabulary from Hebrew language, Hebrew, French, Greek and Turkish language, Turkish, and other languages spoken where the Sephardim settled. Judaeo-Spanish is in serious danger of extinction because many native speakers today are elderly as well as elderly ''olim'' (immigrants to Israel) who have not transmitted the language to their children or grandchildren. However, it is experiencing a minor revival among Sephardi communities, especially in music. In Latin American communities, the danger of extinction is also due to assimilation by modern Spanish. A related dialect is Haketia, the Judaeo-Spanish of northern Morocco. This too tended to assimilate with modern Spanish, during the Spanish occupation of the region.


Writing system

Spanish is written in the Latin script, with the addition of the character (, representing the phoneme , a letter distinct from , although typographically composed of an with a tilde). Formerly the digraph (orthography), digraphs (, representing the phoneme ) and (, representing the phoneme or ), were also considered single letters. However, the digraph (, 'strong r', , 'double r', or simply ), which also represents a distinct phoneme , was not similarly regarded as a single letter. Since 1994 and have been treated as letter pairs for collation purposes, though they remained a part of the alphabet until 2010. Words with are now alphabetically sorted between those with and , instead of following as they used to. The situation is similar for . Thus, the Spanish alphabet has the following 27 letters: : Since 2010, none of the digraphs () are considered letters by the Royal Spanish Academy. The letters and are used only in words and names coming from foreign languages (, etc.). With the exclusion of a very small number of regional terms such as (see Toponymy of Mexico#Phonetic evolution, Toponymy of Mexico), pronunciation can be entirely determined from spelling. Under the orthographic conventions, a typical Spanish word is stressed on the syllable before the last if it ends with a vowel (not including ) or with a vowel followed by or an ; it is stressed on the last syllable otherwise. Exceptions to this rule are indicated by placing an acute accent on the stress (linguistics), stressed vowel. The acute accent is used, in addition, to distinguish between certain homophones, especially when one of them is a stressed word and the other one is a clitic: compare ('the', masculine singular definite article) with ('he' or 'it'), or ('you', object pronoun) with ('tea'), (preposition 'of') versus ('give' [formal imperative/third-person present subjunctive]), and (reflexive pronoun) versus ('I know' or imperative 'be'). The interrogative pronouns (, , , , etc.) also receive accents in direct or indirect questions, and some demonstratives (, , , etc.) can be accented when used as pronouns. Accent marks used to be omitted on capital letters (a widespread practice in the days of typewriters and the early days of computers when only lowercase vowels were available with accents), although the advises against this and the orthographic conventions taught at schools enforce the use of the accent. When is written between and a front vowel or , it indicates a "Hard and soft G, hard g" pronunciation. A Diaeresis (diacritic), diaeresis indicates that it is not silent as it normally would be (e.g., , 'stork', is pronounced ; if it were written *, it would be pronounced *). Interrogative and exclamatory clauses are introduced with inverted question and exclamation marks ( and , respectively) and closed by the usual question and exclamation marks.


Organizations


Royal Spanish Academy

The Royal Spanish Academy ( es, Real Academia Española), founded in 1713, together with the 21 other national ones (see Association of Spanish Language Academies), exercises a standardizing influence through its publication of dictionaries and widely respected grammar and style guides. Because of influence and for other sociohistorical reasons, a standardized form of the language (Standard Spanish) is widely acknowledged for use in literature, academic contexts and the media.


Association of Spanish Language Academies

The Association of Spanish Language Academies (, or ) is the entity which regulates the Spanish language. It was created in Mexico in 1951 and represents the union of all the separate academies in the Spanish-speaking world. It comprises the academies of 23 countries, ordered by date of Academy foundation: Real Academia Española, Spain (1713), Academia Colombiana de la Lengua, Colombia (1871), Academia Ecuatoriana de la Lengua, Ecuador (1874), Academia Mexicana de la Lengua, Mexico (1875), Academia Salvadoreña de la Lengua, El Salvador (1876), Academia Venezolana de la Lengua, Venezuela (1883), Academia Chilena de la Lengua, Chile (1885), Academia Peruana de la Lengua, Peru (1887), Academia Guatemalteca de la Lengua, Guatemala (1887), Academia Costarricense de la Lengua, Costa Rica (1923), Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española, Philippines (1924), Academia Panameña de la Lengua, Panama (1926), Academia Cubana de la Lengua, Cuba (1926), Academia Paraguaya de la Lengua Española, Paraguay (1927), Academia Dominicana de la Lengua, Dominican Republic (1927), Academia Boliviana de la Lengua, Bolivia (1927), Academia Nicaragüense de la Lengua, Nicaragua (1928), Academia Argentina de Letras, Argentina (1931), Academia Nacional de Letras, del Uruguay, Uruguay (1943), Academia Hondureña de la Lengua, Honduras (1949), Academia Puertorriqueña de la Lengua Española, Puerto Rico (1955), North American Academy of the Spanish Language, United States (1973) and Academia Ecuatoguineana de la Lengua Española, Equatorial Guinea (2016).


Cervantes Institute

The (Cervantes Institute) is a worldwide nonprofit organization created by the Spanish government in 1991. This organization has branched out in over 20 different countries, with 75 centers devoted to the Spanish and Hispanic American cultures and Spanish language. The ultimate goals of the Institute are to promote universally the education, the study, and the use of Spanish as a second language, to support methods and activities that help the process of Spanish-language education, and to contribute to the advancement of the Spanish and Hispanic American cultures in non-Spanish-speaking countries. The institute's 2015 report "El español, una lengua viva" (Spanish, a living language) estimated that there were 559 million Spanish speakers worldwide. Its latest annual report
El español en el mundo 2018
(Spanish in the world 2018) counts 577 million Spanish speakers worldwide. Among the sources cited in the report is the United States Census Bureau, U.S. Census Bureau, which estimates that the U.S. will have 138 million Spanish speakers by 2050, making it the biggest Spanish-speaking nation on earth, with Spanish the mother tongue of almost a third of its citizens.Stephen Burgen
US now has more Spanish speakers than Spain – only Mexico has more
, US News, 29 June 2015.


Official use by international organizations

Spanish is one of the official languages of the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other organizations through formal ...

United Nations
, the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
, the World Trade Organization, the
Organization of American States The Organization of American States (OAS; es, Organización de los Estados Americanos, pt, Organização dos Estados Americanos, french: Organisation des États américains; ''OEA'') is an international organization that was founded on 30 April ...

Organization of American States
, the Organization of Ibero-American States, the
African Union The African Union (AU) is a continental union A continental union is a regional organization which facilitates pan-continental integration. Continental unions vary from collaborative intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental organiza ...

African Union
, the
Union of South American Nations The Union of South American Nations (USAN; es, links=no, Unión de Naciones Suramericanas, UNASUR; pt, links=no, União de Nações Sul-Americanas, UNASUL; nl, links=no, Unie van Zuid-Amerikaanse Naties, UZAN; and sometimes referred to as t ...
, the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat, the Latin Union, the Caricom, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Inter-American Development Bank, and numerous other international organizations.


See also

* Fundéu BBVA * List of Spanish-language poets * Spanish as a second or foreign language * Spanish-language literature * Spanish-language music


Spanish words and phrases

* Cuento * List of English–Spanish interlingual homographs * Longest word in Spanish * Most common words in Spanish * Spanish profanity * Spanish proverbs


Spanish-speaking world

* List of countries where Spanish is an official language, Countries where Spanish is an official language * Hispanic culture * Hispanicization * Hispanidad * Hispanism * Panhispanism


Influences on the Spanish language

* Arabic influence on the Spanish language * List of Spanish words of Germanic origin * List of Spanish words of Philippine origin


Dialects and languages influenced by Spanish

* Caló language, Caló * Chamorro language, Chamorro * Frespañol * Llanito * Palenquero * Papiamento * Philippine languages * Chavacano * Portuñol * Spanglish * Media Lengua * List of English words of Spanish origin


Spanish dialects and varieties

* Spanish dialects and varieties * European Spanish ** Andalusian Spanish ** Canarian Spanish ** Castrapo (Galician Spanish) ** Castúo (Extremaduran Spanish) ** Murcian Spanish * Spanish in the Americas ** North American Spanish ** Central American Spanish ** Caribbean Spanish ** Spanish language in South America, South American Spanish ** Spanish language in the United States, Spanish in the United States * Spanish in Africa ** Equatoguinean Spanish ** Saharan Spanish * Spanish in Asia ** Spanish language in the Philippines, Spanish in the Philippines


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


External links

; Organizations
Real Academia Española (RAE)
Royal Spanish Academy. Spain's official institution, with a mission to ensure the stability of the Spanish language

Cervantes Institute. A Spanish government agency, responsible for promoting the study and the teaching of the Spanish language and culture.
FundéuRAE
Foundation of Emerging Spanish. A non-profit organization with collaboration of the RAE which mission is to clarify doubts and ambiguities of Spanish. ; Educational websites
ProfeDeEle
Exercises targeted toward Spanish language teachers (ELE)
AprenderEspanol
Spanish activities and material {{DEFAULTSORT:Spanish Language Spanish language, Fusional languages Languages of Argentina Languages of Bolivia Languages of Chile Languages of Colombia Languages of Costa Rica Languages of Cuba Languages of the Dominican Republic Languages of Ecuador Languages of El Salvador Languages of Equatorial Guinea Languages of Guatemala Languages of Honduras Languages of Mexico Languages of Nicaragua Languages of Panama Languages of Paraguay Languages of Peru Languages of Puerto Rico Languages of Spain Languages of the United States Languages of Uruguay Languages of Venezuela Subject–verb–object languages