Known as a popular European vacation and backpacking destination, Spain one of the world’s oldest cultures with a rich heritage. It’s world renowned for fabulous cuisine, breathtaking scenery, and rolling good times. Spain has influenced entire continents with its gravitating culture, and while many may think that they know about Spanish culture, there are some interesting, little-known facts about the Spanish language that may be surprising. It is the birthplace of matadors, Spanish guitar and famous painter, Pablo Picasso, and of course the Spanish language. On that note, let’s look at these 10 interesting facts about the Spanish language.
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1: SPANISH IS THE LANGUAGE OF 500 MILLION PEOPLE
The Spanish language, follows right after Chinese, holding second place as the most popular language spoken around the world, with more native speakers. Spanish originated in Spain, but today it is spoken all throughout the western hemisphere and in some places in Africa and Asia.
2: SPANISH IS THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF 22 COUNTRIES
Today, Spanish makes up almost one-fifth of the world’s official languages. This means that almost 16% percent of countries today have Spanish as the official language, which is the most geographically spoken language just behind English. Jeez, that’s a lot of countries!
3: SPANISH WAS KNOWN AS CASTELLANO
Speakers of Spanish often refer to their language as español. But, you may be surprised to know that Spanish has also been called Castellano, meaning “Castilian” in Spanish. This is because Spanish originated in the Castile region of Spain, so this is why español is sometimes referred to as Castellano in the language itself.
4: SPANISH IS INFLUENCED BY THE ARABIC LANGUAGE
After Latin, one of the biggest cultural language influences on Spanish is Arabic, with about 4,000 words of Arab origin. Spanish dates all the way back in history to a time when there was a heavy Arabic presence in Spain that lasted for centuries. This language spread resulted in the absorption of many Arabic words by Spanish speakers.
5: SPANISH IS THE THIRD MOST USED LANGUAGE ON THE INTERNET
Spanish is used by 7.9% of people on the internet, making it the second most popular language of popular social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter. This is also the same for Wikipedia, where Spanish is the second language of importance in terms of number of users who visit and use the site.
6: THERE ARE ALMOST 40 MILLION NATIVE SPANISH SPEAKERS IN THE U.S.
No, we aren’t kidding. The U.S. is growing in Spanish speakers at a faster rate than English speakers. It would be silly to not put a greater focus on learning Spanish, as it will be just as going important as English, expected to reach around 132.8 million speakers by the year 2050.
7: SPANISH GRAMMAR WAS FIRST CREATED BY ELIO ANTONIO DE NEBRIJA AND PUBLISHED IN 1492, THE SAME TIME CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS DISCOVERED AMERICA
Yes, that’s right, when the US was first being discovered, Spanish was developing its own grammar system, first created by Elio Antonio de Nebrija in 1492. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw the conformation and consolidation of the Spanish language format and pronunciation.
8: SPANISH IS THE SECOND MOST STUDIED LANGUAGE IN THE WORLD
Besides being a popular language requirement in school, in 2010 Spanish was the second most studied language in the world with more than 20 million people. Whoa!
9: SPANISH IS A ROMANCE LANGUAGE
Romance languages come from the Ibero-Romance group. They are also known as Latin languages because many of the modern languages, which evolved from several languages and dialects of Latin between the sixth and the ninth centuries A.D., thus, spawning the Spanish language.
10: THE LARGEST POPULATION OF SPANISH SPEAKERS AT 114 MILLION IS IN MEXICO
It’s no surprise that Mexico has the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world, with around 114 million, followed by other countries including Colombia, Spain and Argentina. These countries are home to an array of Spanish dialects, which are vastly different between local and village speakers.
So there you have it – 10 awesome facts about Spain! This list was pretty interesting to put together. Spanish is not only a language, it’s the heart of a culture with a rich historical influence. In the coming year, it’s clear that the Spanish language and culture are only going to have a greater influence on society and quite honestly, I’d place all my money Spanish 100% if I were to bet on a language stock on good ol’ Wall Street! If you’re struggling to learn Spanish, or planning a trip soon to a predominantly Spanish-speaking country, you may find our blog post on popular languages spoken in Europe helpful.