When we speak about the most popular languages in the world, Spanish most probably comes to our minds, among others. Not to mention that it is often attributed as one of the most melodic and beautiful languages.
Spanish has seen a notable increase in use thanks to numerous Spanish-speaking countries and their inhabitants, the use of Spanish language in business, and even its growing popularity in the music industry. Being one of the oldest cultures, we can’t overlook the importance of the Spanish language.
So, what do you really know about this fascinating language?
We asked ourselves the same questions and surfaced following interesting facts about the Spanish.
1. 21 countries have Spanish as the official language
Spanish is an official or one of the official languages in 21 sovereign countries. These countries spread across Europe, Central, South and North America, and Africa. The only country in Africa with Spanish as the official language is Equatorial Guinea.
What this means is that Spanish is used in documents, official correspondence, schools, and more.
Being one of the most significant languages in the world, Spanish was adopted by the United Nations as one of their official languages. Other international organizations and companies have done the same.
2. Over 500 million people speak Spanish
Right after Chinese, Spanish is the most popular language in the world. With over 500 million speakers, Spanish is attracting more and more attention of international students.
If you are surprised that English isn’t more popular than Spanish, that’s because there are 335 million English native speakers, which is notably less than Spanish. However, the Chinese language holds first place with over a billion speakers.
3. Spanish is a Romance language
Spanish belongs to the group of Indo-European languages or to be more specific, Romance languages. Italian, French, Catalan, Portuguese, and Romanian also classify as Romance languages.
This can come in handy for learners who speak one of the Romance languages. The similarities between them can help them learn Spanish more quickly.
4. Spanish derives from Latin
Spanish originated from the Iberian Peninsula from a particular dialect of spoken Latin. That dialect was referred to as Vulgar Latin.
Romans brought Latin to the Iberian Peninsula during the Second Punic War, beginning in 218 BC. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire (5th century) this dialect developed in the central-northern region of the Iberian Peninsula.
5. Some Spanish words have Arab origin
Besides Latin, Arabic also had a significant cultural language influence on Spanish. Around 4,000 Spanish words originated from Arabic.
In 711, when Arabs conquered the Iberian Peninsula, Arabic culture and language started mixing with Spanish. Even though Spanish took back their power in 1492, around 8,000 Arabic words were preserved in the Spanish language. Some of those words are la almohada (pillow) and el alfombra (carpet).
6. Spanish is a phonetic language
All new Spanish language learners will be happy to hear that Spanish is a phonetic language. What does that mean, you ask? Well, it means that each letter represents a specific sound.
With consistent pronunciation of letters and a direct link between letters and sounds, Spanish isn’t challenging in terms of spelling. The simplicity of pronunciation makes the language very appealing to learn.
7. Spanish is the most popular foreign language in the US
Students in grade school and higher education put Spanish in the number one place when it comes to learning a second language. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as there are 43 million Spanish speakers in the US.
The United States Census Bureau predicts that the number will keep rising. By 2050, it is expected that there will be 132.8 million Hispanics in the US.
8. Spanish is the 3rd most used language on the internet
Almost 8% of people on the internet use the Spanish language. Which puts Spanish in the 3rd place of most used language on the internet.
From Google searches to social media platforms, Spanish is used all around. Moreover, Spanish is the second most important language on Wikipedia in terms of people who visit the website.
9. Spanish speakers refer to their language in two different ways
Aside from español, Spanish is also referred to as castellano. In Spanish, castellano means “Castilian.” Why Castilian? Because the language originated from the Castle region.
“Castilian Spanish” is used for different nuances. In Spain, it is usually used to distinguish the Spanish dialects spoken in the northern and central parts of the country. However, “Castilian Spanish” is sometimes also used to differentiate the Spanish language spoken in Spain (Castillian) and Latin American Spanish (Spanish).
10. The first modern novel was written in Spanish
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, a novel praised in the whole world was the first modern novel, and it was written in Spanish.
This incredible novel is also the second most translated book. The only book that managed to overpower Don Quixote is the Bible.
11. Spanish grammar was created in 1492
The year 1492 – sounds familiar right? Of course, it does, because that’s the year when Cristofer Columbus discovered America.
For Spaniards, this year is relevant for a different reason. 1492 was the year when Elio Antonio de Nebrija created and published the Spanish grammar. Later on, in the 16th and 17th century, there were some conformations of the pronunciation and language format.
12. Spanish was the diplomatic language up to the 18th century
How fascinating it is that Spanish was the only language of diplomacy until the 18th century? Not English, not French, not Italian, but Spanish.
In fact, France, Italy, and England had to edit their grammars and dictionaries to learn Spanish. This was the time of the Golden Age that flourished because of the literary splendor represented by authors such as Quevedo, Cervantes, Lope de Vega, and Góngora.
13. Spanish is the only language with inverted question and exclamation marks
Anyone who has seen a question or exclamatory sentence in Spanish must have noticed these signs – ¿ and ¡. These punctuation marks are used solely in the Spanish language.
They are positioned at the beginning of the sentence while the regular question mark and exclamation mark are placed at the end. In 1668, it was suggested by some authors that inverted punctuation marks should be used in the English language to denote irony. However, the idea didn’t catch on.
There you have it – 13 interesting facts about Spanish that only prove how fascinating this language truly is. With its melodic sound and widespread use, there is no wonder that more and more people want to start learning Spanish.
Bio: Eugenia Winits is a freelance writer and blogger. She focuses on lifestyle topics and aims at helping her readers be the active creators of their daily routines. She currently works as a writer at Trustmypaper. The texts she writes are always informative, based on qualitative research but nevertheless pleasant to read.