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Spanish: The official language of 20 countries

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10 facts about Spanish

01

Spanish is spoken by nearly 559 million people worldwide, primarily native speakers although many also speak S as a second or an additional foreign language.

02

People who speak Spanish may call it Español, but it is also known as Castilian (Castellano).

03

Spanish is a very phonetic language. Although you may know how a word is pronounced, it is sometimes difficult to understand how it is spelled.

04

Spanish is the 3rd most-used language on the Internet, with 256.8 million users. The use of Spanish on the Internet has grown by 1,312.4% from 2000 to 2015.

05

Nouns that end in “a” are usually feminine. However, if nouns start with an “a”, they take the masculine article el to avoid combining the same vowels.

06

Spanish uses inverted exclamation and question marks. For example, Jose, ¿adónde vas? is the question “Jose, where are you going?”

07

The Royal Spanish Academy has authority over the language. It operates several language academies throughout the world.

08

Roughly 8% of the Spanish vocabulary has its origins in Arabic words.

09

Spanish is expected to be the first language of 50% of the population of the United States within 50 years.

10

Many words have completely different meanings depending on which syllable is stressed.

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Origin of the language

The Spanish language originated from Vulgar Latin and was developed in the central-northern region of the Iberian Peninsula.

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History of the language

Spanish emerged in 210 BC, following the demise of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century.

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Learning the language

An English speaker could need anywhere from 350 to 575 hours to learn Spanish.

Spanish language diversity

Spanish is the official language of 20 countries. It is spoken in Puerto Rico, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Colombia.

Although the Spanish of each of these countries differs in its pronunciation and vocabulary, the two major variants of Spanish are Mexican Spanish (MX) and Spanish (LATAM) in Latin America. Between these variants, there are many differences that reflect just how diverse the scope of Spanish all around the world is.

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Did you know?

The most prominent variation among the dialects in terms of grammar is in how second-person pronouns are used.

The Spanish dialect used in Arab-occupied Spain before the 12th century was called Mozarabic.

The Seseo dialect is typically associated with Spanish dialects spoken in Latin America and on the Canary Islands.

Several Latin American variants of Spanish show considerable lexical influence from Native American languages.

Distinción is a dialect that differentiates between the sounds [θ] and [s], primarily in Spain.

The Ceceo dialect is found mainly in Andalusia in southern Spain.

Spanish language for beginners

Ten basic words to start learning in Spanish:

Maze or labyrinth: Dédalo
The scent of the earth after rain: Petricor
Serendipity: Serendipia
Pretty: bonita
Young lady: Señorita
Love: amor
To smile: sonreîr
To enchant: encantar
To dance: bailar
Sweet: dulce

Quotes

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

Pablo Picasso

Painter and sculptor

For prayer is nothing else than being in terms of friendship with God.

Saint Teresa of Avila

Noblewoman and saint

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

George Santayana

Philosopher

Fun facts about the Spanish language

Complex words

Some Spanish words cannot be translated into a single word in English. An example is empalagarse which means feeling sick because your food is too sweet, but it is also used figuratively, as in romantic situations.

First Spanish literature

The first literary piece in Spanish is called El Cantar de Mio Cid, dating back to the 13th century. The author of the work is unknown.

English words added

Several English words have been incorporated into Spanish in the 20th century and have become part of the daily vocabulary, such as suéter (sweater) and fútbol (football).

Spelling September properly

In modern Spanish, September may be spelled Septiembre or Setiembre. However, the latter is considered to be a vulgar or informal version of the word.

Only one truly Spanish letter

The letter “ñ” is the only Spanish letter of Spanish origin.

First written Spanish

The first written records in Spanish are the Glosas Emilianenses, and they date back to 964 CE.

Well-known Spanish phrase

There is a well-known Spanish phrase that translates as "holding someone's hair" (tomarle el pelo a alguien), and it means to mock someone with false compliments or promises.

Different ways to say “I love you”

There are two different Spanish phrases to express "I love you" which are Te Amo and Te Quiero. The first is said between lovers or close family members, and the second does not usually have a romantic meaning.

“H” instead of “F”

Some words that begin with "f" in other Romance languages start with "h" in Spanish. For example, ferrum (Latin: iron) and hierro (Spanish: iron).

La persona is Feminine

If taken literally, the word la persona (person) is feminine, even though it may refer to a man or woman.

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