Learning the Spanish languages

Category: Student Tips

Spanish (español) or Castilian (castellano) is the official language of the entire State of Spain according to the Spanish Constitution of 1978.  Spaniards are likely to use the term español when differentiating it with languages of other countries such as English or French however call it castellano when distinguishing it with other languages or dialect in Spain such as Basque, Galician, and Valencian.

The Spanish language was developed from Vulgar Latin, through major Arabic influences at some point in the Andalusian period.  It made its way along the isolated areas of the Northern Spain such as Alava, Burgos, Cantabria, La Rioja and Soria.  This northern dialect from Cantabria was brought south during the Reconquista and remained a minority language for some northern regions of Morocco.  During the golden era of Spanish colonization, the language was carried to the Americas and East Indies.  For most part of the 16th and 17th centuries, Spanish became the chief language of Politics and Art across Europe.

The consonant system of the language Spanish has undergone various important changes during the 16th century making it more distinguishable from other Romance languages such as Portuguese and Catalan.  Spanish and Italian have an extremely similar phonological system.  Their grammars are very much alike.  Spanish is written using the Latin alphabet with the inclusion of the character “ñ” (eñe) as well as the diagraphs “ll” (elle) and “ch” (che).  Consequently, the conventional Spanish alphabet consists of 28 letters, a total of 29 if “w” is included which is merely used in loanwords and foreign names:

a, b, c, ch, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, ll, m, n, ñ, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z.

Today, 21 countries use Spanish as their principal language including most Latin American nations and Equatorial Guinea.    Between 322 and 400 million people speak the Spanish language worldwide making it the most spoken Romance language.

Basque

Basque or euskara is the language used by people who occupied Pyrenees located in North-Central Spain and the neighboring province of South-Western France.  It is spoken by an estimated a quarter of the Basques population – eastern Guipúzcoa, northwestern Navarre and the meagerly populated Soule and French Lower Navarre.

There are 6 major Basque dialects – Bizkaian, Gipuzkoan, Lapurdian, and Upper Navarrese (in Spain), and Lower Navarrese, and Zuberoan (in France).  Nevertheless, the dialect limitations are not congruent with political boundaries.  The most broadly used standardized vernacular is Batua (“unified” in Basque), which is the language taught in majority of the schools and used on media and official documents.

Valencian

The historical, conventional, and official spoken language in the Valencian Community of Spain is referred to as Valencian which is also identified elsewhere as Catalan (català).  Every university coaching Roman languages consider Valencia and Catalan linguistic variations of the same language like Canadian French and Metropolitan French.  But various theories and political arguments have been the topic of many debates separating Valencian from Catalan.  The official and state-bound body regulating Valencian orthography, Academia Valenciana de la Llengua (AVL), states that the Valencian and Catalan are the similar languages.  The AVL polices and procedures are indeed followed by public organizations such as schools or universities.

Sub-varieties of the Valencian language includes: Transitional Valencian or Tortosí; Castellonen; Central or apitxat; Southern; and Alacantí.

Check out our list of Spanish Language Schools to study Spanish in any one of these regions!