You probably already know that Spanish is a romance language, just like French, Portuguese, and Italian. As one of the most common secondary languages for native English speakers to learn, Spanish has a fascinating history. Spanish goes by a few other names: español, castellano, and Castilian. The name is different depending on who you’re talking to, what region they’re from, and their political perspective.
Development through history
As a romance language, modern Spanish originated from a dialect of Latin, in the Iberian Peninsula. From there the language has gone through thousands of years of transformation and influence. This includes the Germanic influence of the Visigoths’ rule, as well as the Moors’ Arabic influence afterward.
It wasn’t until Spain was unified by monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand that Spanish really took hold. They made Spanish the official language of their conquered territories and required everyone to speak it. This was a turning point for the language. Another critical point was when Francisco Franco made Spanish the official language of Spain during World War 2.
Today, the language is spoken throughout the globe with over 400 million native Spanish speakers. It is the most taught second language in United States schools. Spanish is the official language of all South American countries except two, as well as many countries in other parts of the world.
Grammar and more
As a phonetic language, Spanish speakers automatically know how to pronounce a word by looking at it. The spelling and sound of a word are directly related to each other. This is one of the reasons Spanish is easier to learn than other languages.
Spanish is a gendered language. That means that most nouns have a gender, and the adjective or article used to describe them must follow. Usually, you can tell which words are feminine because it uses a la article and ends in -a. For example, la manzana (apple) and la casa (house) are both feminine. Masculine words, on the other hand, will use the article el and end in -o or -dor. So el perro (dog) and el libro (book) are both masculine. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. There are also some words that have both masculine and feminine forms, such as amigo/amiga (friend).
English and Spanish have hundreds of cognates, or words that have a common origin, in common. Some examples are radio and tropical, which are spelled the same in both languages. So, if you’re reading this post, you already have a leg up on learning Spanish! Take the plunge and build on your/your kids’ knowledge with Spanish stories.