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13 Cool and Interesting Facts About the Spanish Language

We are only a few hours away from El Día E, the big celebration of everyone who speaks Spanish. If you are a native Spanish speaker or made the choice to learn it… CONGRATULATIONS! To close this worldwide celebration, here are 13 cool and interesting facts about the Spanish language.

 

13 Cool and Interesting Facts About the Spanish Language: Infographic Poster

(Scroll down for the full text version and sources)

Facts About the Spanish Language

 

13 Cool and Interesting Facts About the Spanish Language: Full text and sources

1. Spanish is spoken by 500 million people with a growing trend that will reach 600 million speakers by 2050. –Source: Instituto Cervantes

2. Spanish was the diplomatic language up to the 18th century. –Source: BBC

3. There have been 11 Literature Nobel Prizes in Spanish:

José Echegaray (Spain, 1904) Browse his work »
Jacinto Benavente (Spain, 1922)
Gabriela Mistral (Chile, 1945)
Juan Ramón Jiménez (Spain, 1956)
Miguel Ángel Asturias (Guatemala, 1967)
Pablo Neruda (Chile, 1971)
Vicente Aleixandre (Spain, 1977)
Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia, 1982)
Camilo José Cela (Spain, 1989)
Octavio Paz (Mexico, 1990)
Mario Vargas Llosa (Spain -born in Perú-, 2010).

– Source: Instituto Cervantes and Wikipedia

4. Spanish is the second most studied language in the world. In 2010, the number of people studying Spanish as a second language was more than 20 million. In three generations, 10% of the world population will be able to communicate in Spanish. –Source: Instituto Cervantes

5. There are more than 40,000 words and conjugations in Spanish with all 5 vowels. They are called panvocálicas or pentavocálicas. But curiously, neither of these two terms are defined in the Royal Spanish Academy Dictionary (DRAE). –Source: SoloSeQueNoSeNada.com

6. After Latin, the language that has had the biggest influence on Spanish is Arabic. Today, the foreign language exerting the most influence is English. –Source: About.com

7. Mexico contains the largest population of Spanish speakers with 114 million followed by the United States with 50 million. –Source: Wikipedia

8. One language with two names. Some countries use the term español and others prefer to use castellano to refer to Spanish. –Source: Wikipedia

9. In 2005, the National Congress of Brazil approved a bill, signed into law by the President, making Spanish language teaching mandatory in both public and private secondary schools in Brazil. –Source: Wikipedia

10. The United States has almost 40 million native Spanish speakers. By 2050 it will become the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. There are more Spanish speakers in the United States than there are speakers of Chinese, French, Italian, Hawaiian, and the Native American languages combined. –Source: Instituto Cervantes

11. Las Glosas Emilianenses (Glosses of Saint Emilianus) was the first written Spanish record dating back to 964. It is the first known document, consisting of notes in both Spanish and Basque in the margins of a religious manuscript in Latin. The first literary work fully written in Spanish was El Cantar del Mio Cid, an anonymous poem from the 12th century. –Source: BBC

12. Spanish is the official language of 22 countries and the second largest native language in the world, the second language used for international communication and the third most used language on the Internet. –Source: Wikipedia and Instituto Cervantes

13. The first Spanish grammar was created by Elio Antonio de Nebrija and published in 1492, the same year Columbus discovered America. –Source: BBC

 

Click here for more fun facts about the Spanish Language

11 Useless Fun Facts About Spanish: Spanish Language Day Infographic

This post is part of the series Warming up for El Día E: Posts to Improve Your Spanish. El Día E is a world-wide celebration of the Spanish Language that will take place on June 23th, 2012. It was updated in August 2014.

Check out these other articles about the Spanish Language.






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  • Joan Hoffman

    Nebrija’s grammar was also the first grammar written of any vulgar language–that is, a language spoken by the non-educated–as in not Latin or Greek.

  • Michaela Nguyen

    Ø
    Spanish is one of the world’s most phonetic languages. If you
    know how a word is spelled, you can almost always know how it is pronounced
    (although the reverse isn’t true). The main exception is recent words of
    foreign origin, which usually retain their original spelling.

    • http://www.speakinglatino.com/ Jared

      Michaela,

      You are exactly right, that’s an astute comment. One of the most surprising items I hear from Spanish speakers learning English is that the written words in English may or may not have a relationship to how their pronounced. In other words, it is not possible to know how to pronounce a word by looking at it, which is the opposite, as you mention, for Spanish.

  • Michaela Nguyen

    Spanish and English share much of their vocabulary through cognates, as both languages derive many of their words from Latin and Arabic. The biggest differences in the grammar of the two languages include Spanish’s use of gender, a more extensive verb conjugation and the widespread use of the subjunctive mood.

  • Michaela Nguyen

    The demand for Spanish courses had doubled worldwide in 10 years.

  • Michaela Nguyen

    Spanish is sometimes called La Lengua de Cervantes or the language of Cervantes after Miguel de Cervantes, who wrote the story of Don Quixote

  • steph sierra

    I would disagree with “8. All countries from Central America, except El Salvador, use the termespañol to refer to Spanish and all the countries from South America, except for Colombia, use the term castellano. –Source: Wikipedia”

    I’m colombian and we use both spanish and castellano interchangeably

    • Camilo Zuleta Gaviria

      Hmm not really, at least not anymore

  • Adrián Buzzetti

    El término “español” es un barbarismo introducido por la incapacidad de los angloparlantes para prununciar “catillian”, tal como hablamos de “chino” para referirnos a numerosos dialectos. El lenguaje en que fue compuesto el Cid y el Quijote es la lengua de Castilla, por lo tanto el idioma que hablamos los “hispano”-parlantes es el castellano. Lo hablen en Estados Unidos de Norteamérica, en Los Estados Unidos de México o en los de Brasil. Todos los americanos que hablamos esta lengua, hablamos Castellano. Lo que no quita la generosidad de facilitarle las cosas a los angloparlates y conceder el uso de un término que es impropio.

    • panochita

      Tengo noticias para ti..lo que fue incorrecto en el 1530 no necesariamente lo sigue siendo..La lengua evoluciona y el termino español es aceptado por la RAE. Quizá fue un barbarismo hace tiempo, pero ahora es oficialmente aceptado, temo que perdiste la batalla.

      • Adrián Buzzetti

        ¿Tu estabas peleando? Yo no.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Md4hghTR-XA

        Y en cualquier caso, junto con tener la suerte de tener una academia de la lengua, también debemos decir que no siempre ha estado a la altura que, por sus normas, ella misma se ha impuesto. La equivocidad es algo que se debiera evitar, y confundir el gentilicio con el nombre de la lengua genera problemas. Claramente se solucionan con “el contexto”, pero esa vía de solución es muy pobre -y empobrecedora-. Pasa lo mismo con el término huevón. Es admitido por la RAE, pero ¿significa eso que es querido?
        Hay que limpiar ese desastre…

        • panochita

          con “Perdiste la batalla” no me refiero conmigo, sino con tu lucha por hacer que la palabra español no sea reconocida como sinónimo de castellano..ya supéralo, barbarismo o no, ya es correcto

        • panochita

          La lengua tiene vida propia, es inútil que te esfuerces por limpiar esos desastres…

    • david lopez

      Ni idea sobre el tema. El castellano, para ser exactos, es el dialecto de Castilla antes de la aparición del español como lengua, influenciada por el leonés y navarro-aragonés.

      – Academia Argentina de la Lengua: “En el uso general las denominaciones «castellano» y «español» son equivalentes. No obstante, es preferible, en razón de una más adecuada
      precisión terminológica, reservar el tradicional nombre de «castellano» para referirse al dialecto de Castilla anterior a la unificación, y llamar «español» -como internacionalmente se hace- a la lengua que desdeentonces lleva en sí, junto al viejo tronco, los múltiples aportes que otros pueblos de España y de América han dado al «castellano»”

      – Diccionario panhispánico de dudas: “Para designar la lengua común de España y de muchas naciones de América, y que también se habla como propia en otras partes del mundo, son válidos los términos castellano y español. La polémica sobre cuál de estas denominaciones resulta más apropiada está hoy superada […] Aun siendo sinónimo de español, resulta preferible reservar el término castellano
      para referirse al dialecto románico nacido en el Reino de Castilla
      durante la Edad Media, o al dialecto del español que se habla
      actualmente en esa región.”

      Y por cierto, un angloparlante no tiene ningún problema para pronunciar Castillian, como no tiene problemas para pronunciar castle, Gillian o palabras que involucren esos sonidos.

    • http://duxdoctus.tumblr.com/ duxdoctus

      Llego un año tarde pero acabo de encontrar esta entrada ahora mismo, así que voy a dejar mi opinión también:

      1. Da igual qué uses, ambas palabras son válidas porque cada uno dice lo que quiere.

      2. «Español» es la más recomendable porque carece de ambigüedad y engloba a todas las variedades del español.

      3. «Castellano» se usa para varias cosas: a) lengua romance que surge del latín; 2. variedad del español hablada en Castilla; c) lengua española frente a las otras lenguas de España (un catalán habla catalán y castellano) y, por esta razón, la Constitución Española considera la lengua oficial del Estado el «castellano» porque se considera como «español» el castellano, el catalán, el gallego y el vasco (para no caer en ambigüedad).

      4. En Latinoamérica dicen tanto castellano como español. Ahora bien, es sabido que los círculos de la intelectualidad se usa más el término «español».

      5. También conviene «español» porque TODAS las lenguas dicen, en su idioma, «español».

      6. Desde el punto de vista lingüístico, «español» es el nombre de la lengua y castellano es el dialecto histórico o la variedad propia de Castilla.

    • Margaret Nahmias

      Usamos el termino Castillan para referirnos al dialecto del centro y norte de España

  • panochita

    Lesson learned for speakinglatino: since there are so many arrogant assholes who think they are absolutely right about everything I think it’t time to no to publish any “fun facts” anymore, I wonder if in other languages we have that many language-nazis?

    • Adrián Buzzetti

      Well, my fair lady, it seems to me that you think that you are absolutely right about this topic. What can we call you? Opinion-nazi?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNDaOFQ6g2I

      • panochita

        LOL Where did I ever try to push my opinion down your throat like you are doing in this forum? More than anything I’m just saying that people take these topics way too seriously, so lighten up buddy

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