The Spanish Language has it roots in the Latin that was brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Romans. After the disintegration of the Roman Empire, the territory experienced the Muslim invasion for seven centuries. Over the time, the territory was finally recovered and unified by a single language: castellano (Castilian). This language unification happened just in time to embark itself to be spread in the New World.
Learning the history of how the Spanish language evolved from its beginnings to become the third most spoken language in the word is absolutely fascinating. In general, learning the historical background about any subject makes it more relevant and meaningful.
Here are some suggestions of Spanish history books you will find remarkable if you like history and love languages. Make your choice!
4 Books About the History of the Spanish Language
The Story of Spanish
by Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow
Recently released, this book has a special approach and the key lies in its title: The Story of Spanish. Written as a “story” not as a history textbook it tells how the Spanish language evolved chronologically. From the tribes that settled in the Iberian Peninsula, through the rule of the Roman Empire that brought in the Latin language; then the Muslim invasion and to the Americas. But the story is just beginning because it goes on telling how the Spanish language continues gaining strength to “become the common tongue of 450 million people in 22 countries, and the unofficial second language of the United States.”
La andadura del español por el mundo
by Humberto López Morales
This book won the 2nd Isabel Polanco Essay Prize in 2010.
The author covers the historical aspect of how the Spanish language was formed. The starting point of this books is the period when the Castilian language was already growing roots around the Spanish kingdom in Europe and how it spread by all new territories dominated by Spain in the Americas. The second part takes a deeper look at the current situation of the Spanish language such as the influence of English and the dialectal variations of different Spanish-speaking countries. It’s packed with interesting notes, some statistics and maps.
The Evolution of Spanish
by Thomas A. Lathrop
Do not be misled by the cartoons on the cover, this is a serious book that focuses specifically on the Spanish historical grammar. In three chapters, the author covers the importance of the Classical and Vulgar Latin in the development of the Spanish language, plus the grammatical and phonetic changes from Vulgar Latin to modern Spanish. The book is full of examples that illustrate those changes which are then grouped in an index at the end of the book. The Spanish-English Glossary is also useful to understand the words you are not familiar with including the Old Spanish ones.
Written by the chairman of the Department of Romance Languages and Literature of the University of Florida, this book was meant to fulfill the “needs of a one-semester college course.”
The book is divided in nine chapters beginning with the one called “Language Change” that explains the concepts about language transformation with a lot of examples focusing, of course, on Spanish. But the real history develops from the chapter 2 through chapter 7 where the author takes you from the “genealogy of Spanish” to “Modern Spanish.” Each chapter ends with a set of questions that will help you assess what you have learned. In addition, the book includes a glossary of linguistic terms and maps.
Can you share with us any other book titles about the history of the Spanish language?
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