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Spanish Language

History of the Spanish language. Moreover, you will find other useful resources about Spanish like words, schools, Spanish literature and more

History of the Spanish Language

The Spanish language is the product of more than a thousand years of development, over which period the diverse languages of the inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula were modified by the influence of Roman and Arab invasions. At the close of the fifteenth century, with the union of the monarchies of Castilla and Aragon, which extended their dominion over the largest part of the peninsula, the language of Castilla - el castellano - became imposed over the other idioms and dialects and crossed the Atlantic on the ships of discoverers, conquistadors and missionaries.

The language was brought to the Americas, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Marianas, Palau and the Philippines, by the Spanish colonization since the 16th century.

The Vulgar Latin spoken by Roman armies and settlers in ancient Spain formed the basis of the many Spanish dialects that developed in the various regions of the country during the Middle Ages. The dialect of Castile, or Castilian Spanish, gradually became the accepted standard as Castile gained political dominance in the 13th century.

While the majority of Spanish words derive from Latin, many are taken from other sources; for example, pre-Latin languages such as Greek, Basque, and Celtic. The invasion of the Visigoths early in the 5th century AD introduced a few Germanic words. The Muslim conquest three centuries later brought in a large number of Arabic words, many of which are easily detected by the prefixed Arabic article al. Under the influence, beginning in the 11th century, of French ecclesiastics and pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela in north-western Spain, the Spanish vocabulary was appreciably augmented by words and phrases from French. During the 15th and 16th centuries an infusion of elements from the Italian occurred because of Aragonese domination in Italy and the great vogue of Italian poetry in Spain. Relations between Spain and its colonies and possessions have led to the introduction of terms from Native American languages and other sources, and scholarly activities have constantly increased the stock of borrowed words.

In the Americas its usage was continued by the descendants of the Spaniards, whether by the large population of Spanish Creoles or by what had then become the mixed Spanish-Amerindian (Mestizo) majority. After the wars of independence fought by these colonies in the 19th century, the new ruling elites extended their Spanish to the whole population to strengthen national unity.

In the Philippines, this process did not occur for several reasons. It was isolated as the only Spanish colony in Asia, far removed from all of Spain's colonies in the Americas. Rather than being a direct colony of Spain, the Philippines was in fact a colony of another Spanish colony, New Spain, and was administered from Mexico City. In comparison to its counterparts in Spanish America, the Philippine population was, and still is, almost exclusively native, while Spaniards (of which a great many were actually Mexican Creoles) accounted for even fewer than the mestizos. Following the Spanish-American War the small number of Spaniards present in the country eventually returned to New Spain (Mexico) and Spain. Ultimately, at the culmination of the Philippine-American War many of the already minuscule mestizo population was decimated as casualties of war. English was then declared an official language. Spanish finally ceased to be an official language of the Philippines in 1973.

In 1713, the Real Academia Española was founded. It established authoritative criteria for the sanctioning of neologisms and the incorporation of international words. Spanish grammar was formalized during this period and there was a great flourish in Hispanic literature, helped by the expressive freedom allowed both writers and speakers by Spanish's relatively free word order, creating a variety of diverse literary styles.

The twentieth century has seen further alterations in how Spanish is used by its speakers. The eruption of neologisms, fuelled by technological and scientific advances, remains unabated. They range from the classic: termómetro, átomo and psicoanálisis to the most modern and barely hispanicized: filmar, radar, casete, PC and módem.