Spanish Language Facts

Interesting Spanish Language Facts

If you’re thinking about learning Spanish it’s always good to know a little about the origins and history of the language you are learning. Here, Cactus Language offers up our most interesting Spanish language facts:

1. The Origins

Spanish is a Romance language derived from Vulgar Latin. The Muslim rule in Spain during the Middle Ages left its mark on the Spanish language, as many Arabic words were incorporated into Spanish. With the Reconquest, Spanish spread and became the dominant language on the Iberian peninsula. Spanish language then further expanded as Spain developed its colonial empire, mainly in America, bringing on the same occasion many Amerindian words to the Spanish language.

2. The Speakers

Spanish is spoken by 559 million people around the world, including 470 million native speakers. It is estimated that there are more than 21 million students of Spanish as a foreign language. Spanish is the second most studied language in the world. It is the official language in 22 countries and is also spoken in numerous other countries. This includes the United States where there are 45 million Spanish speakers, making it the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world and is expected to become the largest by 2050.

3. The Punctuation

Unlike most other language where a simple exclamation or question mark is used at the end of an exclamation or question, Spanish is using inverted exclamation and question marks. These are used to highlight the exclamation or question part of a sentence. For example: Jose, ¿adónde vas? – Jose, where are you going?

4. The Uncommon

Like most languages, Spanish has its own very unique words which can’t be translated in other languages. Useful examples include:

  • Vergüenza Ajena: feeling embarrassed for someone even if he/she doesn’t feel embarrassed him/herself;
  • Empalagar: have you ever disliked something because it was too sweet? This word perfectly describe this situation;
  • Sobremesa: in Spain and Latin American countries, it is common to stay at the table after a meal and share conversation and anecdotes with family and friends over a cup of coffee or some wine.

5. The Name

Spanish (Español) is also known as Castilian (Castellano), owing to its origins as the language of Castile, a region in central Spain.


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