If you are interested in learning Spanish or you are currently studying this fascinating language, you might like to know some facts about Spanish that make this language one of the most studied in the world.
Spanish is a dominant language in the West. Spanish is spoken by 500 million people (the most spoken language in the world after Mandarin Chinese) and it’s growing more rapidly than many other languages. By 2050 Spanish will reach 600 million speakers.
The Instituto Cervantes estimates that, in total, 559 million people speak Spanish today, including native speakers, those with limited proficiency and students of Spanish as a second language.
Spanish is the second-most studied language in the world. In 2015, the number of people studying Spanish as a second language was more than 21 million. Within three generations, 10% of the population will be able to communicate in Spanish.
Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country with over 121 million people. The United States boasts the world’s second-largest Spanish-speaking population with almost 53 million people, followed by Colombia, Spain, and Argentina.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the Spanish-speaking population in the United States will reach 132.8 million by 2050, and this country will become the largest Spanish-speaking country. Nowadays, the United States' Hispanic population is more numerous than the entire population of Spain.
Spanish is the official language of 22 countries in four continents:
America: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.
Africa: Ceuta, Canary Islands, Melilla, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon (Cocobeach area), Western Sahara.
Oceania: Eastern Island.
Spanish is the second largest native language in the world, the second language used for international communication, and the 3rd most used language on the Internet. 7.9% of Internet users communicate in Spanish, but Spanish is the second most used language on the two main social networks in the world: Facebook and Twitter. Also, Spanish is the second most important language of Wikipedia by number of visitors.
Spanish is one of the easiest languages to learn for native English speakers. According to the experts, it’ll take you around 22-24 weeks to achieve what is called general professional proficiency in reading and speaking. However, general social proficiency comes much earlier, and this is what you need to travel and have a conversation on practical, social, and professional topics.
Spanish is a Romance language, such as French, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian. Romance Languages are also called Latin languages because they are the modern languages that evolved from spoken Latin between the sixth and the ninth centuries A.D. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the former population continued to speak in Latin, and it eventually diverged into totally new languages based on the regions in which it was spoken.
Some countries use the term “Español” and others prefer “Castellano” to refer to Spanish. Both terms are used for Spanish because they are synonyms, but Español is less ambiguous; so it's preferable to use “Español” for “Spanish” and “Castellano” to refer to the Spanish spoken in the Spanish area of Castilla.
About 70% of the Spanish words are of Latin origin. Examples of words from Latin origin are agua (aqua-water), Dios (deus-God), Tierra (terra-Earth) and Navidad (nativitas-Christmas).
Accent marks are used in Spanish for two different purposes: to show where emphasis falls on a word when it is pronounced and to help differentiate between identically-spelled words, for example, camino (way, road) and caminó (past tense for caminar-walk). They are only used above vowels (á, é, í, ó, ú).
Spanish is a phonetic language, which means that words are written as they are pronounced. Spanish pronunciation contains only ten vowel and diphthong sounds whereas English has twenty.
“E” is the most used letter in Spanish with 16%, while “W” is the least used, with only 0.01%. The most used word in Spanish is the preposition de, and the largest word in Spanish, with 25 letters, is esternocleidomastoiditis, but this is a medical term barely used outside this specific context. The 24-letter word electroencefalografistas (electroencephalographists) is often cited as the longest Spanish word.
After Latin, Spanish had the biggest historic-cultural influence from Arabic. Numerous Arabic words were absorbed into the Spanish language, as a result of the Arab conquest in Spain for almost nine centuries. The Spanish language has about 4,000 words of Arab origin, such as azúcar (sugar), aceituna (olive), arroz (rice) and almohada (pillow), just to mention a few.
Do you know any other interesting facts about the Spanish language?
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