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Castilian language

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Title: Castilian language  
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Subject: Galicia, Spain, Sardinian language, Real Academia Española, Alfonso X of Castile, Ferdinand III of Castile, Surname, Charles Spurgeon, Valencian, Province of Soria, Province of Ourense
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Castilian language

Pronunciation [espaˈɲol], [kasteˈʎano]
Region Spain, Latin America (see below)
Native speakers million  (2010)
60 million as a second language (no date)[2]
Language family
Early forms
Old Spanish
  • Spanish
Writing system Latin (Spanish alphabet)
Spanish Braille
Official status
Official language in

Regulated by Association of Spanish Language Academies
(Real Academia Española and 21 other national Spanish language academies)
Language codes
ISO 639-1 es
ISO 639-2 spa
ISO 639-3 spa
Linguist List
Linguasphere 51-AAA-b
  Countries where Spanish has official status.
  Countries and U.S. states where Spanish has no official status but is spoken by 25% or more of the population.
  Countries and U.S. states where Spanish has no official status but is spoken by 10–20% of the population.
  Countries and U.S. states where Spanish has no official status but is spoken by 5–9.9% of the population.
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Spanish (español), also called CastilianMercosur.

Spanish is a part of the Ibero-Romance group of languages, which evolved from several dialects of common Latin in Iberia after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century. It was first documented in central-northern Iberia in the ninth century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia.[5] From its beginnings, Spanish vocabulary was influenced by its contact with Basque and by other related Ibero-Romance languages and later absorbed many Arabic words during the Muslim presence in the Iberian Peninsula.[6] It also adopted many words from non-Iberian languages, particularly the Romance languages Occitan, French, Italian and Sardinian and increasingly from English in modern times, as well as adding its own new words. Spanish was taken to the colonies of the Spanish Empire in the sixteenth century, most notably to the Americas as well as territories in Africa, Oceania and the Philippines.[7]

Spanish is the most popular second language learned by native speakers of American English.[8] From the last decades of the 20th century, the study of Spanish as a foreign language has grown significantly, in part because of the growing populations and economies of many Spanish-speaking countries, and the growing international tourism in these countries.

Spanish is the most widely understood language in the Western Hemisphere, with significant populations of native Spanish speakers ranging from the tip of Patagonia to as far north as New York City and Chicago. Since the early 21st century, it has arguably superseded French in becoming the second-most-studied language and the second language in international communication, after English.[9][10][11][12]

Names of the language

In Spain and in some other parts of the Spanish-speaking world, Spanish is called castellano (Castilian) as well as español (Spanish), that is, the language of the region of Castile, contrasting it with other languages spoken in Spain such as Galician, Basque, and Catalan. The Spanish Constitution of 1978 uses the term castellano to define the official language of the whole Spanish State, in contrast to las demás lenguas españolas (lit. the rest of the Spanish languages). Article III reads as follows:

El castellano es la lengua española oficial del Estado. (...) Las demás lenguas españolas serán también oficiales en las respectivas Comunidades Autónomas...

Castilian is the official Spanish language of the State. (...) The rest of the Spanish languages shall also be official in their respective Autonomous Communities...

The Spanish Royal Academy, on the other hand, currently uses the term español in its publications but from 1713 to 1923 called the language castellano.

The Diccionario panhispánico de dudas (a language guide published by the Spanish Royal Academy) states that, although the Spanish Royal Academy prefers to use the term español in its publications when referring to the Spanish language, both terms, español and castellano, are regarded as synonymous and equally valid.[13]

Two etymologies for español have been suggested. The Spanish Royal Academy Dictionary derives the term from the Provençal word espaignol, and that in turn from the Medieval Latin word Hispaniolus, 'from—or pertaining to—Hispania'.[14] Other authorities[15][16] attribute it to a supposed medieval Latin *hispaniōne, with the same meaning.


Main article: History of Spanish

The Spanish language evolved from Vulgar Latin (colloquial Latin), which was brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Romans during the Second Punic War, beginning in 210 BC. Previously, several pre-Roman languages (also called Paleohispanic languages)—unrelated to Latin, and some of them unrelated even to Indo-European—were spoken in the Iberian Peninsula. These languages included Basque (still spoken today), Iberian, and Celtiberian. Traces of these languages, especially Basque, can be found in the Spanish vocabulary today, mainly in place names.

The first documents to record what is today regarded as the precursor of modern Spanish are from the 9th century (see Glosas Emilianenses). Throughout the Middle Ages and into the modern era, by far the most important influence on Spanish (Castilian) lexicon came from neighboring Romance languagesNavarro-Aragonese, Leonese, Aragonese, Catalan, Portuguese, Galician, Mirandese, Occitan, Gascon, and later, French and Italian—but also from Basque, Arabic, and to a lesser extent the Germanic languages. Many words were borrowed from Latin through the influence of written language and the liturgical language of the Church.

Local sociolects of Vulgar Latin evolved into Spanish in the north of Iberia, in an area defined by Álava, Cantabria, Burgos, Soria and La Rioja. The dialect was later brought to the city of Toledo, where the written standard of Spanish was first developed, in the 13th century.[17] In this formative stage, Spanish (Castilian) developed a strongly differing variant from its close cousin, Leonese, and, according to some authors, was distinguished by a heavy Basque influence (see Iberian Romance languages). This distinctive dialect progressively spread south with the advance of the Reconquista, and so gathered a sizable lexical influence from the Arabic of Al-Andalus, much of it indirectly, through the Romance Mozarabic dialects.[18] The written standard for this new language began to be developed in the cities of Toledo, in the 13th to 16th centuries, and Madrid, from the 1570s.[17]

The development of the Spanish sound system from that of Vulgar Latin exhibits most of the changes that are typical of Western Romance languages, including lenition of intervocalic consonants (thus Latin vīta > Spanish vida). The diphthongization of Latin stressed short e and o—which occurred in open syllables in French and Italian, but not at all in Catalan or Portuguese—is found in both open and closed syllables in Spanish, as shown in the following table:

Latin Spanish Ladino Aragonese Asturian Galician Portuguese Catalan Occitan French Italian Romanian English
petra piedra piedra (or pyedra) piedra piedra pedra pedra pedra pedra/pèira pierre pietra piatrǎ 'stone'
terra tierra tierra (or tyerra) tierra tierra terra terra terra tèrra terre terra ţară 'land'
moritur muere muere muere muerre morre morre mor morís meurt muore moare 'dies (v.)'
mortem muerte muerte muerte muerte morte morte mort mòrt mort morte moarte 'death'

Spanish is marked by the palatalization of the Latin double consonants nn and ll (thus Latin annum > Spanish año, and Latin anellum > Spanish anillo).

The consonant written ⟨u⟩ or ⟨v⟩ in Latin and pronounced [w] in Classical Latin had probably "fortified" to a bilabial fricative /β/ in Vulgar Latin. In early Spanish (but not in Catalan or Portuguese) it merged with the consonant written ⟨b⟩ (a bilabial with plosive and fricative allophones). In modern Spanish, there is no difference between the pronunciation of orthographic ⟨b⟩ and ⟨v⟩.

Peculiar to Spanish (as well as to the neighboring Gascon dialect of Occitan, and sometimes attributed to a Basque substratum) was the mutation of Latin initial f- into h- whenever it was followed by a vowel that did not diphthongize. The h-, still preserved in spelling, is now silent in most varieties of the language, although in some Andalusian and Caribbean dialects it is still aspirated in some words. This is the reason why there are modern spelling variants Fernando and Hernando (both Spanish of "Ferdinand"), ferrero and herrero (both Spanish of "smith"), fierro and hierro (both Spanish of "iron"), and fondo and hondo (both Spanish of "deep", but fondo means "bottom" while hondo means "deep"); hacer (Spanish of "to make") is the root word of satisfacer (Spanish of "to satisfy"), and hecho ("made") is the root word of satisfecho (Spanish of "satisfied").

Compare the examples in the following table:

Latin Spanish Ladino Aragonese Asturian Galician Portuguese Catalan Occitan French Italian Romanian English
filium hijo fijo (or ijo) fillo fíu fillo filho fill filh/hilh fils figlio fiu 'son'
facere hacer fazer fer facer facer fazer fer far/faire/har (or hèr) faire fare facere 'to do'
febrem fiebre fiebre fiebre fiebre febre febre febre fèbre/frèbe/hrèbe (or
fièvre febbre febră 'fever'
focum fuego fuego fuego fueu fogo fogo foc fuòc/fòc/huèc feu fuoco foc 'fire'

Some consonant clusters of Latin also produced characteristically different results in these languages, as shown in the examples in the following table:

Latin Spanish Ladino Aragonese Asturian Galician Portuguese Catalan Occitan French Italian Romanian English
clāvem llave clave clau llave chave chave/clave clau clau clé chiave cheie 'key'
flamma llama flama flama llama chama chama/flama flama flama flamme fiamma flamă 'flame'
plēnum lleno pleno plen llenu cheo cheio/pleno ple plen plein pieno plin 'plenty,full'
octō ocho ocho güeito ocho/oito oito oito vuit/huit ch/ch/uèit huit otto opt 'eight'
multum mucho
mui (arch.)
molt molt (arch.) moult (arch.) molto mult 'much,
a lot of'

In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish underwent a dramatic change in the pronunciation of its sibilant consonants, known in Spanish as the reajuste de las sibilantes, which resulted in the distinctive velar [x] pronunciation of the letter ⟨j⟩ and—in a large part of Spain—the characteristic interdental [θ] ("th-sound") for the letter ⟨z⟩ (and for ⟨c⟩ before ⟨e⟩ or ⟨i⟩). See History of Spanish (Modern development of the Old Spanish sibilants) for details.

The Gramática de la lengua castellana, written in Salamanca in 1492 by Elio Antonio de Nebrija, was the first grammar written for a modern European language.[20] According to a popular anecdote, when Nebrija presented it to Queen Isabella I, she asked him what was the use of such a work, and he answered that language is the instrument of empire.[21] In his introduction to the grammar, dated August 18, 1492, Nebrija wrote that "... language was always the companion of empire."[22]

From the sixteenth century onwards, the language was taken to America and the Spanish East Indies via Spanish colonization of America. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of Don Quixote, is such a well-known reference in the world that Spanish is often called la lengua de Cervantes ("the language of Cervantes").[23]

In the twentieth century, Spanish was introduced to Equatorial Guinea and the Western Sahara, and to areas of the United States that had not been part of the Spanish Empire, such as Spanish Harlem in New York City. For details on borrowed words and other external influences upon Spanish, see Influences on the Spanish language.


Main article: Spanish grammar

Spanish is a relatively inflected language, with a two-gender noun system and about fifty conjugated forms per verb, but with inflection of nouns, adjectives, and determiners limited to number and gender. (For a detailed overview of verbs, see Spanish verbs and Spanish irregular verbs.) Spanish syntax is considered right-branching, meaning that subordinate or modifying constituents tend to be placed after their head words. The language uses prepositions (rather than postpositions or inflection of nouns for case), and usually—though not always—places adjectives after nouns, as do most other Romance languages.

Its sentence structure is generally subject–verb–object, although variations are common. It is a "pro-drop", or "null-subject" language—that is, it allows the deletion of subject pronouns when they are pragmatically unnecessary. Spanish is described as a "verb-framed" language, meaning that the direction of motion is expressed in the verb while the mode of locomotion is expressed adverbially (e.g. subir corriendo or salir volando; the respective English equivalents of these examples—'to run up' and 'to fly out'—show that English is, by contrast, "satellite-framed", with mode of locomotion expressed in the verb and direction in an adverbial modifier).

Subject/verb inversion is not required in questions, and thus the recognition of declarative or interrogative may depend entirely on intonation.


Main article: Spanish phonology

Segmental phonology

The Spanish phonemic inventory consists of five vowel phonemes (/a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/) and 17 to 19 consonant phonemes (the exact number depending on the dialect). The main allophonic variation among vowels is the reduction of the high vowels /i/ and /u/ to glides—[j] and [w] respectively—when unstressed and adjacent to another vowel. Some instances of the mid vowels /e/ and /o/, determined lexically, alternate with the diphthongs [je] and [we] respectively when stressed, in a process that is better described as morphophonemic rather than phonological, as it is not predictable from phonology alone.

The Spanish consonant system is characterized by (1) three nasal phonemes, and one or two (depending on the dialect) lateral phoneme(s), which in syllable-final position lose their contrast and are subject to assimilation to a following consonant; (2) three voiceless stops and the affricate /tʃ/; (3) three or four (depending on the dialect) voiceless fricatives; (4) a set of voiced obstruents/b/, /d/, /ɡ/, and sometimes /ʝ/—which alternate between fricative and plosive allophones depending on the environment; and (5) a phonemic distinction between the "tapped" and "trilled" r-sounds (single ⟨r⟩ and double ⟨rr⟩ in orthography).

In the following table of consonant phonemes, /θ/ and /ʎ/ are marked with an asterisk (*) to indicate that they are preserved only in some dialects. In most dialects they have been merged, respectively, with /s/ and /ʝ/, in the mergers called, respectively, seseo and yeísmo. The phoneme /ʃ/ is in parentheses () to indicate that it appears only in loanwords. Each of the voiced obstruent phonemes /b/, /d/, /ʝ/, and /ɡ/ appears to the right of a pair of voiceless phonemes, to indicate that, while the voiceless phonemes maintain a phonemic contrast between plosive (or affricate) and fricative, the voiced ones alternate allophonically (i.e. without phonemic contrast) between plosive and fricative pronunciations.

Table of consonant phonemes of Spanish[24]
 Labial   Dental   Alveolar   Palatal   Velar 
Nasal m n ɲ
Plosive p b t  d k  ɡ 
Fricative f θ* s (ʃ)  ʝ  x 
Trill r
Tap ɾ
Lateral l ʎ*
V and B

The letters ⟨v⟩ and ⟨b⟩ normally represent the same phoneme, /b/, which is realized as [b] after a nasal consonant or a pause, and as [β] elsewhere, as in ambos [ˈambos] ('both') envío [emˈbi.o] ('I send'), acabar [akaˈβaɾ] ('to finish') and mover [moˈβeɾ] ('to move'). The Royal Spanish Academy considers the /v/ pronunciation for the letter ⟨v⟩ to be incorrect and affected. However, some Spanish speakers maintain the pronunciation of the /v/ sound as it is in other western European languages. The sound /v/ is used for the letter ⟨v⟩, in the Spanish language, by a few second-language speakers in Spain whose native language is Catalan, in the Balearic Islands, in the Valencian Community, and in southern Catalonia.[25] In the USA it is also common because of the proximity and influence of English phonology, and the /v/ is also occasionally used in Mexico. Some parts of Central America also use /v/, which the Royal Academy attributes to the interference of local indigenous languages.

Historically, the /v/ pronunciation was uncommon, but considered correct well into the twentieth century.


Spanish is classified by its rhythm as a syllable-timed language, meaning that each syllable has approximately the same duration regardless of stress.[26][27]

Spanish intonation varies significantly according to dialect, but generally conforms to a pattern of falling tone for declarative sentences and wh-questions (who, what, why, etc.), and rising tone for yes/no questions.[28][29] There are no syntactic markers to distinguish between questions and statements, and thus the recognition of declarative or interrogative depends entirely on intonation.

Stress most often occurs on any of the last three syllables of a word, with some rare exceptions at the fourth-last or earlier syllables. The tendencies of stress assignment are as follows:[30]

  • In words that end with a vowel, stress most often falls on the penultimate syllable.
  • In words that end with a consonant, stress most often falls on the last syllable, with the following exceptions: The grammatical endings -n (for third-person-plural of verbs) and -s (whether for plural of nouns and adjectives or for second-person-singular of verbs) do not change the location of stress. Thus regular verbs ending with -n and the great majority of words ending with -s are stressed on the penult. Although a significant number of nouns and adjectives ending with -n are also stressed on the penult (e.g. joven, virgen, mitin), the great majority of nouns and adjectives ending with -n are stressed on their last syllable (e.g. capitán, almacén, jardín, corazón).
  • Preantepenultimate stress (stress on the fourth-to-last syllable) occurs rarely, and only on verbs with clitic pronouns attached (e.g. guardándoselos 'saving them for him/her/them').

In addition to the many exceptions to these tendencies, there are numerous minimal pairs which contrast solely on stress such as sábana ('sheet') and sabana ('savannah'), as well as límite ('boundary'), limite ('[that] he/she limits') and limité ('I limited'), or also líquido ('liquid'), liquido ('I sell off') and liquidó ('he/she sold off').

The spelling system unambiguously reflects where the stress occurs: in the absence of an accent mark, the stress falls on the last syllable unless the last letter is ⟨n⟩, ⟨s⟩, or a vowel, in which cases the stress falls on the next-to-last syllable; if and only if the absence of an accent mark would give the wrong stress information, an acute accent mark appears over the stressed syllable.

Geographical distribution

Spanish is the primary language of 20 countries worldwide. It is estimated that the combined total number of Spanish speakers is between 470 and 500 million, making it the second most widely spoken language in terms of native speakers.[32][33]

Spanish is the third most spoken language by total number of speakers (after Mandarin and English). Internet usage statistics for 2007 show Spanish as the third most commonly used language on the Internet, after English and Mandarin.[34]


In Europe, Spanish is an official language of Spain, the country after which it is named and from which it originated. It is widely spoken in Gibraltar, although English is the official language.[35] It is also commonly spoken in Andorra, although Catalan is the official language.[36]

Spanish is also spoken by small communities in other European countries, such as the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.[37] Spanish is an official language of the European Union. In Switzerland, Spanish is the native language of 1.7% of the population, representing the largest minority after the 4 official languages of the country.[38]

The Americas

Latin America

Most Spanish speakers are in Latin America; of all countries with a majority of Spanish speakers, only Spain and Equatorial Guinea are outside the Americas. Mexico has the most native speakers of any country. Nationally, Spanish is the official language—either de facto or de jure—of Argentina, Bolivia (co-official with Quechua, Aymara, Guarani, and 34 other languages), Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay (co-official with Guaraní), Peru (co-official with Quechua, Aymara, and other indigenous languages),Uruguay, and Venezuela.[39] Spanish is also the de facto and official language in Puerto Rico.[40]

Spanish has no official recognition in the former British colony of Belize; however, per the 2000 census, it is spoken by 43% of the population.[41][42] Mainly, it is spoken by the descendants of Hispanics who have been in the region since the seventeenth century; however, English is the official language.[43]

Due to their proximity to Spanish-speaking countries, Trinidad and Tobago and Brazil have implemented Spanish language teaching into their education systems. The Trinidad government launched the Spanish as a First Foreign Language (SAFFL) initiative in March 2005.[44] 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.[45] In many border towns and villages (especially in the Uruguayan-Brazilian and Paraguayan-Brazilian border areas), a mixed language known as Portuñol is spoken.[46]

United States

According to 2006 census data, 44.3 million people of the U.S. population were Hispanic or Latin American by origin;[47] 38.3 million people, 13 percent, of the population more than five years old speak Spanish at home.[48] The Spanish language has a long history and presence in the United States due to historic Spanish and later, Mexican administration over territories now forming the southwestern states as well as Florida, which was Spanish territory until 1821.

Spanish is by far the most widely taught second language in the country, and with over 50 million total speakers, the United States is now the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world after Mexico.[49] While English is the de facto official language of the country, Spanish is often used in public services and notices at the federal and state levels. Spanish is also used in administration in the state of New Mexico.[50] The language also has a strong influence in major metropolitan areas such as those of Los Angeles, Miami, San Antonio, New York, San Francisco, Dallas, and Phoenix; as well as more recently, Chicago, Las Vegas, Boston, Houston, and Baltimore-Washington, D.C. due to 20th and 21st century immigration.


In Africa, Spanish is official in Equatorial Guinea, as well as an official language of the African Union. In Equatorial Guinea, Spanish is the predominant language when native and non-native speakers (around 500,000 people) are counted, while Fang is the most spoken language by number of native speakers.[51][52]

In Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, an unknown number of Sahrawis are able to read and write in Spanish. Sahrawi Press Service, the official news service of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic of Western Sahara, has been available in Spanish since 2001,[53] and RASD TV, the official television channel of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, has a website available in Spanish.[54] The Sahara International Film Festival, Western Sahara's only film festival, is largely funded by Spanish donors and Spanish films are popular. While there is a Spanish literature community among the Sahrawi people, the Cervantes Institute has denied support and Spanish-language education to Sahrawis in Western Sahara and the Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria.[55][56] A group of Sahrawi poets known as Generación de la Amistad saharaui produces Sahrawi literature in Spanish.[57]

Spanish is also spoken in the integral territories of Spain in North Africa, which include the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla, the Plazas de soberanía, and the Canary Islands, archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa. Within Northern Morocco, a former Spanish protectorate that is also geographically close to Spain, approximately 20,000 people speak Spanish as a second language, while Arabic is the de jure official language and French is a de facto official language.[58] A small number of Moroccan Jews also speak the Sephardic Spanish dialect Haketia (related to the Ladino dialect spoken in Israel). Spanish is spoken by some communities in Angola because of the Cuban influence from the Cold War and in South Sudan among South Sudanese natives that relocated to Cuba during the Sudanese wars and returned in time for their country's independence.[59]


Spanish was an official language of the Philippines from the beginning of Spanish rule in 1565 to a constitutional change in 1973. During Spanish colonization (1565-1898), it was the language of government, trade and education, and spoken as a first language by Spaniards and educated Filipinos. In the mid-nineteenth century, the colonial government set up a free public education system with Spanish as the medium of instruction. This increased use of Spanish throughout the islands led to the formation of a class of Spanish-speaking intellectuals called the Ilustrados. However, Spanish was never spoken by the majority of the population.[60]

Despite American administration after the defeat of Spain in the Spanish-American War in 1898, the usage of Spanish continued in Philippine literature and press during the early years of American rule. Gradually, however, the American government began increasingly promoting the use of English, and it characterized Spanish as a negative influence of the past. Eventually, by the 1920s, English became the primary language of administration and education.[61] But despite a significant decrease in influence and speakers, Spanish remained an official language of the Philippines when it became independent in 1946, alongside English and Filipino, a standardized version of Tagalog.

Spanish was removed from official status in 1973 under the administration of Ferdinand Marcos, but regained its status as an official language two months later under Presidential Decree No. 155, dated 15 March 1973.[62] It remained an official language until 1987, with the ratification of the present constitution, in which it was re-designated as a voluntary and optional auxiliary language.[63] In 2010, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo encouraged the reintroduction of Spanish-language teaching in the Philippine education system. But by 2012, the number of secondary schools at which the language was either a compulsory subject or an elective had become very limited.[64] Today, despite government promotions of Spanish, less than 0.5% of the population report being able to speak the language proficiently.[65] Aside from standard Spanish, a Spanish-based creole language—Chavacano—developed in the southern Philippines. The number of Chavacano-speakers was estimated at 1.2 million in 1996.[66] Speakers of the Zamboangueño variety of Chavacano were numbered about 360,000 in the 2000 census.[67] The local languages of the Philippines also retain much Spanish influence, with many words being derived from Mexican Spanish, owing to the control of the islands by Spain through Mexico City until 1821, and then directly from Madrid until 1898.[68]

Spanish was also used by the colonial governments and educated classes in the former Spanish East Indies, consisting of modern-day Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, and Micronesia, in addition to the Philippines. Spanish loan words are present in the local languages of these territories as a legacy of colonial rule.[69] Spanish is also present on Easter Island, which was annexed as a Chilean province in 1888.

Spanish speakers by country

The following table shows the number of Spanish speakers in some 79 countries.

Country Population[70] Spanish as a native language speakers[71][72][73][74][75] Native speakers or very good speakers as a second language[76] Total number of Spanish speakers (including speakers with limited knowledge)[76][77][78]
 Mexico 118,395,054[79] 109,752,215 (92.7%)[80] 116,619,128 (98.5%) [78]
 United States 316,005,000[81] 38,325,155[82] (13%)[83] 82% of the Hispanic population[84] (53 mill.)[85] + 2.8 mill. non Hispanic population[86] 52,000,000[87] (7.8 million students[88][89]) [90][91][92][93][94][95]
 Colombia 47,302,000[96] 46,793,624[97] 46,923,584 (99.2%)[78]
 Spain 47,059,533[98] 38,588,817[99] 46,494,819 (98.8%)[78]
 Argentina 41,660,417[100][101] 39,500,000 [102] 41,410,454 (99.4%) [78]
 Venezuela 30,405,000[70][103] 29,306,756[104] 30,040,140 (98.8%)[78]
 Peru 30,475,144[105] 25,629,596 (84.1%)[106] 26,391,475 (86.6%)[78]
 Chile 17,556,815[107] 17,275,215[108] 17,433,917 (99.3%)[78]
 Ecuador 15,580,000[109] 13,200,000[110] 15,499,800 (98.1%)[78]
 Guatemala 15,438,384[70] 9,263,030[111] 13,338,764 (86.4%)[78]
 Brazil 201,032,714 [112] 460,018 [87] 460,018 [87] 12,460,018 [87][113]
 Cuba 11,266,000[70] 11,266,000[114] 11,198,404 (99.4%)[78]
 Dominican Republic 10,404,000[70] 9,300,000[115] 10,362,384 (99.6%)[78]
 Bolivia 10,426,154[116] 6,047,169 (58%)[117] 9,164,589 (87.9%)[78]
 Honduras 8,215,313[118] 8,007,563[119] 8,133,160 (99.0%)[78]
 France 65,635,000[120] 477,564 (1%[121] of 47,756,439[122]) 1,910,258 (4%[123] of 47,756,439[122]) 6,685,901 (14%[124] of 47,756,439[122])
 El Salvador 6,183,002[125] 6,168,902[126] 6,164,453 (99.7%)[78]
 Nicaragua 6,042,000[70] 5,551,876[127] 5,860,740 (97.0%)[78]
 Italy 59,685,227 [128] 1,037,248 (2%[123] of 51,862,391[122]) 5,704,863 (11%[124] of 51,862,391[122])
 Paraguay 6,802,000[70] 3,877,140 (57%)[129] 4,727,390 (69.5%)[78]
 Costa Rica 4,667,096[130] 4,581,678[131] 4,629,759 (99.2%)[78]
 Puerto Rico 3,667,084[132] 3,487,397 (95.1%)[133] 3,623,079 (98.8%)[78]
 Panama 3,864,000[134] 3,362,957[135] 3,597,384 (93.1%)[78]
 Morocco 31,759,997[136] 6,586 [87] 6,586 3,415,000 [87][137] (21.9%)[138]
 United Kingdom 63,181,775 [139] 518,480 (1%[123] of 51,848,010[122]) 3,110,880 (6%[124] of 51,848,010[122])
 Uruguay 3,286,314[140] 3,136,114[141] 3,250,165 (98.9%)[78]
 Philippines 97,866,000[142] 3,325 [143] 438,882 [144] 3,016,773[145][146][147][148][149][150][151]
 Germany 80,327,900 [152] 644,091 (1%[123] of 64,409,146[122]) 2,576,366 (4%[124] of 64,409,146[122])
 Equatorial Guinea 1,622,000[153] 1,683[154] 918,000 [78] (90.5%)[78][155]
 Canada 34,605,346[156] 439,000 [157] 909,000 [87][158] 1,001,853 [87]
 Romania 21,355,849[159] 182,467 (1%[123] of 18,246,731[122]) 912,337 (5%[124] of 18,246,731[122])
 Portugal 10,636,888[160] 323,237 (4%[123] of 8,080,915[122]) 808,091 (10%[124] of 8,080,915[122])
 Netherlands 16,665,900[161] 133,719 (1%[123] of 13,371,980[122]) 668,599 (5%[124] of 13,371,980[122] )
 Sweden 9,555,893[162] 77,912 (1%[121] of 7,791,240[122]) 77,912 (1% of 7,791,240) 467,474 (6%[124] of 7,791,240[122])
 Australia 21,507,717 [163] 111,400 [164] 111,400 447,175 [165]
 Belgium 10,918,405 [166] 89,395 (1%[123] of 8,939,546[122]) 446,977 (5%[124] of 8,939,546[122])
 Poland 38,092,000 324,137 (1%[123] of 32,413,735[122]) 324,137 (1% of 32,413,735)
 Austria 8,205,533 70,098 (1%[123] of 7,009,827[122]) 280,393 (4%[124] of 7,009,827[122])
 Ivory Coast 20,179,602 235,806 (students)[77]
 Algeria 33,769,669 223,422 [87]
 Belize 333,200[167] 173,597 [87] 173,597 [87] 195,597 [87] (62.8%)[168]
 Denmark 5,484,723 1%[123] of 4,561,264[122] 4%[124] of 4,561,264[122]
 Israel 7,112,359 130,000 [87] 175,231 [169]
 Japan 127,288,419 167,514[77]
 Ireland 4,581,269 [170] 1%[123] of 3,522,000[122] 4%[124] of 3,522,000[122]
  Switzerland 7,581,520 86,000[87] (1.7%)[171] 111,000 [87] 111,000 [87]
 Finland 5,244,749 3%[124] of 4,440,004[122]
 Bulgaria 7,262,675 2%[123] of 6,537,510[122] 2%[124] of 6,537,510[122]
 Netherlands Antilles 223,652 10,699 [87] 10,699 [87] 125,534 [87]
 Senegal 12,853,259 101,455 [77]
 Czech Republic 10,513,209 [172] 1%[124] of 9,012,443[122]
 Hungary 9,957,731[173] 1%[124] of 8,320,614[122]
 Aruba 101,484[174] 6,800 [87] 6,800 [87] 75,402 [87]
 Trinidad and Tobago 1,317,714 [175] 4,100 [87] 4,100 [87] 65,886 [87] (5%)[176]
 Cameroon 21,599,100[177] 63,560 (students)[77]
 Andorra 84,484 33,305 [87] 33,305 [87] 54,909 [87]
 Slovenia 2%[123] of 1,759,701[122] 3%[124] of 1,759,701[122]
 Slovakia 5,455,407 1%[124] of 4,549,955[122]
 Norway 4,644,457 12,573[178] 36,250[77]
 China 1,339,724,852[179] 30,000 (students)[180]
 Lithuania 2,972,949[181] 1%[124] of 2,829,740[122]
 Luxembourg 524,853 1%[121] of 47,756,439[122] 2%[123] of 404,907[122] 6%[124] of 404,907[122]
 Russia 143,400,000 [182] 3,320 [87] 3,320 [87] 23,320 [87]
 Western Sahara 513,000 [183] n.a.[184] 22,000 [87]
 New Zealand 21,645 [185] 21,645 47,322 (25,677 students)[77]
 Guam 19,092 [186]
United States Virgin Islands US Virgin Islands 16,788 [187] 16,788 [87] 16,788 [87]
 Latvia 2,209,000[188] 1%[124] of 1,447,866[122]
 Turkey 73,722,988[189] 1,134 [87] 1,134 [87] 13,480 [87][190]
 Cyprus 2%[124] of 660,400[122]
 India 1,210,193,422[191] 9,750 (students)[192]
 Estonia 1%[124] of 945,733[122]
 Jamaica 2,711,476 [193] 8,000 [194] 8,000 [194] 8,000 [194]
 Namibia 3,870 [195]
 Egypt 3,500[196]
 Malta 1%[124] of 335,476[122]
 European Union (excluded Spain) 460,624,488 [197] 2,397,000 (559,525 already counted)[198]
Total 7,103,788,000 (Total World Population)[199] 435,814,651 [2][200] 475,292,612 [2] 525,130,971 [201][202][203] (7.37%)

Dialectal variation

There are important variations—phonological, grammatical, and lexical—in the spoken Spanish of the various regions of Spain and throughout the Spanish-speaking areas of the Americas.

The variety with the most speakers is Mexican Spanish. It is spoken by more than twenty percent of the world's Spanish speakers (more than 112 million of the total of more than 500 million, according to the table above). One of its main features is the reduction or loss of unstressed vowels, mainly when they are in contact with the sound /s/.[204][205]

In Spain, northern dialects are popularly thought of as closer to the standard, although positive attitudes toward southern dialects have increased significantly in the last 50 years. Even so, the speech of Madrid, which has typically southern features such as yeísmo and s-aspiration, is the standard variety for use on radio and television,[206][207][208][209] and is the variety that has most influenced the written standard for Spanish.[210]


Three of the main phonological divisions are based respectively on (1) the phoneme /θ/ ("theta"), (2) the phoneme /ʎ/ ("turned y"),[211] and (3) the "debuccalization" (also frequently called "aspiration") of syllable-final /s/. The phoneme /θ/ (spelled ⟨z⟩, or ⟨c⟩ before ⟨e⟩ or ⟨i⟩)—a voiceless dental fricative as in English thing—is maintained in northern and central Spain, but is merged with the sibilant /s/ in southern Spain, the Canary Islands, and all of Latin-American Spanish.[212]

This merger is called seseo in Spanish. The phoneme /ʎ/ (spelled ⟨ll⟩)—a palatal lateral consonant sometimes compared in sound to the lli of English million—tends to be maintained in less-urbanized areas of northern Spain and in highland areas of South America, but in the speech of most other Spanish-speakers it is merged with /ʝ/ ("curly-tail j")—a non-lateral, usually voiced, usually fricative, palatal consonant—sometimes compared to English /j/ (yod) as in yacht, and spelled y in Spanish. This merger is called yeísmo in Spanish. And the debuccalization (pronunciation as [h], or loss) of syllable-final /s/ is associated with southern Spain, the Caribbean, and coastal areas of South America.


The main grammatical variations between dialects of Spanish involve differing uses of pronouns: especially those of the second person and, to a lesser extent, the object pronouns of the third person.


Main article: Voseo

Virtually all dialects of Spanish make the distinction between a formal and a familiar register in the second-person singular, and thus have two different pronouns meaning "you": usted in the formal, and either or vos in the familiar (and each of these three pronouns has its associated verb forms), with the choice of or vos varying from one dialect to another. The use of vos (and/or its verb forms) is called voseo. In a few dialects, all three pronouns are used—usted, , and vos—denoting respectively formality, familiarity, and intimacy.[213]

In voseo, vos is the subject form (vos decís, "you say") and the form for the object of a preposition (voy con vos, "I'm going with you"), while the direct and indirect object forms, and the possessives, are the same as those associated with : Vos sabés que tus amigos te respetan ("You know your friends respect you"). Additional examples: "Vos te acostaste con el tuerto" (Gené Ulf [Arg. 1988]); "Lugar que odio [...] como te odio a vos" (Rossi María [C. Rica 1985]); "No cerrés tus ojos" (Flores Siguamonta [Guat. 1993]).

The verb forms of general voseo are the same as those used with except in the present tense (indicative and imperative) verbs. The forms for vos generally can be derived from those of vosotros (the traditional second-person familiar plural) by deleting the glide /i̯/, or /d/, where it appears in the ending: vosotros pensáis > vos pensás; vosotros volvéis > vos volvés, pensad! (vosotros) > pensá! (vos), volved! (vosotros) > volvé! (vos) .

General voseo (River Plate Spanish)
Indicative Subjunctive Imperative
Present Past Conditional Present Past
pensás pensabas pensarías pienses pensaras pensá
volvés volvías volverías vuelvas volvieras volvé
dormís dormías dormirías duermas durmieras dormí
The forms in bold coincide with standard -conjugation.

In Chilean voseo on the other hand, almost all verb forms are distinct from their standard -forms.

Chilean voseo
Indicative Subjunctive Imperative
Present Past Conditional Present Past
pensái pensabai pensaríai pensís pensarai piensa
volvís volvíai volveríai volvái volvierai vuelve
dormís dormíai dormiríai durmái durmierai duerme
The forms in bold coincide with standard -conjugation.

The use of the pronoun vos with the verb forms of (e.g. vos piensas) is called "pronominal voseo". And conversely, the use of the verb forms of vos with the pronoun (e.g. tú pensás or tú pensái) is called "verbal voseo".
In Chile, for example, verbal voseo is much more common than the actual use of the pronoun vos which is often reserved for deeply informal situations.

Distribution in Spanish-Speaking Regions of America

Although vos is not used in Spain, it occurs in many Spanish-speaking regions of the Americas as the primary spoken form of the second-person singular familiar pronoun, although with wide differences in social consideration. Generally, it can be said that there are zones of exclusive use of tuteo in the following areas: almost all of Mexico, the West Indies, Panama, most of Peru and Venezuela, coastal Ecuador and the Caribbean coast of Colombia.

Tuteo (the use of ) as a cultured form alternates with voseo as a popular or rural form in Bolivia, in the north and south of Peru, in Andean Ecuador, in small zones of the Venezuelan Andes (and most notably in the Venezuelan state of Zulia), and in a large part of Colombia. Some researchers claim that voseo can be heard in some parts of eastern Cuba, while others assert that it is absent from the island.[214]

Tuteo exists as the second-person usage with an intermediate degree of formality alongside the more familiar voseo in Chile, in the Venezuelan state of Zulia, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia(Monteria, Sincelejo, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Riohacha and Valledupar), in the Azuero Peninsula in Panama, in the Mexican state of Chiapas, and in parts of Guatemala.

Areas of generalized voseo include Argentina, Costa Rica, eastern Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay and the Colombian departments of Antioquia (the second largest in population), Caldas, Risaralda, Quindio, and parts of The Valle del Cauca department.[213]


Ustedes functions as formal and informal second person plural in over 90% of the Spanish-speaking world, including all of Latin America, the Canary Islands, and some regions of Andalusia. In Seville, Cadiz, and other parts of western Andalusia, the familiar form is constructed as ustedes vais, using the traditional second-person plural form of the verb. Most of Spain maintains the formal/familiar distinction with ustedes and vosotros respectively.


Usted is the usual second-person singular pronoun in a formal context, used to convey respect toward someone who is a generation older or is of higher authority ("you, sir"/"you, ma'am"). It is also used in a familiar context by many speakers in Colombia and Costa Rica, and in parts of Ecuador and Panama, to the exclusion of or vos. This usage is sometimes called ustedeo in Spanish.

In Central America, especially in Honduras, usted is often used as a formal pronoun to convey respect between the members of a romantic couple. Usted is also used in this way, as well as between parents and children, in the Andean regions of Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela.

Third-person object pronouns

Most speakers use (and the Real Academia Española prefers) the pronouns lo and la for direct objects (masculine and feminine respectively, regardless of animacy, meaning "him", "her", or "it"), and le for indirect objects (regardless of gender or animacy, meaning "to him", "to her", or "to it"). This usage is sometimes called "etymological", as these direct and indirect object pronouns are a continuation, respectively, of the accusative and dative pronouns of Latin, the ancestor language of Spanish.

Deviations from this norm (more common in Spain than in the Americas) are called "leísmo", "loísmo", or "laísmo", according to which respective pronoun—le, lo, or la—has expanded beyond the etymological usage (i.e. le as a direct object, or lo or la as an indirect object).


Some words can be different, even significantly so, in different Hispanophone countries. Most Spanish speakers can recognize other Spanish forms, even in places where they are not commonly used, but Spaniards generally do not recognize specifically American usages. For example, Spanish mantequilla, aguacate and albaricoque (respectively, 'butter', 'avocado', 'apricot') correspond to manteca, palta, and damasco, respectively, in Argentina, Chile (except manteca), Paraguay, Peru (except manteca and damasco), and Uruguay.

The everyday Spanish words coger ('to take'), pisar ('to step on') and concha ('seashell') are considered extremely rude in parts of Latin America, where the meaning of coger and pisar is also "to have sex" and concha means "vulva". The Puerto Rican word for "bobby pin" (pinche) is an obscenity in Mexico, but in Nicaragua it simply means "stingy", and in Spain refers to a chef's helper. Other examples include taco, which means "swearword" (among other meanings) in Spain, "traffic jam" in Chile and "heels" (shoe) in Argentina and Peru but is known to the rest of the world as a Mexican dish.

Pija in many countries of Latin America and Spain itself is an obscene slang word for "penis", while in Spain the word also signifies "posh girl" or "snobby". Coche, which means "car" in Spain, central Mexico and Argentina, for the vast majority of Spanish-speakers actually means "baby-stroller" or "pushchair", while carro means "car" in some Latin American countries and "cart" in others, as well as in Spain. Papaya is the slang term for "vagina" in parts of Cuba and Venezuela, where the fruit is instead called fruta bomba and lechosa, respectively.[215][216] Also, in Argentina, one would say "piña" when talking about 'punching' someone else, whereas in other countries, "piña" refers to a pineapple.

Relation to other languages

Further information: Comparison of Spanish and Portuguese

Spanish is closely related to the other Iberian Romance languages: Asturian, Aragonese, Catalan, Galician, Ladino, Leonese, Mirandese and Portuguese.

It should be noted that although Portuguese and Spanish are very closely related, particularly in vocabulary (89% lexically similar according to the Ethnologue of Languages), syntax and grammar, there are also some differences that don't exist between Catalan and Portuguese. Although Spanish and Portuguese are widely considered to be mutually intelligible, it has been noted that while most Portuguese speakers can understand spoken Spanish with little difficulty, Spanish speakers face more difficulty in understanding spoken Portuguese. The written forms are considered to be equally intelligible, however.

Vocabulary comparison

At present, the lexical similarity with Italian is estimated at 82%.[217] The lexical similarity with Portuguese is greater at 89%. Mutual intelligibility between Spanish and French or Romanian is lower (lexical similarity being respectively 75% and 71%):[217] comprehension of Spanish by French speakers who have not studied the language is low at an estimated 45%—the same as English. The common features of the writing systems of the Romance languages allow for a greater amount of interlingual reading comprehension than oral communication would.

Latin Spanish Galician Portuguese Astur-Leonese Aragonese Catalan French Italian Romanian English
nos nosotros nós1 nós1 nós, nosotros nusatros nosaltres
(arch. nós)
nous2 noi3 noi 'we'
frater germanum
(lit. "true brother")
hermano irmán irmão hermanu chirmán germà
(arch. frare)5
frère fratello frate 'brother'
dies martis (Classical)
feria tertia (Ecclesiastical)
martes martes/terza feira terça-feira martes martes dimarts mardi martedì marţi 'Tuesday'
canción canción/cançom4 canção canción
(or canciu)
canta cançó chanson canzone cântec 'song'
(arch. plus)
máis mais
(arch. chus or plus)
más más
(or més)
(arch. pus or plus)
plus più mai/plus 'more'
manum sinistram mano izquierda
(arch. mano siniestra)
man esquerda mão esquerda
(arch. mão sẽestra)
manu izquierda
(or esquierda;
also manzorga
man cucha mà esquerra
(arch. mà sinistra)
main gauche mano sinistra mâna stângă 'left hand'
nullam rem natam
(lit. "no thing born")
nada nada
(also ren)
(neca and nula rés
in some expressions; arch. rem)
(also un res
cosa res rien/nul niente/nulla nimic/nul 'nothing'
cāseus formaticus queso queixo queijo quesu queso formatge fromage formaggio caș6 'cheese'

1. Also nós outros in early modern Portuguese (e.g. The Lusiads).
2. Alternatively nous autres in French.
3. Also noialtri in Southern Italian dialects and languages.
4. Depending on the written norm used (see Reintegracionism).
5. Medieval Catalan (e.g. Llibre dels fets).
6. Note that Romanian caș (from Latin cāsevs) means a type of cheese. The universal term for cheese in Romanian is brânză (from unknown etymology).[218]


Judaeo-Spanish (also known as Ladino),[219] which is essentially medieval Spanish and closer to modern Spanish than any other language, is spoken by many descendants of the Sephardi Jews who were expelled from Spain in the fifteenth century.[219] Therefore, its relationship to Spanish is comparable with that of the Yiddish language to German. Ladino speakers are currently almost exclusively Sephardi Jews, with family roots in Turkey, Greece or the Balkans; current speakers mostly live in Israel and Turkey, and the United States, with a few pockets in Latin America.[219] It lacks the Native American vocabulary which was influential during the Spanish colonial period, and it retains many archaic features which have since been lost in standard Spanish. It contains, however, other vocabulary which is not found in standard Spanish, including vocabulary from Hebrew, French, Greek and Turkish, and other languages spoken where the Sephardim settled.

Judaeo-Spanish is in serious danger of extinction because many native speakers today are elderly as well as elderly olim (immigrants to Israel) who have not transmitted the language to their children or grandchildren. However, it is experiencing a minor revival among Sephardi communities, especially in music. In the case of the Latin American communities, the danger of extinction is also due to the risk of assimilation by modern Castilian.

A related dialect is Haketia, the Judaeo-Spanish of northern Morocco. This too tended to assimilate with modern Spanish, during the Spanish occupation of the region.

Writing system

Main article: Spanish orthography

Spanish is written in the Latin script, with the addition of the character ⟨ñ⟩ (eñe, representing the phoneme /ɲ/, a letter distinct from ⟨n⟩, although typographically composed of an ⟨n⟩ with a tilde) and the digraphs ⟨ch⟩ (che, representing the phoneme /t͡ʃ/) and ⟨ll⟩ (elle, representing the phoneme /ʎ/). However, the digraph ⟨rr⟩ (erre fuerte, 'strong r', erre doble, 'double r', or simply erre), which also represents a distinct phoneme /r/, is not similarly regarded as a single letter. Since 1994 ⟨ch⟩ and ⟨ll⟩ have been treated as letter pairs for collation purposes, though they remain a part of the alphabet. Words with ⟨ch⟩ are now alphabetically sorted between those with ⟨cg⟩ and ⟨ci⟩, instead of following ⟨cz⟩ as they used to. The situation is similar for ⟨ll⟩.[220][221]

Thus, the Spanish alphabet has the following 27 letters and 2 digraphs:

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, Ñ, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z.[222]
Ch,[223] Ll.[224]

The letters ⟨k⟩ and ⟨w⟩ are used only in words and names coming from foreign languages (kilo, folklore, whisky, William, etc.).

With the exclusion of a very small number of regional terms such as México (see Toponymy of Mexico), pronunciation can be entirely determined from spelling. Under the orthographic conventions, a typical Spanish word is stressed on the syllable before the last if it ends with a vowel (not including ⟨y⟩) or with a vowel followed by ⟨n⟩ or an ⟨s⟩; it is stressed on the last syllable otherwise. Exceptions to this rule are indicated by placing an acute accent on the stressed vowel.

The acute accent is used, in addition, to distinguish between certain homophones, especially when one of them is a stressed word and the other one is a clitic: compare el ('the', masculine singular definite article) with él ('he' or 'it'), or te ('you', object pronoun) with ('tea'), de (preposition 'of') versus ('give' [formal imperative/third-person present subjunctive]), and se (reflexive pronoun) versus ('I know' or imperative 'be').

The interrogative pronouns (qué, cuál, dónde, quién, etc.) also receive accents in direct or indirect questions, and some demonstratives (ése, éste, aquél, etc.) can be accented when used as pronouns. Accent marks used to be omitted in capital letters (a widespread practice in the days of typewriters and the early days of computers when only lowercase vowels were available with accents), although the Real Academia Española advises against this and the orthographic conventions taught at schools enforce the use of the accent.

When ⟨u⟩ is written between ⟨g⟩ and a front vowel ⟨e i⟩, it indicates a "hard g" pronunciation. A diaeresis ⟨ü⟩ indicates that it is not silent as it normally would be (e.g., cigüeña, 'stork', is pronounced [θiˈɣweɲa]; if it were written *cigueña, it would be pronounced *[θiˈɣeɲa]).

Interrogative and exclamatory clauses are introduced with inverted question and exclamation marks (⟨¿⟩ and ⟨¡⟩, respectively).


Royal Spanish Academy

The Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy), founded in 1713,[225] together with the 21 other national ones (see Association of Spanish Language Academies), exercises a standardizing influence through its publication of dictionaries and widely respected grammar and style guides.[226] Because of influence and for other sociohistorical reasons, a standardized form of the language (Standard Spanish) is widely acknowledged for use in literature, academic contexts and the media.

Association of Spanish Language Academies

The Association of Spanish Language Academies (Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española, or ASALE) is the entity which regulates the Spanish language. It comprises the academies of 22 countries, ordered by date of Academy foundation: Spain (1713),[228] Colombia (1871),[229] Ecuador (1874),[230] Mexico (1875),[231] El Salvador (1876),[232] Venezuela (1883),[233] Chile (1885),[234] Peru (1887),[235] Guatemala (1887),[236] Costa Rica (1923),[237] Philippines (1924),[238] Panama (1926),[239] Cuba (1926),[240] Paraguay (1927),[241] Dominican Republic (1927),[242] Bolivia (1927),[243] Nicaragua (1928),[244] Argentina (1931),[245] Uruguay (1943),[246] Honduras (1949),[247] Puerto Rico (1955),[248] and United States (1973).[249]

Instituto Cervantes

The Instituto Cervantes (Cervantes Institute) is a worldwide non-profit organization created by the Spanish government in 1991. This organization has branched out in over 20 different countries with 54 centers devoted to the Spanish and Hispanic American culture and Spanish Language. The ultimate goals of the Institute are to promote the education, the study and the use of Spanish universally as a second language, to support the methods and activities that would help the process of Spanish language education, and to contribute to the advancement of the Spanish and Hispanic American cultures throughout non-Spanish-speaking countries.

Official use by international organizations

Spanish is recognised as one of the official languages of the United Nations, the European Union, the World Trade Organisation, the Organization of American States, the Organization of Ibero-American States, the African Union, the Union of South American Nations, the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat, the Latin Union, the Caricom and the North American Free Trade Agreement.

See also



Further reading

  • "The Economist. June 1, 2013.

External links

  • Real Academia Española's official Spanish language dictionary (Spanish)
  • BBC Languages
  • USA Foreign Service Institute Spanish basic course
  • Spanish evolution from Latin
  • Spanish phrasebook on
  • For study Spanish
  • Size and nature of the Spanish vocabulary
  • Spanish Dictionary
  • - Study Spanish

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