Spanish language

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Spanish language,

member of the Romance group of the Italic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Romance languagesRomance languages,
group of languages belonging to the Italic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Italic languages). Also called Romanic, they are spoken by about 670 million people in many parts of the world, but chiefly in Europe and the Western Hemisphere.
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). The official language of Spain and 19 Latin American nations, Spanish is spoken as a first language by about 330 million persons and as a second language by perhaps another 50 million. It is the mother tongue of about 40 million people in Spain, where the language originated and whence it was later brought by Spanish explorers, colonists, and empire-builders to the Western Hemisphere and other parts of the world during the last five centuries. It is the native language of over 17 million people in the United States, and is one of the official languages of the United Nations.

Spanish is a descendant of the Vulgar Latin brought to the Iberian peninsula by the soldiers and colonists of ancient Rome (see Latin languageLatin language,
member of the Italic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. Latin was first encountered in ancient times as the language of Latium, the region of central Italy in which Rome is located (see Italic languages).
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). Thus the Spanish vocabulary is basically of Latin origin, although it has been enriched by many loan words from other languages, especially Arabic, French, Italian, and various indigenous languages of North, Central, and South America. The oldest extant written records of Spanish date from the middle of the 10th cent. A.D.

The Spanish language employs the Roman alphabet, to which the symbols ch, ll, ñ, and rr have been added. The tilde (˜) placed over the n (ñ) indicates the pronunciation ni, as in English pinion. The acute accent (´) is used to make clear which syllable of a word is to be stressed when the regular rules of stress are not followed. The acute accent is also employed to distinguish between homonyms, as in ("I know") and se ("self").

There are a number of Spanish dialects; however, the Castilian dialect was already the accepted standard of the language by the middle of the 13th cent., largely owing to the political importance of Castile. There are several striking differences in pronunciation between Castilian and major dialects of Latin American Spanish. In the former, c before e and i, and z before a, o, and u, are pronounced th, as in English think; in the latter, they are sounded as s in English see. Moreover, the alphabetical symbol ll in Castilian is pronounced as lli in English billion; but in Latin American Spanish, as y in English you. On the whole, however, the differences between the Spanish dialects of Europe and of Latin America with reference to pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar are relatively minor.

One interesting feature of Spanish is that there are two forms of the verb "to be": estar, which denotes a relatively temporary state, and ser, which denotes a relatively permanent condition and which is also used before a predicate noun. Reflexive verbs often perform the same function in Spanish that passive verbs do in English. Because the inflection of the Spanish verb indicates person very clearly, subject pronouns are not necessary. A another peculiarity of Spanish is the use of an inverted question mark (¿) at the beginning of a question and of an inverted exclamation point (¡) at the beginning of an exclamation.


See W. J. Entwistle, The Spanish Language, Together with Portuguese, Catalan and Basque (2d ed. 1962); Y. Malkiel, Linguistics and Philology in Spanish America (1972); J. Amastae and L. Elias-Olivares, Spanish in the United States (1982); R. Wright, Late Latin and Early Romance in Spain and Carolingian France (1982); M. Harris and N. Vincent, The Romance Languages (1988).

References in periodicals archive ?
Manuscrito e impreso; 5 folios; Castellano y Latin; Buena Contiene: -1822, junio, 10.
Ja o curso Intermediario, Castellano realizou na Escola Americana de Curitiba (3), uma escola particular pertencente a American Foreign Board (4).
In this piece, Castellano hints at his fascination with the pinata, a common feature of kids' parties in Spain.
A su vez, datos de conocimiento y empleo de la lengua nativa y el castellano por parte de la generacion de los padres y los abuelos segun las declaraciones de los entrevistados constituye tambien una buena posibilidad de evaluacion del cambio (13).
However, track supremo Bill Carstanjen suggested that the effects of a sore wrist and a build-up of intense pressure could have led a furious and out-of-control Borel to lunge at Castellano in the winner's circle after the Breeders' Cup Marathon, in which Castellano's mount PrinceWill I Am was disqualified from second place after causing interference to others, including Borel.
En el presente trabajo se describe manera general el sistema verbal del castellano andino narinense en relacion con el contacto castellano-quechua originado durante Conquista espanola.
En todo otro aspecto hemos privilegiado el uso de nuestro idioma Castellano, caracteristica que nos ha dado cobertura y prestigio como una de las revistas mas importantes en Ibero America en el area de la Ingenieria, la Tecnologia y las Ciencias Aplicadas.
Castellano, who has been CFO at Lazard since August 2001, will step down from his post at the independent investment bank at the end of March 2011.
En las parejas linguisticamente mixtas catalan/castellano de los territorios catalanohablantes parece predominar en general, segun Boix (1993, 1996), la convergencia al castellano.
Before joining Stribling, Castellano worked prominent New York real estate agencies.
marked the first Triple Crown win for Cloud Computing's trainer, Chad Brown, and the second for Castellano.
Ahora bien, el caso del aprendizaje del castellano como segunda lengua por parte de quechuahablantes y del quechua como segunda lengua por parte de hispanohablantes ofrece tambien un iluminador ejemplo de este fenomeno.