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.

Bibliography

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 ?
They want to give back to the company," Castellano explained.
While Dharma and Bloom may take centre stage, they have surrounded themselves with truly gifted musicians, including charismatic bassist Danny Miranda, drummer Jules Radino - who put in a sterling performance throughout - and Castellano, who also appeared on keyboards and vocals.
El Castellano, capitaneado desde 1931 por Francisco Estebanez, que tambien era su dueno, estuvo marcado desde sus inicios por el rancio conservadurismo religioso de la Real Federacion Burgalesa de Sindicatos Agricolas Catolicos que lo fundo en 1900.
In the new role, Castellano will handle client service, growth and business development.
Before joining Stribling, Castellano worked prominent New York real estate agencies.
The Preakness Stakes, held at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, MD., marked the first Triple Crown win for Cloud Computing's trainer, Chad Brown, and the second for Castellano. "It's like the Superbowl," remarked Castellano.
He is a son of Maclean's Music owned by Klaravich Stables d illi d and William Lawrence, and representing the reigning Eclipse Award-winning pair of jockey Javier Castellano and trainer Chad Brown, hitherto better known for his prowess with turf horses.
El profundo analisis linguistico realizado concluye que los traductores presentan un gran dominio no solo del castellano, sino del gallego, lo que se observa especialmente en el manejo de los verbos.
The ship, Newlead Castellano, will be auctioned off August 8 at a federal courthouse.