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the official and literary language of Spain, all countries of Central and South America (except for Brazil, Haiti, Guyana, Surinam, and the islands of the Lesser Antilles), and Mexico. Spanish is also used by the populations of the former Spanish colonies of Morocco, Tangier (Africa), the Philippine Islands (along with Tagalog), and the southern areas of the USA (along with English). Ladino (called judeoespañol), which is spoken by Sephardic Jews—descendants of the Jews who were driven out of Spain in 1492—is found in the Balkans and the Middle East. Spanish is spoken by more than 170 million people, including 26 million in Spain (1970, estimate).
Spanish is divided into two main groups of dialects: the northern group, which is subdivided into the dialect of León and Asturias and the Aragón dialect, and the southern group, which consists of the dialects of Andalusia, Murcia, and Estremadura (estremeño). There are also many regional variants in the Latin American countries. The specific features of Latin American Spanish are primarily in the areas of vocabulary and pronunciation.
The Spanish language represents the continuation and subsequent development of Vulgar Latin, which was brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Romans during the Second Punic War (218–201 B.C.) and which replaced the language of the aboriginal Iberian population. The subsequent conquests of Spain by Germanic tribes (fifth century) and Arabs (from the eighth to the 15th century) affected only the vocabulary of Spanish. Since the Castilian dialect formed the basis for literary Spanish, Spanish was for a long time known as Castilian (el castelland).
The sound system of Spanish underwent drastic changes in comparison with Vulgar Latin; initial Latin f shifted to h and later disappeared from pronunciation, being retained only in the orthography (Latin filium > Spanish hijo [ikho], “son”); the consonant clusters fl, pl, and cl were reduced to soft l (Il) in initial word position (Latin flammam > Spanish llama, “flame”); plosive consonants became voiced in intervocalic position (Latin apothecam > Spanish bodega, “cellar”); and the short stressed vowels ǒ and ě in Latin were diphthongized in Spanish (Latin sortem > Spanish suerte, “fortune”).
Modern Spanish has five simple vowels (a, o, e, i, u), a large number of diphthongs and triphthongs, and 18 consonants—16 hard and two soft (Il and ñ). Words ending in a vowel, n, or s are accented on the penultimate syllable (Dolores; canto, “song,” “singing”), and words ending in other consonants bear the stress on the final syllable (cristal, “glass”). All exceptions to these rules are indicated in writing by an accent mark (magnífico, “magnificent”). Spanish uses the Roman alphabet. A distinctive feature of Spanish orthography is the inverted question and exclamation marks, as in ¿Qué hora es? (“What time is it?”) and ¡Qué niña más mona! (“What a cute little girl!”).
The basic structural features of modern Spanish grammar were formed by the end of the 16th century. Nouns and adjectives are not declined, and word order is relatively free. The verb has 115 morphological and analytical (using the auxiliary verb haber, “to have”) forms. There are many periphrastic (descriptive) forms that convey various temporal and aspectual nuances.
Most Spanish words are derived from Vulgar Latin, although their meanings have changed during the long process of development (compare Latin famelicum, “hungry,” with Spanish jamelgo, “jade,” “nag”). Latin words also entered Spanish from Classical Latin in later periods. The Spanish vocabulary contains words of German origin and borrowings from French, Italian, and Arabic. Other European languages received words through Spanish, such as numerous Arabic words (for example, “algebra,” “cipher,” and “zenith”) and words of American Indian origin (tomate, “tomato,” chocolate, “chocolate,” tabaco, “tobacco,” maiz, “maíze,” quina, “quina,” cacao, “cocoa”).
REFERENCESShishmarev, V. F. Ocherki po istorii iazykov Ispanii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1941.
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Levintova, E. I., and E. M. Vol’f. Ispanskii iazyk: Grammaticheskii ocherk, literaturnye teksty s kommentariiami i slovarem. Moscow, 1964.
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Menéndez Pidal, R. Manual de gramática histórica española, 11th ed. Madrid, 1962.
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Gili y Gaya, S. Curso superior de sintaxis española, 7th ed. Barcelona, 1960.
Diccionario de la lengua española, 19th ed. Madrid, 1970.
Corominas, J. Diccionario crítico etimológico de la lengua castellana, vols. 1–4. Madrid, 1954–57.
N. D. ARUTIUNOVA