Language in Spain: What Languages are Spoken in Spain

Spain is a country which is located in extreme southwestern Europe. It contains 85 % of the area of the Iberian Peninsula and a smaller part of Portugal. Its coastline touches the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean Sea. The largest city in Spain is Madrid. Spain is known for its Bullfights, Flamenco music, dance, and beautiful beaches. Moreover, Spain has always been a cultural hub of Europe for centuries. The official language spoken in Spain is Spanish.

History of Spain

People look up to Spain because of its rich history, diverse culture, stable economy, and high standard of living. If we look at Muslim history, then we will come to know that Spain is remembered with two names Hispania and Andalus. Muslims ruled Spain for about eight centuries. They made Spain the most civilized and diverse land in the world. Muslims from all around the world wish to visit Spain to witness high Muslim civilization.

Spain was ruled by different rulers in different eras. The Romans and Carthaginians fought for Spain and Arabs conquered it. Moreover, Catholic Monarchs re-discover it and made it a magnificent empire of the world. At pre-roman times, the Iberian Peninsula was resided by different ethnic groups. The Iberos captured the Ebro Basin, Valencia, Castellon Murica and Alicante.

The Celts who came from Central Europe started residing on the Atlanta coast and the Interior Meseta plateau. On the other hand, the Phoenicians settled on the Andalusian coast and discovered Adra, Almunecar, Malaga, and Cadiz. Moreover, Carthaginians who came from Africa reside in Ibiza, Balearic Islands, and Cartagena.

Tartessians and Greeks reside on the peninsula. Each ethnic group speaks a different language. The settlement of diverse ethnic groups results in the formation and history of languages spoken in Spain.

Latin Language

When the Mediterranean region was conquered by Roman Empire, they set the Latin language in all the territories. It is a process of Latinization. It resulted in the extinction of local languages and a boost to the Latin language which was also a language of invaders.

During the era of the Roman empire, the Latin language was used by the entire population. Although Latin entered Hispania in full swing and it evolved by mingling with other local languages. During that time, Latin played an important role in the formation of romance languages.

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Influence on Spanish Languages

When the Roman Empire comes across economic and social difficulties, then the other groups took advantage of it. The Visigoths who looted Rome and invaded the Roman Empire ruled Spain for 300 years. They didn’t impact Latin and its different variations, However; it adds Germanic vocabulary in the language in Spanish.

In 711, Hispania was captured by Muslims and converted into the New Caliphate of Cordoba. They captured all the area of Spain except the kingdom of Castile which is in the North. The Arabs have influenced the Spanish and 4,000 words in Spanish have been taken from Arabic.

8 Most Common Languages in Spain

The ethnic diversity of Spain has increased the use of language in Spain. Many different languages are spoken in the country. Let’s dive into the details.

  • Spanish
  • Catalan
  • Galician
  • Basque
  • Asturian
  • Arabic
  • Aranese
  • Valencian

Most Spoken Language in Spanish

The language in Spanish is originated from a dialect of spoken Latin which came into the Iberian Peninsula by the Romans during the second world war. At the beginning of 218 BC, when the Roman Empire fell in the fifth century, the written form of Spanish was developed in the cities of Madrid and Toledo.  In the past 1000 years, the language was expanded south of the Mediterranean Sea, and later on, it moved to the Spanish colonial empire, especially in the USA.

At present, Spanish is the official language of 20 countries. Moreover, it is also an official language of the United Nations and other international organizations. You will be amazed to know that in Spain, besides Spanish number of other regional languages are also spoken.

Catalan

Catalan is one of the most spoken regional languages in Spain. It is widely spoken in the independent territories of Aragon, Valencia, Balearic Islands, Catalan, and Murcia with different regional dialects. It is the official language of Andorra. Moreover, it is widely spoken in some areas of Italy and France.

Catalan is spoken by 11 million people that live in four countries. It is the most spoken regional language in the European Union. Around 35% of the population in Catalonia speaks Catalan as their mother tongue. Moreover, 95% of the population in Catalonia understands the Catalan language.

Some people think that Catalan and Spanish are similar languages but they are mistaken. Catalonians are very specific about their language and want Catalan to be recognized as a separate language.

Galician

The other widely spoken regional language in Spain is Galician. Like Spanish and Catalan, it is also from a family of romance languages. Its history is dated back to Latin. Around 3 million people in Galicia speak this language. Modern Galician is a part of the West Iberian languages group.

It includes the Portuguese language which originated from Vulgar Latin. It changed with time and today, it is called Galician-Portuguese. The difference in its dialects is noticeable in the northern and southern forms of Galician-Portuguese writings in the 13th century.

These two dialects are mutually intelligible and they maintain their cultural unity till the 14th century. Later on, it resulted in the formation of the Galician-Portuguese. The changes in the language are still taking place making it a modern form of Galician and Portuguese.

Basque

In Spain, you will come across another wonderful language, Basque. Basque is an isolated language that is not associated with any other language which makes it a unique language in Europe. Approximately, 700,000 people in the Basque speak this language. Basque is an area with the border of Spanish and French at the Western end of the Pyrenees. Basque people consider Basque and Spanish as their mother tongue.

Different dialects of Basque are spoken in the media, school, and other aspects of life. Although Basque is not related to Spanish, it has taken many loanwords from the language in Spanish. Basque people are famous for their nationalism. Therefore, many local people prefer to learn this difficult language.

Asturian

Asturian is a romance language. It is widely spoken in the northwest region of Asturias. It is mutually intelligible with Spanish. Unfortunately, Asturian is an endangered language and it is native to only 110,000  speakers. It is closely related to Mirandese and was influenced by pre-Roman languages spoken in the Asturias region.

It is not an official language of Spain but the people of Spain take interest in its preservation. Therefore, in April 2018 thousands of protesters came out to support the Asturian language. The first writing of Asturian appeared in 1155.

Arabic

Arabic has been a dominant language of the Iberian Peninsula for many years. It gained popularity in the eighth century when Islamic invaders captured Spain and Portugal. Al-Andalus is a renowned territory in the Peninsula and is the wealthiest region of the world. Cordoba is the largest city in Spain.

Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived peacefully together. When the rule of Muslims started to weaken in al-Andalus, Leaders of Christian kingdoms tried to reconquer it. Therefore, Spain was returned to Christian rule in the 13th century and after the fall of Granada, the Reconquista was completed in 1492. Although 500 years have passed since the end of al-Andalus, its influence is still seen in the more Spanish language.

At present, Arabic is widely spoken in Spain. People living in Ceuta, and Melilla have increased Spain’s population and they speak the Arabic language Arabic language. Many people opt to learn the Arabic language to know the medieval past of Spain.

Aranese 

Aranese is the official language in Val d’Aran which is located in the northwest region of Catalonia. The strange part is that it is not recognized in the rest of Catalonia.

Valencian

Valencia is in one of the dialects of Catalan. But according to some authorities, it is a separate language. There are approximately five or six official languages spoken in Spain and it depends upon you which languages you include or exclude. One other unofficial language of Spain is Leonese, but it is considered a dead language.

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Regional Languages Spoken in Spain

Regional languages in Spain have a very tricky history. Their use today is still a political issue. In the dictatorship of Francisco Franco that lasted from 1936 to 1975, the use of regional languages was banned in public places. In schools, theatres, churches, and media, they prefer to speak Spanish Castellano to develop unity in the nation.

All the names of streets and landmarks are renamed. Moreover, all cultural institutions were closed and the traces of regional language in libraries have been eradicated. Despite all these restrictions, the regional languages paved their way. After the end of the Franco dictatorship, many efforts were made to bring the regional languages back into all spheres of life.

 At present, Spanish Castellano is the official language of Spain. According to the Constitution of Spain, all Spaniards have to know this language and they have to use it. Moreover, the Spanish institution also depicts Spain’s linguistic diversity. According to them, “The richness of Spain’s linguistic diversity is a cultural asset which must be respected and protected.”

The other languages of Spain are called co-official languages which are spoken in different communities independently. For instance, Catalan in Catalonia, Basque in the Basque region, and Galician in Galicia.

Immigrant Languages of Spain

To your surprise, 6.1 million Spanish people are born in different countries. This represents 13% of the population. Most people come from European Union, Morocco, China, Russia, and Latin America. Therefore, it has increased the language diversity of Spain and immigrant languages spoken in Spain are Russian, Chinese, Portuguese, Italian, French, German, English, Arabic, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Spanish and Latin American.

Wrapping Up

Do you want to visit Spain and want to witness the rich Spanish heritage? CCJK is here for your document translation needs. It has a team of native translators that provide you with seamless language translation services in more than 120 languages. For further details, contact us.

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