20 Fun Facts About Spanish


Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. With over 400 million native and non-native speakers across the globe, Spanish has a rich history and culture behind it. From its origins to how it has influenced other languages, here are 20 captivating facts about this Romance language that will make you want to learn Español.

1. Over 559 Million People Speak Spanish

Spanish, also known as Castilian or Español, is currently spoken by 559 million people globally as of 2022. This makes it the second most spoken language worldwide after English and Chinese.

2. Spanish is a Romance Language

Spanish belongs to the Romance branch of Indo-European languages. This means it originated from Vulgar or Common Latin during the Roman conquest of the Iberian Peninsula between 218-201 BC. The term “Romance Language” comes from the fact that these languages use words derived from Roman vernacular Latin.

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3. It Has Two Co-Official Names

Spanish has two official names – Español and Castellano. Español is used to refer to the language as a whole, while Castellano (Castilian) refers to the standard variant of Spanish based on the dialect of North-Central Spain.

4. Spanish is Phonetic

One of the best things about Spanish is that it’s almost fully phonetic. This means if you know how a word is written, you’ll know exactly how to pronounce it. The Spanish alphabet contains 27 characters with each letter having a single invariable sound associated with it.

5. The Royal Academy Sets Language Rules

The Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy), founded in 1713, is the official royal institution responsible for overseeing and setting the rules for the Spanish language. It defines spellings, grammar rules, translations, etc. to standardize the language internationally.

6. Many Variants Exist Based on Regions

While Castilian Spanish sets the standard rules, numerous regional varieties of Spanish exist based on pronunciation, slang terms, usage, vocabulary etc. These include Mexican Spanish, Rioplatense Spanish in Argentina, Caribbean Spanish, etc.

7. Spanish Borrows Heavily from Arabic

It may be surprising, but Arabic has heavily influenced Spanish – nearly 8% of modern Spanish vocabulary is drawn from Arabic. This is because of the Moorish rule over Iberian Peninsula for over 700 years. Common words like “ojalá” (god willing), “almohada” (pillow) have Arabic roots.

8. Third Most Used Language Online

With over 82 million internet users, Spanish is the third most used language online after English and Mandarin. This is set to rise further as more Spanish speakers come online every year.

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9. Two Phrases to Say “I Love You”

Spanish has two common phrases used to express affection or love – “Te amo” and “Te quiero”. While “Te amo” translates to “I love you” romantically between couples or family, “Te quiero” means affection in a friendly context.

10. Also Known as Castilian

The origins of the name “Castilian” come from the Kingdom of Castile where it was first formally documented and recognized as the Kingdom’s standard language in the 13th century. Over the centuries, Castilian Spanish evolved into modern Spanish.

11. Spanish Adopted Amerindian Words

Spanish adopted several words from indigenous Amerindian languages into its lexicon, especially during Spain’s occupation of Latin America. Common food words like “chocolate”, “barbeque”, “potato” etc can trace their origins to American languages.

12. El Cantar de Mio Cid – Earliest Spanish Literary Work

Considered the first literary work written fully in Spanish, El Cantar de Mio Cid was written in the medieval era around 1140 CE. This epic poem tells the story of the hero Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar aka El Cid during the Moorish rule.

13. World’s Second Most Studied Language

After English, Spanish is the world’s second most studied language boasting over 26 million students globally across over 90 countries. More and more people are learning Spanish for travel, business or leisure.

14. Words Borrowed from Taíno & Other Languages

Spanish adapted several words from the Taíno language spoken by natives in the Caribbean. Common food items like “maiz” (corn) and “batata” (sweet potato) entered Spanish from the Taíno vocabulary. Spanish also borrowed words from Basque, Galician, French, and Italian dialects.

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15. New Tech Words Created by Adding -ear

Spanish easily forms new words for modern technology and trends by adding the suffix “-ear” to English words – like “chatear” (chat), “clickear” (click), “googlear” (google). This allows it to expand and modernize vocabulary efficiently.

16. UN Spanish Language Day!

The United Nations established April 23 as Spanish Language Day annually to highlight the importance of the language and respect cultural diversity. It coincides with the date of death of Miguel de Cervantes creator of Don Quixote.

17. 470 Million Native Speakers

Of the 559 million Spanish speakers, about 470 million people speak it as their mother tongue or first language according to Cervantes Institute. This shows Spanish remains hugely popular in Spain and Latin America.

18. Spanish Contributed Widespread Cultural Influence

Beyond just the language, Spanish culture has also made its mark globally introducing the universal concepts of “siesta”, tasty tapas, sangria and paella dishes, iconic artists like Picasso and Antonio Gaudi, and famous fictional hero Zorro!

19. Home to Famed Literary Greats Like Don Quixote

The iconic, timeless novel “Don Quixote” published in 1615 by Miguel de Cervantes is considered to be the first modern novel. Other famed literary works in Spanish include Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” highlighting its rich literary history.

20. A Language of the Future & Continued Growth

Given demographic trends, it’s estimated 750 million people will speak Spanish by 2050 cementing its status globally as a language central for business, travel, internet content and more! Learning Español clearly has a bright future with no signs of slowing down.

So there you have it – 20 remarkable facts showcasing the origins, vitality and influence of the Spanish language across history and different cultures. Already keen to start speaking Español? ¡Buena suerte!

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