Cultural Bytes | Interactive Language Program

Languages of Spain

Languages of Spain

Old Los Angeles
Photo by Ralph (Ravi) Kayden on Unsplash

Where does Spanish come from? There are many countries who identify Spanish as their main or official language. Countries just south of our border, many are Spanish speaking countries. Spanish comes from Spain, yet it is not called Spanish there, it is called Castillian, and it is not the only official language there!


“Spanish is not the only official language there!”

Ties with France

Historically Spain had been divided between Christian kingdoms and Muslim kingdoms. Isabella I of Castile was Queen in her own right over the kingdom of Castile. Her marriage to King Ferdinand II of Aragon unified the majority of Spain. Leaving the southern area of Spain that it was under the rule of the Moorish kingdom. Through their success of the reconquista, these monarchs successfully unified all of Spain and declared Castilian as the official language of Spain. Yet many areas of Spain had their own languages such as Catalan, Basque, and Galician. These languages are still spoken in Spain and are co-official languages of the country. 

Catalan is largely spoken in Spain, primarily in Catalonia. It is mandatory to use it in schools and is used in mass media. Basque or as known in the native tongue, Euskara, is primarily spoken in the Basque country, in the northern parts of Spain and southern parts of France as well! It is not part of the groups of Romance languages. Basque is an ancient language, pre-existing Romance languages. Lastly, Galician is spoken in the area of Galicia in north western Spain.

The language is related to Portuguese in the sense that they developed from a common ancestor. During the rule of the dictator, Francisco Franco, these languages were repressed and forbidden to be spoken. After the end of World War II laws were made to change that and these languages became co-official. So if you ever get the chance to visit Spain, you will know that Spanish is not the only language that you will find there!

 

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