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  • Writer's pictureMaría Molina

Spanish Language Day

Did you know that 23 April, in addition to International Book Day, has been Spanish Language Day at the United Nations since 2010? This is intended to raise awareness among the staff of the Organization, and the world in general, about the history, culture and use of Spanish as an official language.

Why 23 April? In homage to Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of Don Quixote, who died on this day in 1616.

Book Day and Spanish Language Day
Book Day and Spanish Language Day

I will tell you some curiosities about my language.

Some facts

The Cervantes Institute prepares a report on Spanish in the world. The following data have been extracted from the report for the year 2023

  • Almost 500 million people have Spanish as their mother tongue (6.2% of the world's population). It is the second mother tongue in the world after Mandarin Chinese.

  • 599 million people can communicate in Spanish (7.5% of the world's population). It is the fourth most spoken language after English, Mandarin Chinese and Hindi.

  • It is the second most used language on Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

  • Spanish is the second language in which most scientific documents are published.

  • More than 23 million students will study Spanish as a foreign language in 2023.

  • By 2060, the United States will be the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world after Mexico: almost one in three Americans will be Hispanic and it is currently the most widely studied language at all levels of education.

  • In the European Union, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Germany (in that order) are the countries with the highest number of Spanish students.

Where did Spanish originate? A bit of history

Spanish is a Romance language, i.e. it comes from Latin like Portuguese, French, Italian or Romanian. The first thing written in Castilian dates from the 10th century. They are annotations made by a monk of the monastery of Yuso in the margin of a page of a book. This is called Glosas Emilianenses.

Glosas Emilianenses
Glosas Emilianenses

The first grammar of Castilian was written by Antonio de Nebrija in 1492. It is the first work dedicated to the study of the Castilian language and its rules.

The Royal Spanish Academy was created in 1713 to promulgate regulations aimed at promoting language unity in the various territories that make up the so-called Spanish-speaking world. It works in coordination with the 22 existing academies in other Spanish-speaking countries.

Spanish variants

Spanish speakers
Spanish speakers

Spanish, like all other languages, has variants that depend on both geographical location and socio-cultural level. These variants mean that Spanish is not spoken in exactly the same way by everyone, but all Spanish speakers understand each other perfectly well.

It is very important to point out that there is not one Spanish in Spain and another in America. In Spain there are a few varieties and in America, where there are many more speakers and territorial extension, there are many more.

Some authors point out these 8 main varieties of spoken Spanish

  • Spanish

    • Castilian or North-Central

    • Andalusian

    • Canarian

  • American

    • Mexican and Central American

    • Caribbean

    • Andean

    • Chilean

    • Rioplatense and Chaco

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