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  • Writer's pictureMaría Molina

Spanish or Castilian: Which should be used?

Castilian and Spanish are two ways of referring to the same language. It is the mother tongue of more than 496 million people in the world, according to data from 2022. That is, the second mother tongue after Mandarin Chinese.


This is what is really important, but what is more correct?


The Pan-Hispanic Dictionary of Doubts edited by the Royal Spanish Academy and the Association of Spanish Language Academies says:

“To designate the common language of Spain and of many American nations, and which is also spoken as its own in other parts of the world, the terms Castilian and Spanish are valid. The controversy over which of these denominations is correct is now over. The Spanish term is more recommendable because it lacks ambiguity and is the name used internationally (Spanish, espagnol, Spanisch, spagnolo, etc.)”


So speaking Spanish, you are not wrong.


And what is said in Spain? Well, according to the same source: "In Spain, the name Castilian is also used when referring to the common language of the State in relation to the other co-official languages ​​in their respective autonomous territories, such as Catalan , Galician or Basque” This means that, for example, in Galicia, Spanish and Galician are spoken, in educational centers the teaching of both languages ​​is guaranteed and laws are published, also in both languages.


In fact, Article 3 of the Spanish Constitution says: “Castilian is the official Spanish language of the State. All Spaniards have a duty to know it and the right to use it. The other Spanish languages ​​will also be official in the respective Autonomous Communities (regions) in accordance with their Statutes …”


The co-official languages in Spain and the territories are:

- Euskera: Basque Country and Basque-speaking part of Navarra

- Galician: Galicia

- Catalan: Catalonia and the Balearic Islands

- Valencian: Valencia


Majority use of Spanish or Castilian
Majority use of Spanish or Castilian

And in other Spanish-speaking countries, how is the official language included in their constitutions? Well, there are some, like Argentina, where it is not mentioned, others like Colombia say that its official language is Castilian, and others like Cuba call it Spanish.

For example, in the Colombian Constitution it is stated in its Article 10: “Castilian is the official language of Colombia. The languages ​​and dialects of the ethnic groups are also official in their territories. The education given in communities with their own linguistic traditions will be bilingual”.


And in the Constitution of Cuba, in its Article 2: "The name of the Cuban State is the Republic of Cuba, the official language is Spanish and its capital is Havana..."


Some of you may not know that Spanish is the official language of Equatorial Guinea. Article 4 of its constitution states: "The official language of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea is Spanish. Aboriginal languages are recognised as part of the national culture".


Maybe you are even more lost after reading this. I hope you are not


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