Jun 01 2004

A Few Facts & Figures

Published by at 12:00 am under The Spanish Language

Spanish is the third most-widely spoken language on the planet behind Chinese and English. Over 350 million people worldwide speak Spanish.

Castilian (Castellano) is the official term for formal Spanish from Spain. Other major dialects include: Cuban, Puerto Rican and Argentine Spanish.

While there are numerous textbooks and phrase books on the market that teach Castilian Spanish, this book teaches Mexican and/or Latin American Spanish, which is more relevant for Americans.

Mexican Spanish is the dialect most familiar to Americans. It uses vocabulary that is closest to American English. The Mexican dialect varies from region to region. The northern “cowboy” variety is louder and slightly rough sounding. In parts of central and southern Mexico the accent sounds almost musical with wide tonal variety.

Interestingly, on the border region of Mexico and the U.S., from Matamoros/Brownsville to San Diego/Tijuana, a mixture of Spanish and English is often spoken. It is called Spanglish or sometimes Tex-Mex. Spanglish speakers freely switch back and forth in conversation between English and Spanish, often in the middle of a sentence. They have also created their own vocabulary, taking words from English and giving them a Spanish twist. Examples include: renta, carpeta, troca, pipa and lonche.

Puerto Rican and Cuban Spanish are recognized by the extremely fast pace of speech and the “eating” of the endings of words. Of all the dialects, Puerto Rican and Cuban Spanish are probably the toughest to comprehend. Thankfully, at least with Puerto Rican Spanish, many American English words are used. Argentine Spanish has an Italian-like rhythm and accent.

Spanish is now America’s second language. Today nearly 15% of the U.S. population is of Hispanic (mostly Mexican) descent. Hispanics are now the largest minority in the country. The United States has the third highest concentration of Spanish speakers in the world behind only Mexico and Spain, and ahead of Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela. Spanish has deep historical links to the United States unlike any other language, with the possible exception of French in Louisiana. Spanish has been spoken in the mountains of northern New Mexico and in southern Colorado for over 500 years.

No responses yet

Leave a Reply