Spanish Language

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by Connor Grooms

The Spanish language is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world, both as a native language and a second language. It is one of the Romance languages, meaning it is originally descended from the Latin language, and is the most widely spoken Romance language today by a substantial margin.

Geographic Spread

Spanish is the official language of most countries in South America and Central America, as well as Spain. A notable exception is Brazil; although a large portion of the population of Brazil is able to speak Spanish, usually as a second and sometimes even as a first language, the official language of Brazil is Portuguese.

Spanish is also notably the official language in the Philippines and Equatorial Guinea, although it is not officially recognized elsewhere in the region. Historically, Spanish colonization is responsible for the spread of the language to other areas, so it is spoken in many areas where it is not an officially recognized language.


The languages that are today Spanish and Portuguese both began to develop from Latin after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The Spanish variant originally developed and was spoken in the region of Spain known after Castile; as a result it was originally called and is still sometimes referred to as Castilian. Because of this close relationship, Spanish and Portuguese are linguistically very similar, though they vary enough to justify their distinction as two separate languages. No other Romance languages, such as French, are nearly as close linguistically to Spanish as is Portuguese.

Flag of Spain

[image by Pedro A. Gracia Fajardo]


Modern History and Statistics

As of 2008, Spanish was generally considered to be the second most common native language in the world, with the second being above even Mandarin Chinese. It ranked just slightly above English, which was only the third most common native language in the world. Linguistic statistics can be difficult to measure accurately, especially because census methods are not consistent worldwide, but in general the statistics show that in the present the gap between English and Spanish is significantly larger, due to the growth in population in Latin American countries over the past 8 years.

Note that there is a significant difference between ranking languages by the number of first language speakers or native speakers, and just by total number of fluent speakers.

Works Cited

“The 10 Most Spoken Languages in the World.” The Babbel Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Aug. 2016. <>.

“Spanish.” Ethnologue. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Aug. 2016. <>.


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