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Spanish language


Spanish (i/ˈspænɪʃ/, español), also called Castilian (i/kæsˈtɪliən/, castellano (help •info)), is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain. Approximately 470 million people speak Spanish as a native language, making it second only to Mandarin in terms of its number of native speakers worldwide.[5] There are an estimated 548 million Spanish speakers as a first or second language, including speakers with limited competence and 20 million students of Spanish as a foreign language.[6] Spanish is one of the six official languages of the United Nations, and it is used as an official language by the European Union, the Organization of American States, and the Union of South American Nations, among many other international organizations. History The Spanish language evolved from Vulgar Latin (colloquial Latin), which was brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Romans during the Second Punic War, beginning in 210 BC. Previously, several pre-Roman languages (also called Paleohispanic languages)—unrelated to Latin, and some of them unrelated even to Indo-European—were spoken in the Iberian Peninsula. These languages included Basque (still spoken today), Iberian, Celtiberian and Celtic. Traces of Basque especially, can be found in the Spanish vocabulary today, mainly in place names. Word order The subject of word order in Spanish can be quite complex, so this lesson should be considered merely an introduction. As you study Spanish, you will encounter a wide variety of ways of ordering words in a sentence, many of them ways that are impossible or awkward in English. Segmental phonology The Spanish phonemic inventory consists of five vowel phonemes (/a/, /e/, /i/,/o/, /u/) and 17 to 19 consonant phonemes (the exact number depending on the dialect). The main allophonic variation among vowels is the reduction of the high vowels /i/ and /u/ to glides—[j] and [w] respectively—when unstressed and adjacent to another vowel. Some instances of the mid vowels /e/ and /o/, determined lexically, alternate with the diphthongs [je] and [we] respectively when stressed, in a process that is better described as morphophonemic rather than phonological, as it is not predictable from phonology alone.