Spain – The Language

  • Did you know that the language we call Spanish is actually called Castellano?
  • Did you also know that while it is the number one official language of the country there are also other official languages of Spain?
  • Did you know that Spanish is spoken by nearly 500 million people worldwide?

The Castellano (Castilian) Spanish is the only official language of the state, other languages are only co-official with Spanish in the communities but knowledge of the Spanish language was declared a right and an obligation of all Spaniards.

Spanish legislation in the bi-lingual communities use the term lengua propia (own language) to refer to a language other than Spanish that originated or had historical roots in that particular territory.

Spanish is one of the languages with the largest number of speakers in the world.  It is the first language of 20 countries worldwide and it is estimated that the combined total number of Spanish speakers is between 470 and 500 million, making it the second or, some say the third, most widely spoken language in terms of native speakers (Mandarin Chinese is first and English is either second or now third!).

The Spanish language, as we know it, is actually called Castellano and the Spanish Constitution of 1978 uses the term castellano to define the official language of the entire Spanish State.  It is the first language of over 74% of the Spanish population but there are 4 other official languages – Gallego (7%) is spoken in the region of Galicia and in the País Vasco (Basque Country) spoken by increasing numbers of the population is Euskera (2%), Catalán (17%) is spoken in Cataluña and las Islas Baleares (Balearic Islands), and the closely-related Valenciano in the Valencia region. All these languages have official regional status.

During Franco’s dictatorship many of these languages in Spain were repressed but with the democracy these regional languages are once again legitimate and an acceptable means of communication.  The teaching of these languages is  the responsibility of the autonomous community.

In the EU in 2004 Spain’s co-official languages were institutionalized which means that citizens have the right to use these languages to communicate with the EU. It also means that the languages can be used at meetings within the EU though there are certain conditions applied with regards to translating and interpreting.

As in England there are also different dialects like Geordie, Northern, Southern, London, Norfolk, Cornish etc but to the untrained ear they might not be discernible.  It is all the same language just spoken with a different regional accent!

In addition to the variations in Spain that enrich the country it is interesting to note there are also certain dialects of Castellano that have developed their own uniqueness. This is most obvious in different parts of Andalucia. In Western Andalucia the language spoken shares many characteristics with Latin American Spanish. This is due to the fact that the majority of the Spanish settlers to the New World were from this region.  Another interesting case is found in the Canary Islands where the linguistic influence of the Spanish from western Andalucia, Portuguese and English is evident. This mixture of influences reflects the Canary Island’s geographical position as a common historical stopping spot during overseas travel between America and Europe.  Try asking where the guagua stops or if the restaurant has durazno or toronja on the menu!

The Spanish language is of Latin origin and has a rich and long history of development.  As a foreign language, Spanish is the second most studied language in the world after English so to learn it and already know English can help you immensely in the world!


Now try and answer the following 5 questions from the sociocultural part of the Nationality Test.  ¡Buena suerte!

El Instituto Cervantes, el Instituto Ramón Llull y el Instituto Vasco Etxepare son organismos que promueven, respectivamente y entre otros, la difusión de las lenguas:

  •  española, catalana y gallega
  •  gallega, catalana y vasca
  •  española, catalana y vasca

Todos los españoles tienen el deber de conocer la lengua:

  •  oficial
  •  local
  •  autonómica

La lengua oficial del Estado español es:

  •  el francés
  •  el castellano
  •  el inglés

En España, además de castellano, son lenguas oficiales en sus respectivas comunidades autónomas: el aranés, el catalán, el gallego, el valenciano y el _______.

  •  bable
  •  euskera
  •  aragonés

La enseñanza de las lenguas cooficiales es competencia de:

  •  el Gobierno provincial
  •  la comunidad autónoma
  •  el Estado

If you have any questions or queries related to the above, do not hesitate to get in contact with one of our experts filling in the enquiry form below