Do you remember when you were in middle school or high school? In many schools, students are often recommended to take a foreign language course as one of their electives. Some people take French, while others will take German. Yet, according The National K-12 Foreign Language Enrollment Survey Report, a whopping 69.21% of students were studying Spanish in the 2014-15 academic school year.
As students learn the language, they’re going to be learning a lot about the Spanish language, the culture, and much more. With that said, here are 10 interesting and unusual tidbits about the Spanish language that teachers may not touch on.
10 Interesting and Unusual Facts About the Spanish Language
1. The Spanish Language is a Romance Language
There’s a reason why so many people become entranced when listening to someone speak Spanish, and that reason is because it’s one of the languages that can be classified as a ‘Romance Language.’
Other languages in this category include:
2. The First Written Record of Spanish Dates Back to 964 AD
The El Cantar del Mio Cid was an anonymous poem that dated back to the 12th century, but that isn’t the very first document ever recorded using the Spanish Language. Long before the 12th century, 964 AD to be precise, an unnamed author took notes in the margins of a Latin religious manuscript using Spanish and Basque.
3. Spanish Is A Phonetic Language
People tend to know simple Spanish words such as siesta, cava, tortilla, and tapas. Unlike English where we have some words with silent letters (we’re looking at you muscle, asthma, receipt and knead), every letter is pronounced a certain way each and every time it’s used. This means that for people just learning the language will have an easier learning experience.
With that said, Spanish is a gendered language. That means it has masculine and feminine words and articles of speech. When you’re using these gendered words, you must also use the corresponding gendered adjectives and articles.
4. Spanish Words and Conjugations that Use all 5 Vowels Have a Unique Name
The Spanish language has two terms for words and conjugations that use all 5 vowels, pentavocálicas or panvocálicas, which actually means “five vowels.” There are 40,000 of these words and some examples include:
5. Telanovelas, or Soap Operas, are the Most Popular Soap Operas in the World
Many popular Spanish soap operas, or telanovelas, are produced in Mexico and the shows are viewed all around the world. The Guinness Book of World Records even recognized the telanovela, Yo soy Betty, la fea, as being the most successful telenovela in television history. This particular show is shown in over 100 countries, dubbed into 15 languages – English being one of them.
6. The Spanish Language has an Organization that’s “in-charge” of the Language
The Royal Spanish Academy is responsible for looking after the Spanish language. The Academy was formed in the 18th century and is located in Madrid, Spain. Over the years, the Academy has published grammar rule books which are the go-to book in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries.
7. Accent Makes Make a Big Difference in Spanish Vocabulary
There are quite a few words in Spanish that are spelled quite similarly. To differentiate those words, some syllables will need more emphasis when they’re being pronounced. This is where the accent marks come into play. When reading Spanish, you’ll see an accent mark over the vowels (á, é, í, ó, ú) and that will let you know where the emphasis should go. One example is caminó, which is the past tense form of the verb caminar (to walk), whereas camino means road or way.
8. Spanish Is Known by Two Names: Castellano and Español
People who speak Spanish refer to their language as español but some people will call it castellano, which is Spanish for “Castilian.”
The use of these terms will vary depending on the region you’re in, but it also can reflect the regions political and social views. The term “Castilian Spanish” can sometimes be used to indicate the different dialects in the northern and central areas of Spain. Sometimes the term is also used to refer to the Spanish spoken in Spain and not Spanish spoken in Latin America.
9. There Have Been 11 Spanish Recipients of the Noble Prize for Literature
From 1904 to 2010, Spanish literature has received the Nobel Prize 11 times over the years. The recipients are:
10. The Spanish Language was Influenced by Arabic
In 711 AD, Arab armies began conquering the Iberian Peninsula. With this came Arabic architecture, art and language. Over time, the Arabic language began getting mixed in with old Spanish, thus creating the Spanish language we know and love today.
Final Thoughts on Interesting Facts About the Spanish Language
There are 21 countries in the world that designate Spanish as the official language, thus making it a very usual language to learn. Not only are 18 million students learning the language, it is estimated that 10% of the world’s population will speak and understand the language.
We hope that these interesting facts gives you a little better appreciation of the language as you learn it. Just be sure to check the Spanish dictionary from time to time because the Royal Spanish Academy is always adding new words to the dictionary. The newest words include chatear (to chat online) and bloguero (blogger).