views updated May 23 2018

SPANISH A Romance language of Western Europe, spoken by c.250m people worldwide: the official language of Spain (including the Balearic and Canary Islands), and most of the nations of Central and South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, PANAMA, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela. In Paraguay, official status is shared with Guarani, and in Peru, with Quechua, both Amerindian languages. Spanish is spoken in the US, especially in the Southwest (Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas), Florida, parts of Louisiana, and such cosmopolitan cities as New York City and Chicago, as well as in the Commonwealth of PUERTO RICO. It has also been spoken on the Caribbean island of Trinidad and by Sephardic Jews in North Africa, Turkey, and the Balkans. In Africa, it is the official language of Equatorial Guinea and is spoken in parts of Morocco and in the Spanish COASTAL enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. In Asia, it is spoken by a small minority in the Philippines. There have been Spanish CREOLES in Colombia, the Caribbean, and the Philippines.


Historically, Spanish evolved out of Late Vulgar Latin, with minor Germanic and major ARABIC influence. Its history is divided into three periods: Old Spanish (c.750–1500), Renaissance Spanish (1500 to 1808, the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars in Spain), and Modern Spanish (since 1808). At the close of the Roman period (early 5c), the Iberian Peninsula was overrun by the Vandals and Visigoths, Germanic invaders who contributed such war-related vocabulary as brida (bridle), dardo (dart), guerra (war), and hacha (axe). During the Muslim period (711–1492), when much of the peninsula was held by Moorish rules, ARABIC loanwords were absorbed into the local post-Latin dialects, such as aceituna an olive, ahorrar to save, albóndiga a meatball, alfalfa, algebra, alquilar rent, cifra a cipher, zero, naranja an orange, ojala may Allah grant, may it happen, if only, some hope. This influx appears to have been made easy by the Christians who lived in Moorish territories: they were known as mozárabes, from Arabic musta'rib, Arabicized. Many of them were probably bilingual, speaking Arabic and the now-extinct variety of Spanish known as Mozarabic. The national epic, El poema/cantar de mío Cid (the Poem/Song of My Lord), in which the word cid is of Arabic origin (as-sīd lord), is from the period of the Reconquest.

Works of literature first appeared in Spanish c.1150 and a literary language was firmly established by the 15c. Three pivotal events all occurred in 1492: (1) ‘The Catholic kings’, Ferdinand and Isabella of Castile and Aragon, completed the reconquest of Spain by taking Granada, the last Moorish kingdom. (2) Christopher Columbus, acting on their behalf, sailed west to find China and India and instead discovered the Americas. (3) The first grammar of a modern European language was published, Antonio de Nebrija's Gramática de la lengua castellana (Grammar of the Castilian Language), duly followed by his dictionary and orthography. Spain became a world power and the centre of a vast empire. The standard language of Spain and its empire was based on Castilian (the dialect of Castile), and for this reason continues to be referred to in Spanish as both castellano and espan̄ol.

Spanish in the United States

Spanish has been spoken longer than English in what is now the US. Spanish settlement in San Agustin, Florida, dates from 1565, various areas in new Mexico were settled in 1598, and settlements in California were established from 1769 on. As the English-speaking US expanded, it incorporated territory originally held by Spain (Florida), France (the Louisiana Purchase), and Mexico (the Southwest, from Texas to California). Spanish was also incorporated into the US, by the addition of TEXAS in 1845 and the rest of the Southwest by the Mexican Cession in 1848. Although statehood for the Territory of New Mexico was delayed until 1912 at least partly because of a lack of English-speaking citizens, Spanish was later granted legal status there along with English. Puerto Rico became associated with the US in 1898 and currently has Commonwealth status, with Puerto Ricans holding US citizenship.

In recent years, immigration from Latin America has made Spanish the second most widely spoken language in the US. The influx of Cubans into Florida beginning in 1960 turned the Miami-Dade County area into a centre of Hispanic language and culture. In the Southwest, immigration from Mexico increased during and shortly after the Mexican Revolution (1912–15), after World War II, and in the 1980s, Immigration from Central America also increased rapidly in the 1980s. The increasing Hispanic population has given some areas outside the Southwest and Florida a decidedly Hispanic flavour, including the cities of New York and Chicago. In all areas, bilingual education has been implemented as a method for bringing new immigrants to fluency in English in the shortest time. In reaction, however, many (including some Hispanics and members of other immigrant groups) have supported the appeals of the organization US English, which advocates a constitutional amendment to declare English the official language of the country and seeks the elimination of bilingual education.

Spanish in English

Because of the reintroduction of Greek learning to Europe by the Arabs in Spain and then the great wealth and power of the new empire, 16c Spain was a major centre of learning. Spanish was a language of high prestige throughout Europe, and in late 16c England was the subject of a number of linguistic treatises, including Richard Percivall's Bibliotheca Hispanica, Containing a Grammar, with a Dictionarie in Spanish, English, and Latine (1591). The Real Academia (Royal Academy) was founded in 1713, on the model of the French Academy (1637), in order to limpia, fija, y da esplendor (‘purify, fix, and lend splendour’) to the language, the motto on the great seal of the Academy that appears on the spine and title page of all volumes of the Academy's dictionary.

The influence of Spanish on English at large has extended over centuries and been primarily lexical. Phonological and grammatical influences have occurred relatively rarely and recently in the Americas, and have been limited to particular regions and varieties. English shares with Spanish a large vocabulary derived from Latin, due especially to the impact of Norman French after the 11c Norman Conquest of England. During the 16–17c, a time of rapid colonial expansion among the seafaring nations of Europe, Spain and England were competing to amass empires and influence, and Spanish had its first direct impact. Loan-words of the 16c include the orthographically unadapted words armada, cargo, desperado, flotilla, mosquito, mulatto, negro, pec(c)adillo, sombrero and the adapted ambush, cannibal, cask, cigar, comrade, jennet, parade, renegade, sherry. Other loans have entered the language since then, such as unadapted albino, flotilla, hacienda, mesa, plaza, siesta, adapted barbecue, caramel, cockroach, corvette, doubloon, escapade, guitar, jade, lime, maroon, picaresque, quadroon. Some Spanish loans have Arabic origins, such as alfalfa (Arabic al-fasfasah), alcazar (Arabic al-qasr the castle), alcove (through French alcôve, from Spanish alcoba, from Arabic al-qubbah the vault).

A wave of New World BORROWINGS occurred in the 19c, mainly in the Southwest of the US, such as the unadapted arroyo, bronco, cantina, corral, gringo, mesa, patio, rodeo, tequila, and the adapted alligator, buckaroo, chaps, lariat, mustang, ranch. Many items borrowed from Spanish were through Spanish from indigenous Amerindian languages, such as avocado, chocolate, coyote, peyote, from the Aztec language Nahuatl. In the 20c, there has been a second wave throughout the US, related to the increase in Latin American immigration; loans include contras, guerrilla, jefe, macho/machismo, as well as such culinary terms as burrito, chiles rellenos, flautas, frijoles, frijoles refritos, nacho, pan dulce, salsa, taco, tortilla.

English in Spanish

In recent decades, English has had a greater influence on Spanish than vice versa. This has happened wherever Spanish is spoken, but is particularly noticeable where Spanish- and English-speaking communities live as neighbours (such as along the US–Mexican border) and where communities of speakers of one language have migrated to the territory of another (such as Puerto Ricans in New York City: British expatriate communities and facilities for holiday-makers along the Mediterranean littoral of Spain). Close contact between the two languages has produced hybrid forms, for which casual names have arisen: SPANGLISH, a term covering all forms of English influenced by Spanish and Spanish influenced by English, and the more particular TEX-MEX or Border Lingo along the Texas–Mexican border.

In general, the influence is lexical, especially in the borrowing and adaptation of technical and sporting terms. Many of these borrowings are accepted only grudgingly or until more Hispanicized equivalents are coined. Not all are current in all dialects, but are clearly favoured in contact dialects. Some expressions are borrowings, either unadapted or adapted, while others are Anglicisms in a more general sense: loan shifts resulting from English influence in the usage of traditional Spanish words, often cognates of English Romance-derived words. Examples of borrowings are: (in sport) boxeo boxing, boxear to box, nocaut a knockout, noquear to knock out, jonrón a home run, jonronear to make a home run, fútbol, criquet, basquetbol; (culinary) cake/queque a cake, pangqueques pancakes, (miel)maple maple syrup, bistec a beefsteak, cóctel a cocktail, hamburguesa, a hamburger; (in politics) agenda, boicot a boycott, boicotear to boycott, cartel, detective; (in general usage) bus, camuflaje, esmoking a dinner jacket, tuxedo, esnob a snob, esnobismo snobbery, jazz, jet, microchip, parquear to park, troca a truck.

Loan shifts and translations may compete with established usages: the verbs rentar with alquilar (to rent) and clarificar with aclarar (to clarify); the nouns elevador with acensor a lift, elevator; profesional with profesionista a professional. They may also provide a new sense for a traditional word: carácter, in the theatre as opposed to personaje; conductor, of music as opposed to director; década for ten years as opposed to ten of anything; educación for schooling as opposed to manners. Sometimes they are entirely new: perro caliente a hot dog, escuela alta high school. Others, such as filmoteca a library of films, are loan blends.


Spanish Language

views updated May 17 2018


SPANISH LANGUAGE first came to the territory now occupied by the United States as the language of the explorers and settlers who set out from Spain's Caribbean outposts and from New Spain (Mexico) in the early sixteenth century. From that time until Mexico's independence in 1821, the Spanish crown established and maintained settlements from Florida to California. This region, covering approximately the southern third of the North American continent exclusive of modern-day Mexico, received the apposite designation of the "Spanish borderlands" from twentieth-century historians. The easternmost portion of the Spanish borderlands was known as "La Florida" and included the entire southeast quadrant of the present United States, from South Carolina to Mississippi. "New Mexico" extended from Texas to Arizona, while the West Coast was christened "California," after a fabulous island that appears in an early sixteenth-century romance of chivalry. In the last years of the seventeenth century, French explorers claimed the full extent of the Mississippi watershed for Louis XIV, naming it accordingly Louisiana.

In the seventeenth century, English colonists drove the Spanish out of all of La Florida except for the peninsula that now bears the name of that once vast region. It remained in Spanish hands until its purchase by the United States in 1820, if one discounts the British occupation from 1763 to 1783. When the French lost Canada

in 1762, Louisiana was ceded to Spain; Napoleon claimed it back in 1800, only to sell it to the United States in 1803. New Mexico (that is, the present states of New Mexico and Arizona), Texas, and California became part of the Mexican republic that achieved independence in 1821. Texas gained its independence from Mexico in 1836, and in the Mexican-American War (1846–1848), the rest of New Mexico and California was occupied by the United States.

The Spanish borderlands left an immense linguistic legacy. The most immediate and obvious remnants are the thousands of place-names of Spanish origin that pepper maps from Florida to California. American English absorbed large numbers of loanwords from Spanish as the United States extended its sway over Spanish-speaking territories. The Amerindian languages, especially of the Southwest (from Texas to California), incorporated hundreds of Spanish vocabulary items into their languages. An incalculable number of documents in archives from Florida to California (to say nothing of Mexican and Spanish archives containing material relevant to the Spanish borderlands) attest to the use of Spanish not only in its official bureaucratic form but often in ways that reflect many traits of colloquial speech. Finally, and most important, is the survival of Spanish-speaking communities in New Mexico and Louisiana, whose uninterrupted existence from colonial times to the present provides a fascinating example of persistence in the face of overwhelming demographic pressure from speakers of English.

The Spanish spoken in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado constitutes a direct survival of the colonial and Mexican periods of the Southwest. It is also by far the most thoroughly studied variety of U.S. Spanish; in fact, the publication of Aurelio M. Espinosa's Estudios sobre el español de Nuevo Méjico (1930–1946) placed New Mexican Spanish in the forefront of the study of American Spanish in general. The Spanish of the isleños (islanders) of Louisiana, so named for their having originally emigrated from the Canary Islands, involves a much smaller and less studied linguistic community. Both communities are characterized by a rich folkloric tradition, involving both prose and verse, and in the case of New Mexico, theater as well. This is an oral literature that reflects local patterns of speech and is consequently of great value for linguistic analysis.

However impressive the linguistic legacy of the Spanish borderlands might be, it is rather in the twentieth century that the Spanish language became such an integral part of the national scene. Major currents of immigration followed close upon historical events. The Spanish- American War in 1898 brought Puerto Rico into its special relationship with the United States and opened the doors for the establishment of Puerto Rican communities, principally in New York City, but eventually in many other parts of the country. The Mexican revolution that began in 1910 had the effect of driving many refugees north of the border, but the principal magnet for immigration was the economic opportunities offered by U.S. agriculture and industry. Mexican communities all over the Southwest were strengthened by immigration from Mexico, but many immigrants settled in other parts of the country; for instance, Chicago became home to an especially numerous and active community. World War II destroyed many Sephardic Jewish communities in the Balkans; the survivors immigrated en masse to the New World, including the United States. The Cuban revolution of 1959 provoked yet another diaspora, the principal center of which is Miami. The civil wars of Central America in the 1970s and 1980s brought many Guatemalans, Nicaraguans, and Salvadoreans to the United States. Over and above such catastrophic displacements there has been a steady immigration from all Spanish-speaking countries. Spanish is by far the largest non-English language spoken in the United States; indeed, with perhaps 30 million Spanish speakers, the United States counts as one of the largest Spanish-speaking countries after Mexico and Spain.

In studying the numerous varieties of U.S. Spanish, the predominant theme of linguistic research has been to measure the impact of English on immigrant Spanish. English affects the sound system(phonology) and word forms (morphology) in very limited ways, while the influence on vocabulary (lexicon) and phrase and sentence construction (syntax) tends to be notable. Bilingual speakers among themselves often use both languages in the same discourse, a phenomenon labeled "code-switching" in the linguistic literature. The manner in which the rapid transitions from one language to the other are achieved possesses considerable importance for general linguistics. Another favorite subject is the argot or jargon traditionally known as pachuco (caló is now the preferred designation), an in-group parlance cultivated primarily by young Hispanic males in the Southwest, which is incomprehensible to outsiders. Caló involves a massive and systematic substitution of specialized words, often of exotic provenance, for their common equivalents in the standard language.

The Hispanic tradition has enriched American English literature in two ways: first, throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, numerous American writers have shown a special fascination with the Hispanic world in general, and the Spanish borderlands in particular. Their works have helped to propagate large numbers of Spanish loanwords into American English. In the second half of the twentieth century, significant contributions to American English literature have been made by authors of Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Mexican descent. Their works often contain considerable numbers of Spanish words and phrases that their readers are presumed to know and no doubt penetrate into the language of mono-lingual English speakers.

The Hispanic presence in the United States shows every sign of continuing the steady growth characteristic of the twentieth century. The already great importance of the Spanish language in the national life of the United States will accordingly be enhanced with each passing decade.


De Marco, Barbara, and Jerry R. Craddock, eds. Documenting the Colonial Experience, with Special Regard to Spanish in the American Southwest. Special Issue, Parts 1–2 of Romance Philology 53 (1999–2000).

Kanellos, Nicolás, and Claudio Esteva-Fabregat, eds. Handbook of Hispanic Cultures in the United States. 4 vols. Houston, Tex.: Arte Público Press, 1993–1994.

Roca, Ana, ed. Research on Spanish in the United States: Linguistic Issues and Challenges. Somerville, Mass.: Cascadilla, 2000.

Rodríguez González, Félix, ed. Spanish Loanwords in the English Language: A Tendency Towards Hegemony Reversal. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1996.

Rudin, Ernst. Tender Accents of Sound: Spanish in the Chicano Novel in English. Tempe, Ariz.: Bilingual Press, 1996.

Teschner, Richard V., Garland D. Bills, and Jerry R. Craddock, eds. Spanish and English of United States Hispanos: A Critical, Annotated, Linguistic Bibliography. Arlington, Va.: Center for Applied Linguistics, 1975.

Wiegle, Marta, and Peter White. The Lore of New Mexico. Publications of the American Folklore Society, New Series. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1988.

Jerry R.Craddock

See alsoBilingual Education ; Cuban Americans ; Hispanic Americans ; Mexican Americans ; Puerto Ricans in the United States .


views updated May 29 2018

Spanish of, pertaining to, or associated with Spain.
Spanish flu influenza caused by an influenza virus of type A, in particular that of the pandemic which began in 1918.
Spanish Inquisition an ecclesiastical court established in 1478 and directed originally against converts from Judaism and Islam but later also against Protestants. It operated with great severity, especially under its first inquisitor, Torquemada, and was not suppressed until the early 19th century. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition is a catchphrase from a Monty Python script, in which the Inquisitors consistently fail to make a successful announcement of their arrival and identity.
Spanish Main the former name for the NW coast of South America between the Orinoco River and Panama, and adjoining parts of the Caribbean Sea.
Spanish practice another term for old Spanish custom.
War of the Spanish Succession a European war (1701–14), provoked by the death of the Spanish king Charles II without issue. The Grand Alliance of Britain, the Netherlands, and the Holy Roman emperor threw back a French invasion of the Low Countries, and, although the Peace of Utrecht confirmed the accession of a Bourbon king in Spain, prevented Spain and France from being united under one crown.


views updated May 14 2018

Spanish Major world language, spoken as an official language in Spain, South America (except Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, and Surinam), all of Central America, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. It is also spoken in a number of other countries, notably the USA and former Spanish dependencies such as the Philippines. Spanish is a member of the Romance group of Indo-European languages but its vocabulary contains a large number of words of Arabic origin, the result of Moorish domination of Spain for many centuries. There are more than 200 million Spanish speakers worldwide.


views updated May 21 2018

Span·ish / ˈspanish/ • adj. of or relating to Spain, its people, or its language.• n. 1. [as pl. n.] (the Spanish) the people of Spain.2. the Romance language of most of Spain and of much of Central and South America and several other countries.DERIVATIVES: Span·ish·ness n.

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