Birthplace of the spanish language: History of the Spanish language | San Millán de la Cogolla

The History of the Spanish Language

As anything that’s been around for 1,500+ years does, the Spanish language has a rich and complicated history. It has navigated the rise and fall of great empires, has been a symbol of cultural identity, and has both been used as a tool of unity and caused considerable divisiveness. Today, it is the world’s second-most spoken native language and is used by people in all corners of the globe to express themselves. This fact makes Spanish a popular choice to learn, as native speakers are never too far away!

Origins in Latin

Spanish originated in the Iberian Peninsula as a dialect of spoken Latin, which is today called “Vulgar Latin,” as opposed to the Classical Latin used in literature. The dialect of Spanish that we consider dominant in Europe is called Castellano or Castilian Spanish.

During the Roman Empire, the Latin language was the official language on the peninsula (called “Hispania”), but it mixed with the local languages of the inhabitants, including Celts and Iberians, and began to take on its own unique flavor.

The germination of this uniqueness was accelerated by the Visigoths, a Germanic group that conquered areas of the peninsula in the 4th century during the demise of the Roman Empire. The Visigoths spoke Latin at this time, and rather than a Germanic influence on the language, their main influence was of cultural depression on the peninsula, causing the form of Vulgar Latin spoken to develop in isolation in the 5th century. This is where historians and linguists pinpoint the beginnings of the Spanish language as we know it today.

Following the Visigoths, Muslim Moorish conquerors arrived and contributed more than 4,000 Spanish words from Arabic, along with cultural influences still evident in the design, art, and architecture of Spain. Adopted words from Arabic lost their original pronunciation, however, so the overall sounds or phonology of Spanish was surprisingly not heavily influenced by Arabic.


The Reconquista period (between 711 and 1492) refers to the slow reconquering of present-day Spain from the Moors by the Kingdom of Castile (with the help of other allied kingdoms). Castilian Spanish was further popularized by the narrative poems spread orally about Castilian heroes in battle. These were recited even in areas that did not speak this dialect (people were short on entertainment back then).

In the 13th century, King Alfonso X of Castile, known as Alfonso el Sabio (Alfonso the Wise), assembled scribes in his courts of Toledo to document various subjects such as astronomy, law, and history, including translation of classical literature into Spanish. You could say that King Alfonso X was wise to the fact that written language was all the rage, and that commissioning works to be written in his native Castilian before a similar effort was undertaken somewhere else would ensure his language (and therefore influence… and therefore power) would remain prominent. This was a genius marketing move for Castilian Spanish. This solid basis of written Castilian Spanish facilitated the spread of the language during the Reconquista.

The next monarchs of the Kingdom of Castile, Isabella and Ferdinand, were extremely influential in the course of the history of Spanish. Isabella was the queen of Castile and Ferdinand was the King of Aragon. Both kingdoms didn’t become one right away, but “it is generally accepted by most scholars that the unification of Spain can essentially be traced back to the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella.” Under their rule, the Castilian variety of Spanish was made the official language of all the “re-conquered” territories. They supported Antonio de Nebrija’s publication of Arte de la Lengua Castellana (The Art of the Castilian Language), the first attempt to define the grammar of a European language. Their imperial efforts also imposed Spanish on the natives of their American colonies.

Royal Spanish Academy

The Royal Spanish Academy, or Real Academia Española, was founded in 1713, mainly with the purpose of standardizing the language. For example, it did future Spanish learners a big favor by standardizing the use of accents to denote syllabic stress that does not follow the pronunciation rules (see Spanish pronunciation).

Between 1726–1739 it produced its first dictionary (in six volumes). It’s still the authoritative source on Castilian Spanish today, reporting an estimated 93,000 words in its latest edition (2014). Because the language differs so much internationally, other Spanish-speaking countries have their own academies to keep tabs on their regional features.

Regional Languages of Spain

The original uploader was Alexandre Vigo at Galician Wikipedia.

Present-day Spain is home to several regional languages: Castilian (spoken by 99% of the population), Catalan (spoken by 19% of the population), Galician (spoken by 5% of the population), and Basque (spoken by 2% of the population). In some cases, these languages are not mutually intelligible for speakers, meaning that they can’t understand each other without some difficulty. For example, the Basque language did not originate from the same language family as Spanish, and so it cannot be considered a dialect of Spanish. Today, Spaniards use Castilian Spanish as their lingua franca, but they use their regional language in their everyday lives and, in some cases, in schools and business.

During the Second World War, the dictator Francisco Franco declared Castilian Spanish Spain’s only official language, prohibiting the use of other regional languages in many areas. As you might imagine, this caused turmoil in regions which identified more strongly with their regional heritage and local language than with the growing Spanish nationalistic fervor. The regime referred to these other languages as “dialects” of Spanish in a derogatory way – claiming that they were inferior and lacking, and therefore unfit for official use. The concept of “dialect” itself is very controversial and often has as much to do with historical and political implications as it does with linguistic tenets. As the old adage states: “A language is a dialect with an army and a navy.” In this case, the reference to the regional languages of Spain as “dialects” had a strong nationalistic (unifying) motivation. Foreign films were dubbed into Castilian or forced to be reissued in Castilian if originally filmed in a regional language. Non-Castilian names were even banned for newborns in 1938.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Spanish parliament agreed to allow regions to print official documents in their regional languages, and today the use of local languages is no longer illegal. There is no doubt, though, that this historical period influenced the spread and status of Castilian Spanish. This recent cultural stifling still informs the identities of many people living in these regions in Spain. Visitors to Spain may notice a strong allegiance to regional identity and pride in local heritage as a consequence of this historical tension.

Spanish in the Americas

Latin America

Spanish colonization brought the language to the Americas beginning in 1492. Today, “Latin America” refers to countries that were subject to Spanish, French, and Portuguese imperialism and therefore still speak a Latin-based language. As a result of Spanish colonialism in Latin America and a few other areas of the globe, Spanish is the official language of 20 countries today (plus one territory: Puerto Rico) and is spoken by 400 million native speakers worldwide. Spanish colonies fought for their independence from Spain throughout the 18th century but maintained Spanish as their official language. Many of these new Latin American governments encouraged use of Spanish by the Amerindian majority to promote national unity following independence.

United States

The first European settlement in the present-day United States was actually established by Spain in what is now Florida. Spanish was the historical language of many current US states while controlled by the Spanish or Mexican governments. The gradual annexation of southwestern states changed the official language to English, but Spanish is still spoken by large portions of the populations in these areas today.

Researcher Rosino Lozano, author of An American Language: The History of Spanish in the United States, discusses how the transition from Spanish as an official language of territories in the American southwest stirred political tumult with the insinuation by many in power that these new territories couldn’t be both Spanish-speaking and American. Language rights are still a complicated issue in the United States and continue to be a subject of debate. Although English is the only official language of the United States, government documents are still provided in Spanish in several states, such as in New Mexico and California. Spanish is also the most widely taught second language in the United States. In the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Spanish retains its status as the official language.

Old Spanish versus Modern Spanish

It may surprise you to know that Shakespeare’s English was considered Modern English – that’s how much a language can change over the years! Unlike Old English or Middle English, Old Spanish is relatively easy for a Modern Spanish (from the 16th century on) speaker to interpret. The possibility to read original medieval artifacts and ancient texts is a rare opportunity for language learners, which is usually complex even for native speakers.

For many, Spanish is the language of love. You can find it as a common topic in music, books or movies. A classic book, considered the first modern novel in Spanish, is The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, a story full of adventure and love. You can find here a blog post that can help you read and understand Don Quixote in Spanish.

Looking to improve your Spanish? Lingvist is the fastest way to learn Spanish vocabulary and Lingvist’s Spanish course has more than 5,000 words!

The Cradle of Spanish – Language Magazine

Daniel Ward visits the birthplace of the Spanish language

Castilla y León is not only the largest autonomous region of Spain, but also the birthplace of Castellano or Castilian Spanish which is now spoken by more than 500 million people worldwide. The language evolved from dialects of Latin spoken in the area after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century. It was first documented in central-northern Iberia in the ninth century and gradually spread south with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile deeper into the Iberian peninsula. With Spanish colonizations from the early 16th century, the language of Castilla spread to the Americas, Asia, and Africa.

The area is awash with medieval history, which is still evident in many cathedrals, monasteries, castles, and fortified towns, many of which are preserved perfectly. The region has beautiful landscapes with forests and lakes, but it is known for its historic cities, particularly Salamanca and Valladolid, although Burgos, Segovia, Ávila, Soria, León, Palencia, and Zamora are also destinations in their own right.

A small city of about 160,000 inhabitants, Salamanca’s great historical importance is due to its university, one of the oldest of Europe, its outstanding beauty, and its rich cultural heritage. History seeps out of its streets and buildings, but it’s balanced by the youth and diversity of its students, who make up about a quarter of its population.

The city’s historic center has important Romanesque, Gothic, Moorish, Renaissance, and baroque monuments. The Plaza Mayor, with its galleries and arcades, is particularly impressive. Visitors could spend weeks marveling at the architecture but they should also leave time to savor the city’s wonderful restaurants, mesóns, and bars, which heave with students and locals enjoying some of the best tapas in the world.

Colegio Delibes
Recognized by the Instituto Cervantes and situated in a historic building five minutes’ walk from the Plaza Mayor, Colegio Delibes has been recently restored and equipped with the latest technology. The school features 20 air-conditioned classrooms, a video and conference room, an audio lab, a library, and an IT room with free internet and wireless access. There is also an enclosed patio with a Castilian well where students can relax with coffee and socialize during breaks.

The school has an authentic international ambience (3000 students from 55 different nationalities during last year) and a complete program of extracurricular activities, most of which are free of charge. Accommodations vary between host families, student residences, shared apartments, studios, and hotels. It is known for its intensive, wide-ranging courses (at least 14 choices), small class sizes, ten different levels of learning, and personalized attention.

Since 1997, Colegio Delibes has offered summer programs for students with the possibility to obtain university credit.

Since 1990, ISLA has helped over 35,000 students go from strength to strength in their Spanish, as well as giving them a home from home in beautiful Salamanca.

ISLA is a community as well as a school, and it’s made up of the ISLA team — teachers, administrators, guides dedicated to keeping the school humming with happy students, and the students: adult learners, teenagers, gap-year travelers and university students — all looking for a boost. Perpetual polyglots, they’ve ventured from all corners of the globe.

The school is located on the lovely Plaza de los Basilios, occupying a tranquil spot opposite a park with tall, old trees and the San Esteban convent. The building is crafted in the province’s distinctive golden Villamayor stone and is fully refurbished inside with glass and chrome. The feel throughout the school is bright, light, and welcoming, taking inspiration from the eye-catching Havana color palate of blues and purples in ISLA’s logo.
Courses range from four to six hours daily leaving time for extra curricular activities like city tours, day trips, dance lessons, cooking, and enjoying tapas. Welcome parties, weekly culinary surprises, excursions, Dieter’s Drive, paella, and potluck dinners round off the highlights of the ISLA experience.

Every year, more than 4,000 students from more than 40 different countries visit Mester, which has been running courses in Salamanca for more than 20 years.

The school’s promise to all students is to make sure that every course is stimulating, up to date, and above all, effective. In order to keep this promise, it’s put together a team of highly qualified and committed teachers, and modern teaching materials, aiming to create an education center which not only has regular classrooms but also real meeting points for students to exchange experiences and knowledge.

Aside from the standard Spanish programs, Mester offers a huge variety of specific courses, including medical Spanish, business Spanish, literature, tourism, journalism, restaurant management, as well as complete flexibility in the organization of study abroad programs, which includes a wide range of socio-cultural activities, transfers, medical insurance, and guides. Of particular note are its advanced programs for teachers of Spanish as a foreign language (E/LE).

Tía Tula
Accredited by the Instituto Cervantes as a school of high quality, Tía Tula is a lovely Spanish school with two centers both situated right in the historical university center of Salamanca. Just like Salamanca, Tía Tula combines its classical framework and facilities with the modernity of its people and their methods. Inside are pretty, comfortable, and pleasant classrooms with views of the monumental zone of the city.

The school offers an impressive academic program delivered by highly qualified and experienced teachers who also specialize in teacher training. It also has an efficient administration and management team that ensures, among other things, high-quality accommodation and a wide range of extracurricular activities to complement the lessons and and allow students to live the Spanish language in the magical streets of Salamanca — all with a warm, human, and personalized treatment.

Both teachers and administrative staff do their best to make sure students can make the most of their Spanish programs and have an unforgettable, complete linguistic-immersion experience in Salamanca and in Spain.

The capital of Castilla y León, Valladolid is the sixth-largest city in Spain and less than an hour by high-speed train from Madrid, but it still operates on a siesta schedule with long lunches and a pure Castilian lifestyle. It was home to Miguel de Cervantes when he wrote Don Quixote and of Christopher Columbus until his death. It was also the birthplace of Queen Isabel la Católica and the site where the Portuguese and Spanish met to divide the new world into two empires.

It has one of the most important sculpture museums in Spain, and its famous Easter-week processions attract thousands of spectators. The city is historic, traditional but friendly, making it an inviting destination for students.

La Casa del Español
While offering its students quality Spanish teaching, La Casa del Español understands that this language education must be combined with a true cultural contact with Valladolid. In order to facilitate this, the school strives to offer access to all that makes the city unique: its people, open and hospitable; its important historic and literary heritage; its gastronomy and wines; and its dynamic cultural life.

Accredited by the Instituto Cervantes, it offers qualified teachers and helpful staff, interesting cultural activities, cooking workshops in its own kitchen, a multicultural environment, and easy access to heritage cities.

The mission of La Casa del Español thus blends the two concepts of language and cultural experience, with a personal and caring group of professionals working toward this.

Language Magazine editor Daniel Ward traveled to Castilla y León in November 2014 to organize programs for the magazine’s local Topanga Spanish School and can’t wait to return with a group of American students.

Spanish dialects

When you think about variants of the same language, only the differences between British and American English come to mind, but when you think of Spanish, the picture of accents and variants is even more varied.

Even within Spain itself there are many dialects (besides the four official languages!). The ability to understand by ear not only those who speak “classical” Spanish, but also speakers of various dialects is an important step on the way from the Intermedio level to the Superior level. Let’s take a look at the most common Spanish accents today and find out how many dialects there are in Spanish.

  • Castilian Spanish

The birthplace of castellano , or Castilian Spanish, is the region of Castile and León in northwestern Spain. It is the Castilian variant that we mean when we talk about the Spanish language in general, it is recognized as a literary norm, it is this language that is studied in schools and universities around the world.

Its main feature is that Castilian uses the form vosotros , an informal form of 2 lit. plural, which is used when referring to a group of people who are familiar to you or who are the same age as you. This form is used when talking with friends, while form ustedes remains a form of politeness when dealing with older or more respected interlocutors. ¿Cómo estáis? is an example of form vosotros . ¿Cómo están ustedes? is the polite form of ustedes . Residents of South American countries do not meet with such differences, since these forms are characteristic only for “Spanish” Spanish.

Castilian is also distinguished by special grammatical constructions, such as the form Pretérito Imperfecto de Subjuntivo. This form of the verb is used when talking about a hypothetical event in the past. In most countries, this form uses the ending -ra , but in Castilian it would be -se . Llegara is the past subjunctive form of the verb llegar in Latin America, while in Spain it would be llegase . Espero que llegaras ayer “I hope you arrived yesterday” is an example of this form. This tense is used when there is a high degree of uncertainty, in uncertain situations, especially when emotions or doubts are involved. Many Spanish learners will want to say * Espero que llegaste ayer , but this is grammatically incorrect.

Another characteristic feature of Castilian is the so-called leísmo , that is, the use of le as a pronoun that replaces the direct object expressed by an animate masculine noun. This is a violation of the grammatical rule requiring the direct object to be lo/la and the indirect object le , but it is so ubiquitous that it is no longer perceived as a mistake. So, grammatically correct A Paolo no lo vi ayer becomes A Paolo no le vi ayer .

Of course, there are many words in Castilian that do not occur in other dialects or mean something different in them. Here is a short list of words that you will hear only in the Iberian Peninsula, and their Latin American equivalents:

coche – carro / auto (car)
conducir – manejar (drive a car)
gafas – anteojos (glasses)
piso-apartamento (apartment)
patata – papa (potato)
móvil -cellular (mobile phone)
zumo – jugo (juice)

Castilian is also famous for its phonetic features. Many people call this accent lisping, because if the letters z , ci or ce occur in a word, they give an interdental sound reminiscent of English [θ]. This phenomenon is called ceceo and it is because of it that Barcelona and Zaragoza sounds so strange in its “true” pronunciation.

    9000 “pesao”, he acabado – like “he acabao”, quieres – like “quies”).

    • Spanish in Mexico

    This variety of Spanish is easy to hear in California. The main influences on this Spanish are Uto-Aztecan Nahuatl, Mayan Tzotzil, and American English.

    The influence of Indian languages ​​is so great that dictionaries of “Mexicanisms” are published, translating the Mexican names of everyday objects into common Spanish. Many words came to Spanish from Nahuatl: tomate (from xitōmatl), chocolate (from xocolātl), aguacate (from āhuacatl), coyote (from coyotl), México (from mexihco) and Guatemala (from cuauhtēmallan).

    Borrowings from American English are also striking: for Mexicans, the computer is computadora , not ordenador , and “rent” for them is rentar , not alquilar .

    • Rioplatian Spanish

    0008 el español rioplatense – in honor of the La Plata River ( Río de la Plata ) and the La Plata Lowland, on whose territory these countries are located.

    At the end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th centuries. both countries experienced massive immigration from Southern Italy, and the dialect has changed greatly under the influence of Neapolitan Italian. This is evident even in everyday trifles: when parting, Argentines hardly use the traditional Spanish hasta luego , but instead say chau is a modified Italian ciao . Interestingly, the Italians also settled in Brazil, so the Brazilians, saying goodbye, also say tchau .

    The brightest feature of Argentine Spanish is the so-called voseo , voseo, a grammatical feature in which the personal pronoun is 2 lit. units h. vos is used instead of the informal pronoun and the polite respectful pronoun Usted . The same phenomenon has taken root in Spanish in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Honduras.

    Voseo influences the conjugation of verbs, somewhat simplifying it. For example, the alternation of vowels in the root of the verb disappears:

    hablar (to speak): tú hablas/vos hablás (you speak)
    sentir (to feel): tú sientes/vos06 sentís

    (you feel

    ) 008 poder (to be able, to be able): tú puedes/vos podés (you can)
    querer (to want): tú quieres/vos querés (you want)

    the letter 9 is subtracted0008 –r , and the acute is placed over the final vowel.

    beber – bebé (drink)
    bailar – bailá (dance)
    vivir – viví (live)
    hacer – hacé (do) exist 0008 ir–andá ( go)

    Finally, a little about the quirks of Argentine phonetics: y and ll in the phrase so yo me llamo in the Rioplat version are read as [ʃ]. But no interdental sounds!

    • Spanish in northern Latin America

    Refers to the varieties of Spanish spoken in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia. These dialects are usually easy to understand, and the Colombian accent is generally considered “the most neutral version of Spanish.” This is because in these countries it is customary to speak a little slower and not shorten words. As in the case of Mexico, Peru and Bolivia still have a high percentage of the indigenous population, so the Quechua and Aymara Indian languages ​​not only have the status of official languages, but also have a noticeable influence on local Spanish. Name of a traditional woolen Andean hat chullo comes from ch’ullu from Quechua.

    In this region, especially in Colombia, y and ll are pronounced soft [j].

    • Spanish in Central America

    Central America includes Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Proximity decides a lot here: Spanish in Guatemala is in many ways similar to Mexican Spanish, and Panamanian Spanish has many parallels with Spanish in Colombia.

    A distinctive feature is voseo, similar to the Argentinean accent.

    Features of Spanish in Costa Rica can be described in one phrase – pura vida . It could be both a national idea and an answer to the standard question ¿Como estás?

    • Spanish in the Caribbean

    Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic have their own dialects of Spanish that can be identified as Caribbean Spanish.

    If you still think Spaniards speak too fast, hold on to your wig – in the Caribbean, Spanish is so fast it will blow you away. To speak faster, even faster, the sound [d] at the end of a word in speech disappears, so mitad sounds the same as mita . The preposition para is shortened to pa’ . The letter s not only disappears at the beginning and end of words, but is often “swallowed” in their middle, so estoy aquí en la estación sounds more like “ehtoy aquí en la ehtació”.

    Puerto Rico has a special status because it is not really a country, but a territory under the control of the United States – it is logical that Spanish there has changed significantly after English. For example, Puerto Ricans emphasize the final [r] in words, pronouncing both [r] clearly in matar , which is reminiscent of a rotated American accent. Moreover, the letter r is read differently depending on the place in the word: if it is at the end of a syllable before a consonant, it is read as [l], that is, Puerto Rico becomes “Puelto Rico”.

    Spanish in the Dominican Republic reflects the influence of the local tribes of the Taino Indians (it was from the Taino language that the words maracas and hamaca came from the Taino language), and slaves brought here in the 16th century from the west coast of Africa. The latter is noticeable, for example, in the fact that Dominicans use pronouns similar to the language of the Igbo people in southeastern Nigeria: instead of ¿Cómo estás tú? they will ask rather ¿Cómo tú ta? In interrogative sentences, the pronoun is often placed before the verb (it is also abbreviated), while in “standard” Spanish there is an inversion: ¿Adónde tú vas? in the Dominican Republic, ¿Adónde vas tú? in Spain.

    • Spanish in Chile

    In terms of uniqueness and complexity, the Chilean dialect is not inferior to the Caribbean. The main phonetic feature is that in Chile the combination ch is pronounced as [ʃ], because Chile sounds like “Shi-lé”. If there is a vowel at the end of the word, followed by combinations do or da , the sound [d] is omitted: fundido and fracasado will sound like “fundío”, “fracasáo”. If a word ends in -a and is followed by a word beginning in d-, the [d] sound is omitted again: ¿Dónde está la biblioteca? becomes ‘onde esta la biblioteca’ and persona del espacio becomes ‘persona ‘e espacio’.

    Also para el + n. m.r. abbreviated to pa’l and para la + n. zh.r. – up to pá la . Because of the abbreviations and “thrown out” syllables, Chileans are not easy to understand for someone who is used to the Castilian variant.

    Accents are an inexhaustible topic: they allow you to guess from just a few words or phrases where a person who speaks Spanish comes from. As you can see, each version of Spanish is fraught with many subtleties and special features, which can be fully studied only if you spend at least a little time in a particular country. Or if you find yourself a Spanish teacher from the country whose accent seems to you the most euphonious!

    11 words to help you understand Spanish culture • Arzamas

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    I’m lucky!


    Why do Spaniards eat dinner so late? Why do adults live in communal apartments? What is Spanishness and why does this concept cause mixed feelings? We answer these and other questions in the new issue of the cycle “Words of Cultures”

    Author Vera Polilova

    1. Movida

    Dvizhuha, party, and also with location indication a designation for the socio-cultural urban movements of post-Franco Spain, when the nocturnal and alternative artistic life flourished

    The Meadow of San Isidro. Painting by Francisco Goya. 1788 Museo Nacional del Prado

    Word movida is derived from the verb mover (“to move”) and can be translated into Russian as “movement”, “bustle”, “mess”, “drive”, “party”. The most accurate in form and meaning, but not in style, Russian correspondence is “movement”.

    Spain in the second half of the 1970s – early 1980s experienced the era of Transition (La Transición, 1975-1982), that is, the transition from the dictatorship of Francisco Franco to parliamentary democracy. Rapid political changes were accompanied by rapid changes in all spheres of cultural life and the flourishing of subcultures. Word movida quickly gained popularity in Spanish slang and came to refer to the totality of the phenomena of the new street nightlife with its clubs, disco bars and discos, pop, rock and punk music, drugs, alternative fashion and cinema. Today, Madrid’s movida, La Movida madrileña , is a household name for the golden era of the Spanish capital’s counterculture. However, similar processes along with democratic transformations were going on in other cities – La Movida viguesa (“Movida in Vigo”), La Movida manchega , (“La Manche movida”), etc. because it captures the main feature of the Spanish nighttime pastime, constant movement: from the cinema to the bar, from the bar to the club, then to the disco – and so on in a circle until the morning.

    2. Salir

    Go somewhere in the evening, go out

    Night butterflies. Painting by Carlos Verger Fioretti. 1920 Museo de Zamora

    The idea of ​​movida is closely related to the verb salir . This is a basic Spanish verb meaning “to go out”, but in everyday colloquial speech it is constantly used in the special meaning of “walking, hanging out, carousing, seeing friends in the evening, going to different places.” Salir does not mean any walk or meeting, its use implies that typical Spanish evening leisure, which is captured by the word movida . The vast majority of young Spaniards aged 16-25 regularly participate in evening and “moving” night parties that last an average of 11 hours. Meet around 7 pm in one of the bars with friends and come home at 5-6 am is a common thing. Students salen (“hang out, walk”) on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Friday or Saturday without going out – a special topic for memes and jokes ( otro viernes sin salir , sábado sin salir , etc. ) with connotations of unbearable sadness.

    In addition to the verb salir , the vocabulary of Spanish movida needs to include a dozen more expressions used to describe street festivities and parties. In particular, you can specifically indicate what exactly they are going to drink: salir / ir de copas means “go to drink wine” ( sora – “glass”), salir / ir de cañas – “go to drink beer” ( caña – “mug”). Or what they are going to eat: ir de tapas / ir de pinchos – “go eat tapas or pinchos” ( tapas , pinchos – special snacks).

    In recent decades, due to the economic downturn, many young people cannot afford to go to bars, as their parents did, and gatherings in parks and squares where drinks from the supermarket have become a popular alternative. Such parties also have a special name – botellón (from botella , “bottle”, with an magnifying suffix -ón ).

    The decline in income and the development of the Internet, social networks and instant messengers led to other changes in the traditions of salir that developed in the 1980s. If in 1999 66% of young Spaniards hung out every weekend, then in recent years only about 20%, while only 3.5% of young people have never spent the night in this way, and today – 23%. Despite the fact that Spaniards drink alcohol while walking in the evenings and at night, it is not customary to get drunk. The goal is a fiesta, a holiday, the joy of communication. Italians have verb uscire (“going out”) has the same connotations and usage as Spanish salir , so we can say that we are dealing with a common southern European trait, but in Spain the culture of night festivities has taken on a special dimension.

    3. Fiesta mayor

    Big celebration, many days street festival, usually in honor of the patron saint

    Vision of Spain: Castilla. Fragment of a painting by Joaquin Soroya. 1913 Hispanic Society of America

    To appreciate the ability of Spaniards, Catalans, Galicians and other peoples of the Iberian Peninsula to have fun, you should at least once in your life see the Fiesta Major or Fiesta Patronal ( fiesta patronal , “feast of the patron saint”) with your own eyes. In Spain, there is a centuries-old tradition of festivities in honor of the holy patrons of heaven: today they have almost completely lost their religious content (although they include Christian processions), but retain great social significance for local communities. Some of these big holidays-festivals have become world famous and attract tourists from all over the world (Tomatina, Tamborrada, San Fermin, described by Hemingway, etc.), however, most of them are held locally and are popular with the townspeople themselves and residents of nearby villages and towns . Each big holiday has its own traditions: it can be special processions, fairs, special game themed carnivals (for example, the symbolic battle of the Moors and Christians), dances and concerts with free treats and drinks. Fiesta Mayor often includes the most incredible events, in which hundreds and thousands of people take part: here and running with lights (torches, firecrackers and fireworks), and collective pouring of red wine, and the simultaneous opening of hundreds of bottles of sparkling wine – cava.

    4. Tertulia

    In the past, regular meetings of a permanent circle of people in a certain cafe for conversations and discussions; today is a discussion (usually political) television or radio show

    Caballero conversation in the Levante Cafe in Madrid. Painting by Leonardo Alensa. Around 1825-1835 Museo de Historia de Madrid

    Another word for a special kind of gathering and leisure is tertulia . Its etymology is obscure, perhaps related to the 17th-century fashion for reading and discussing the writings of the early Christian philosopher Tertullian. Until the 19th century, Spanish tertulia were almost complete analogues of European salons and literary and artistic circles that gathered in private homes. Then they moved to city cafes ( сafés de tertulia ) and gradually acquired unique features. You can find references to the fact that the tertulia meetings began at the same time, contertulios , or tertulianos (“members of the tertulia”), always occupied their permanent places, meetings could not be missed without good reason, the conversation had to have a general character, etc. Tertulia formed around poets, writers, journalists, opinion leaders (the most famous tertulia of the 20th century is the tertulia in the Pombo cafe in Madrid, where the writer Ramon Gomez de la Serna presided), but unlike salons, they were called at the venue (tertulia of Fornos Cafe, Suizo Cafe, Gijon Cafe, etc.). Among the tertulia were both free and thematic, dedicated to a specific area – politics, history, literature, philosophy, certain sports, bullfighting, chess, etc. Tertulia were especially popular in the first third of the 20th century, but they also existed later, giving way only to the wild move. Photographs and paintings depicting the famous tertulia of the 20th century make it possible to notice another important detail that verbal descriptions miss: almost exclusively men took part in them.

    Now this is the name of colloquia and seminars, thematic groups in social networks and, most importantly, socio-political radio and television programs in the talk show format. Modern contertulios , or tertulianos , are professional participants in television discussions, broadcast stars.

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    5. Madrugar

    Wake up early

    Sloth. Painting by Ramon Casas. 1898 Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

    Madrugar is regularly included in lists of Spanish words with a unique meaning, noting that neither in English, nor in French, nor in German, nor in Italian, nor in Russian, it is impossible to express the meaning of this verb with one lexeme (however, there is a similar Catalan word matinar ).

    Indeed, in European languages ​​outside the Iberian Peninsula, it is not possible to find an exact match even in related Romance languages, where there are reflexes  Reflex – reflection of the sound or word of the ancestor language in the descendant language. the Latin great-great-ancestor of this Spanish word, the verb maturare (“hurry, hasten”). Madrugar is traced back to a folk (that is, Vulgar-Latin) not recorded in the sources, but reconstructed according to linguistic data * maturicare , which gave the Old Spanish madurgar and then, due to metathesis, rearrangement of sounds ( madurgar0 > 04 madurgar0 > 04 madurgar0, madurgar0 > 24 madurgar0 to a modern look. In the current phonetic form madrugar has been recorded since the 14th century, and the variant madurgar has been known since 1250.

    The proverb “Who gets up early, God gives him” is translated in Spanish succinctly, without any adverbs: Quien madruga, dios le ayuda a special word denoting early rise is needed today not because early awakenings are characteristic of the nation, but, on the contrary, to emphasize the idea of ​​their special heroism.

    The Spaniards go to bed later than all their European neighbors (at midnight, while the Germans at 22:00, the French at 22:30, and the Italians at 23:00) and wake up, respectively, the last. Dinner in Spain is also later than anywhere else in Europe, at nine or ten in the evening, even the evening television prime time starts at 10:00 pm – in other countries people are already getting ready for bed at this time. Such an unusual schedule is explained by the fact that the Spanish work schedule provides for a long break, at least two hours, which divides the day into two blocks: from about 10:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 20:00. This pause falls on the hottest time of the day, and it includes time not only for lunch, but also for a siesta. True, according to modern polls, only 18% of Spaniards have the habit of sleeping after dinner, and almost 60% never do so. However, the existing schedule, with its late bedtime, makes it possible to make the most of the hours after sunset. Proposals to abandon the current order and switch to a work schedule until 18:00 are constantly heard in the government, but so far remain proposals. So much more relevant than madrugar , for modern Spaniard verb trasnochar (“do not sleep at night” or “sleep very little” – from tras- , “re-“, and noche , “night”; the second meaning of the word is familiar to us “spend the night”).

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    6. Piso compartido

    Shared apartment

    Mahi balcony Painting by Francisco Goya. Circa 1800-1810 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Piso compartido (literally “shared apartment”) is a common form of housing in Spanish cities. Previously, it was popular with students who pooled rent during their studies, but in recent years, the average age of residents is piso compartido is steadily moving towards 35 years. In 2020, just over half of room renters were 18 to 25 years old, 30% were 26 to 35 years old, 11% were 36 to 45 years old, and about 7% were between 46 to 60 years old, 2% are over 60 years old.

    The reasons for the prevalence of new communal apartments are the high prices for buying and renting real estate. The average price of a room in Madrid and Barcelona is 425 and 455 euros per month, respectively; many people are not able to pay for the whole apartment. Large apartments traditional for Spanish development (with three, four, five bedrooms and a shared kitchen and living room) are usually rented by room. Piso compartido defines a way of life: for example, young people do not come together for a long time, but only go on dates (this, by the way, is also denoted by the verb salir ( con alguien ), “walking with someone”), because it is difficult find an apartment and a room where neighbors who are in a relationship will be welcome (too many problems – ranging from quarrels to utility bills). Each apartment has its own code, according to which the neighbors live: the cleaning schedule is regulated, the principles of storing food in the refrigerator, the payment procedure gastos , that is, utility costs, the possibility of inviting guests overnight (more people – more spending on water and electricity!), the ability to smoke in the apartment, etc. The numerous difficulties of communal life are compensated not only by savings on rent, but also by friendly connections. Often with compañeros de piso (“comrades, roommates”) they arrange joint dinners, movie screenings and hang out with them on weekends ( salir ).

    7. Hispanidad


    First landing of Christopher Columbus in America. Painting by Dioscoro of Puebla. 1862 Museo Nacional del Prado

    A word from the ideological dictionary of Francoism, preserved in the name of the national holiday of Spain – the Day of the Hispanidad (a common translation is the Day of the Spanish Nation). It is celebrated on October 12 – the day of the discovery of America – and causes mixed feelings among modern Spaniards.

    Hispanidad is a right-wing conservative concept, expressing the idea of ​​a community of peoples of the former Spanish Empire, connected by the unity of history, language and Catholic religion. The discoveries of Columbus within the framework of the right historical narrative are presented as the moment of the triumph of the Spanish nation, which went beyond the borders of Europe and created the great Ibero-Latin American world, the borders of which stretch from Patagonia to the Balearic Islands.

    The interpretation of the holiday, presenting the colonization (conquest) of America as a major historical achievement, is not supported by many Spaniards, and certainly not shared in Latin American countries. This is reflected in the modern names of the holiday on October 12 in different states: Day of Interculturality and Multiethnicity in Ecuador, Day of Indigenous Resistance in Venezuela and Nicaragua, Day of Respect for Cultural Differences in Argentina, Day of the Discovery of Two Worlds in Chile.

    Hispanidad as an ideology of religious conservative Pan-Spanism conflicts not only with the doctrines of Latin American states, but also with the concepts of multinationality within Spain itself, where Catalonia, the Basque Country, Navarre, Valencia, Aragon, Galicia and other so-called historical nations ( nacionalidad histórica ) uphold their national and cultural identity and even independence.

    8. Castellano


    Arms of Aragon, León and Castile in a solemn procession during the funeral of Carlos I of Spain. Engraving by Hieronymus Wellens de Cock. 1559 Wikimedia Commons

    The issue of Spanish national and territorial unity is very complex. Many residents of the country do not identify themselves with Spain as such at all: according to a 2012 survey, there were 23.5% of such people in the Basque Country, 21.9% in Catalonia, and 16.9% in Navarre. For peripheral areas, regional and linguistic identity are much more important than nationwide, that is, a resident of Mallorca or Galicia feels first of all a Majorcan or Galician, a native speaker of the respective languages, and only then, perhaps, a Spaniard. In connection with this state of affairs in modern Spain, the volume and meaning of the words “homeland” ( patria ), “patriotism” ( patriotismo ), “nation” ( nación ), “nationality” ( nacionalidad ) are very fluid.

    One reflection of these difficulties at the linguistic level is the controversy over the correct name of Cervantes’ language. The word español – Spanish – is associated with the Francoist ideology and its prohibitions on the use of other languages ​​of the peninsula  The name español is more common in Latin American countries.. El idioma español lo inventó Franco (“Franco invented the Spanish language”) is a common phrase implying that instead of Spanish, one should speak of Castilian, that is, the language of the region / kingdom of Castile, the geographical homeland of the dialect that formed the basis of the common language for the country literary language.

    Today, this name – castellano – is completely established. It emphasizes respect for the multinational character of the Spanish state: by calling the language Castilian, and not Spanish, the speaker, as it were, puts it on a par with other languages ​​​​of the country (and not above them). After the adoption of the Constitution 19For 78 years, Basque, Catalan and Galician have been recognized as official languages ​​in their autonomous communities, they are taught in schools and universities, radio and television broadcasts, etc. All official languages ​​​​are called “Spanish languages” in the text of the Constitution, and Castilian is the state Spanish. In 2006, the status of an official language was given to the fifth language – Aranese (a variant of Occitan), which is spoken in one of the regions of Catalonia.

    9. Ojalá

    If only, God forbid, I hope, let

    Two Franciscan friars. Painting by Bartolome Esteban Murillo. Circa 1645-1647 National Gallery of Canada

    Ojalá (stress on the third syllable) is an extremely common interjection and is a clear example of Arabic linguistic influence. Among the most common modern Spanish words, there are many Arabicisms. They mainly penetrated into Castilian speech from the Andalusian-Arabic dialect through the Mozarabic language., Which are usually easy to identify by the initial al- or a -, e.g. alcoba (“bedroom”, “alcove”), algodón (“cotton”), azúcar (“sugar”), azotea (“roof”) , almohada (“pillow”).

    Guessing the Arabic origin of ojalá is more difficult – it goes back to the whole expression law šá lláh (“if God wants”), which, apparently, was often heard in the speech of the inhabitants of Al-Andalus. For those who are starting to learn Spanish, the word often causes difficulties due to its ambiguity. Here are some examples of its use and translation: ¡ Ojala sea así ! (“It would be nice!”) ¡ Ojalá lleguemos a tiempo ! (“I hope we will arrive on time!”) Ojalá regrese pronto . (“If only he would return soon. ”) ¡ Ojalá fuese tan fácil ! (“If only it were that easy!”)

    Single exclamations ¡ Ojalá ! express hope and encouragement: “I hope!”, “God forbid!”

    10. Nunca jamás

    Never again, never-never

    Romance, or Suicide. Painting by Leonardo Alensa. Around 1839 Museo del Romanticismo de Madrid

    The expression nunca jamás attracts attention as an example of expressive linguistic excess, in other words, pleonasm. Both words – and nunca , and jamás – adverbs and in modern Spanish have a synonymous meaning “never”. Used together, they give an example of a vivid emphase, that is, an emotional emphasis that is difficult to convey in another language. This combination is usually translated using the options “never again”, “never in my life”, which look rather pale against the background of the Spanish original. Nunca jamás resembles modern expressions with complete lexical reduplication like estoy harto pero harto harto (“I’m sick of it, really sick of it”; cf. Russian “white-white” in the meaning “very white”), but thanks to that that it is not the same word that is repeated, but two synonyms, it seems more eloquent.

    Pleonastic combinations that are redundant from a semantic point of view are found in many languages ​​and, as signals of additional expressiveness, are most characteristic of colloquial speech. But in the case of nunca jamás we are not dealing with a phrase from modern colloquial speech – on the contrary, this expression is inherited from Vulgar Latin.

    Latin iam magis (“already” + “more”), giving Spanish jamás , Italian giammai and French jamais used to reinforce adverbs nunquam (“never”) and 4(” always”) in the expressions nunquam iam magis and semper iam magis and gave in Old Spanish nunca jamás (“never again”) and siempre jamás (“forever”). The frequent use of the negation formula in this form led to the fact that jamás was assigned a negative, and not just an intensifying meaning, and it began to be used in isolation. The formula siempre jamás is also preserved in the language, although it is perceived by modern speakers as nonsense (“always never”): it is used in the Spanish Bible in the meaning “and forever and ever”, and also with its help the fairy ending is transmitted in Spanish “ they lived happily ever after” ( vivieron felices por siempre jamás ).

    Explanatory dictionary entry for the word jamás will amuse any Spanish learner, because the first meaning of the word is “never”, and the second – with the mark “obsolete” – “always”.

    11. Romance

    Romance, romance verse

    Maho with a guitar. Painting by Ramon Bayeu. Around 1778 Museo Nacional del Prado

    The word romance , used to name the popular language derived from Latin, acquired a specific meaning in the territory of the Iberian Peninsula – this is how poetic works in this language and their special poetic form began to be called there. In other words, romance is a type of verse (in Russian, to avoid confusion, they say “romantic verse”) with which romances are written, and these romances themselves are folk lyrical-epic works, analogues of a European ballad. In exemplary romances, eight-syllable lines follow each other, interconnected by assonant rhyme through a line to the same vowels (odd lines are left blank):

    Cuando el alba me despierta (8-)
    los recuerdos de otras albas (8a)
    me renacen en el pecho (8-)
    las que fueron esperanzas. (8a)

    It is believed that this form was born from a long epic verse with continuous assonances – such as the epic poem “The Song of Sid” was written. The first known written sample of the romance dates back to the 15th century, but, according to authoritative researchers, it arose much earlier and existed as a folk song form already in the 13th-14th centuries.

    The main thing that distinguishes romance verse and the works written by him from other Spanish poems is rhyme. The opposition of assonance (inexact rhyme) and consonance (exact rhyme) corresponds in Spanish poetry to the opposition of two poetic registers – folklore and literary. In no other Romance literature that knows assonant rhyme does this type of final consonance have a continuous history of use from the Middle Ages to the present, and nowhere does a verse built on the use of such consonance play such an important role in the poetic tradition. Spanish romance verse is a national treasure and a symbol of the originality of poetic culture.

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    The heyday of folk romance in Spain dates back to the 16th-17th centuries. Then the first collections of romances appeared – romances – and the transition of the genre and the corresponding verse form from folklore to literature took place. Romances have significantly expanded their subject matter: metaphysical and burlesque texts also appear. In the 16th century, romance verse began to be used on stage as well. If the early Lope de Vega has little romance verse in dramas (he gradually turns to it more and more often), then in Calderon it takes up to half of the dramatic text.

    The book Civil Wars in Granada (1604) by Ginés Pérez de Ita (its first part, The Tale of Segri and Abencerrach, was also published separately, 1595) played a huge role in the history of the romance as a pan-European genre. Many romances in the Moorish spirit were collected there, which subsequently spread in translations into European languages ​​and became models for numerous imitations. European romantics became interested in the genre and its formal features, thanks to which the word “romance” itself as a designation of a poetic work entered different languages, including Russian.

    Romantic verse was never forgotten in the homeland, but its real rise dates back to the 20th century. Suffice it to point to the poetic practice of Federico Garcia Lorca and his contemporaries, who not only used the classical form of romance, but also modernized Spanish poetry, developing precisely the romance tradition.

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