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The History of Spanish

Learn more about the origin, history, facts  and prominent authors of the Spanish language. Be inspired to read more Spanish!

Students after a Spanish lessonWhy learn Spanish?

  • The second most natively spoken language in the world.
  • Widely used in business and diplomatic circles.
  • The third most used language on the Internet.
  • Allows you to communicate with people from Spain to South, Central and North America in their native tongue.
  • Spoken by 100s of millions
  • It is fun!

Origin of Spanish

Spain consists of several regions that historically were autonomous kingdoms. The Spanish language, as spoken today, has its origin in the kingdom of Castile. It is therefore often referred to as Castillian. The language evolved from Latin and is part of the Ibero-Romance family of languages. When the spoken form of Latin was exported to the north of the Iberian Peninsula it fell under heavy influence by Basque dialects and Arabic as well as several dialects in the central-north area of today’s Spain.

Expansion of Spanish

The spreading of the Spanish language was mainly propelled by the Reconquista – the roughly eight centuries of the Middle Ages when Spain was reconquested from the Moors. This allowed the country to unify under one crown and one language and to let Spain embark on an imperial quest of their own that would spread the language to the Americas.  Today there are almost 360 million native speakers of Spanish with Mexico being the largest contributor. Spanish is one of six official languages at the United Nations, and chosen second language for the majority of native English speakers.

Famous Spanish language Authors

Spanish language author - Miguel CervantesMiguel Cervantes (1547 – 1616, Spain). Wrote one of the greatest classics in world literature, Don Quijote.  He was a warrior captured by the Turks and sold as a slave in Algeria. After escaping to Spain he become history’s first ‘modern’ author.



Spanish language author - Jorge Louis BorgesJorge Luis Borges (1899 – 1986, Argentina). Probably the only reason this why this influential genius never received the Nobel prize is that he didn’t write novels. His erudite, imaginative stories are still among the great treasures of 20th century literature. The Aleph and  Ficciones are among his best known work.




Spanish language author - Gabriel Garcia MarquezGabriel Garcia Marquez (1927, Colombia). Has won the Nobel Prize of literature. The former journalist is best known for One Hundreds Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera, Chronicle of a Death Foretold and many more. One of the giants of 20th century literature.



Spanish language author - Mario Vargas llosa

Mario Vargas Llosa (1936, Peru). Has been one of the most important voices of South American literature, and at times, politics for decades.  Was rewarded the Nobel Prize in 2010. Death in the Andes and The way to Paradise are among his well known books.

Pablo Neruda (1904, 1973. Chile). Another recipient of the Spanish language author - Pablo NerudaNobe Prize (1971), the poet born Ricardo Basoalto is remembered for his sensual love poems, like the collection Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair and as a prominent senator of the Communist party in Chile. Probably a combination that he alone has achieved!

Spanish author - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Carlos Ruiz Zafon (1964, Spain). This Barcelona born US based writer shot to fame with his novel  The Shadow of the Wind in 2010. He has been translated into more than 30 languages and could claim to be Spain’s most successful author.

 Overview of all Barcelona Spanish courses

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