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Spanish, or Castilian, is a Roman language that appeared in the 8th and 9th centuries. It is inherited from the Latin that was spoken in the region of Cantabria after the decline of the Roman Empire.

As we well know, the Iberian Peninsula was the theater of an influx of people from different horizons over the centuries (various religions and cultures). This has been influencing the Spanish culture and language.

The Romans conquered the Iberian Peninsula between the 3rd and 1st centuries B.C. and imposed Latin as their language. Thus, all the languages spoken before that time in the peninsula were lost, with the exception of Basque. 

During the 5th century, the Western Roman Empire suffered barbarian invasions from Germania (in Spain it was the Visigoths), so they had a great influence by incorporating several Germanic terms into Latin. 

Then, between the 8th and 15th centuries the Moors from Mauritania and Morocco ruled Spain. The population continued to speak their own language, but, of course, Arabic had a strong influence on Castilian. In fact, words from Arabic are still used today such as oil (azzayt), sugar (sukkar), olé, pillow (almuẖádda), murderer (ḥaššāšīn), neighborhood (barrī) orange (nāranǧ), guitar (kithára), and many more….

For its part, Castilian appeared in the 800s during the Arab-Muslim occupation when a county called “County of Castile”, vassal of the Kingdom of Asturias, was won by the Castilians and populated by a mostly Basque population. In 1035 this county became a kingdom (Kingdom of Castile). Over the years, this kingdom extended to the north of Spain. In 1212 the Christian reconquest began, led by the Kingdom of Castile. All the cities occupied by the Muslims fell one by one, except Granada, which remained until 1492. After the reconquest, Spain was divided into several kingdoms: the kingdom of Castile (Castilian-speaking), the kingdom of Aragon (Catalan-speaking), the kingdom of Navarre (Basque-speaking), the Principality of Andorra (Catalan-speaking) and the kingdom of Portugal (Portuguese-speaking).

In 1469, the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon were unified. This allowed the expansion of Castilian, to the detriment of Catalan. In 1512, with the incorporation of Navarre, the Spain we know today was completely unified. The language then spread naturally throughout the territory due to the economic and political power of Castile. 

Between the XVI and XVII centuries we speak of the Golden Century of the Spanish language because under the influence of Charles Quintus, heir to an immense empire, expeditions to the Americas began to expand the territory. The Aztec Empire was conquered in 1521 and the Inca Empire in 1533. 

By the middle of the 16th century, Spain was in charge of almost all of South America, but also Central America, Cuba, Florida, and the Philippines, which allowed the Spanish language to spread throughout the world with greater power.

Under the Bourbon dynasty in the 18th century, and the great policy of centralization, the population was forced to speak Castilian throughout Spain, and it became the official language of the entire Spanish kingdom, although Basque, Asturian, Andalusian, Aragonese and Catalan are still spoken today. In this century, Castilian began to resemble the Castilian spoken today.

During the 19th century, Spain lost its influence worldwide, both politically and economically, and gradually lost all its colonies in the Americas. This is the reason why Spain decided to continue its colonialist policy towards Africa with Spanish Guinea, which today is called Equatorial Guinea. 

During the Spanish military dictatorship, General Franco, a firm supporter of the monarchy, wanted to return Spain to the status of great power it had known during the Golden Age, and wanted Castilian to be the only language spoken in Spain. To this end, he banned Catalan and Basque, for example, and books in these languages were burned. Since the end of the dictatorship, there is much more tolerance towards these languages in Spain.

Today, most of the countries that were conquered by Spain still use Spanish, although from one country to another, or even from one region to another, different expressions and words are used.

It is the official language of 21 countries in the world, and also one of the official languages of the United Nations. Spanish is spoken by 7.6% of the world’s population, with 580 million people.

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