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The Spanish Language Spread by Exploration and Trade

The Spanish language is considered to be one of the most lovely of the world's romantic dialects. Technically, Spanish is of the subfamily called Italic, which is a part of the family of languages call Indo-European. Spanish has its roots in the Iberian peninsula of southern Europe. It is widely spoken all through Latin America with over 380 million Spanish speakers estimated worldwide.

While most often referred to as Spanish, the language is also sometimes known as Castilian, which is in reference to the dialect from which modern Spanish developed. The Castilian dialect originated from the area of the Cordillera Cantabrica, which is in the northern part of Spain. From that part of the Iberian peninsula, the language spread with trade and exploration.

When explorers and colonists left Spain, they took the Spanish language with them to areas of the new world that they encountered, settled into and began to populate. The first areas where they took their Spanish abroad was to the neighboring areas of the west and north coasts of Africa and also the Canary Islands. As they continued their explorations, the language was spread to the southern segment of North America, Central America and South America, the islands of the Philippines and the Antilles.

Spanish is the official tongue of all of the countries of South America with the exception of Brazil and French Guyana, and of the six republics that make up Central America. It is also the official language of Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. In addition, Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the United States leading to a great interest in Spanish lessons. There are large and growing communities of Spanish-speakers found in Arizona, California, New Mexico, New York City, Texas and the southern part of Florida, as well as other states.

On the European Iberian peninsula, the areas where Spanish is spoken does not exactly follow the political borders of the country of Spain. Spain actually is made up of three non-Spanish-speaking areas: Galicia, which is in the north-western area of the country, where Gallegan (which is actually a dialect of the Portuguese language) is spoken; the Basque provinces in the northern part of Spain where the language of Basque (a unique agglutinative language) is spoken; and, Catalonia on the east coast of Spain, where Catalan (also considered a romance language) is spoken. In addition, Catalan is spoken in the Balearic Islands, in the Pyrenees-Orientatles area of France, in Argentina and in parts of Cuba.

The grammatical structure of the language is very much similar to the basics of the other romance languages such as French, Portuguese and Italian. This makes it much easier for someone who speaks another Roman language to quickly learn Spanish and conjugate Spanish verbs, and vice versa.

While the majority of the Spanish vocabulary that makes up the Spanish language was derived from Latin, there are many Spanish words that come from other languages, such as the pre-Latin languages such as Basque, Celtic and Greek. Later, with the invasion of the Iberian peninsula by the Visigoths, some Germanic words were also introduced into Spanish. Additionally, with the conquest of the area by Muslims, many Arabic words were integrated into Spanish. These are words that can be recognized by the Arabic prefix of "al" such as in the word "almuerzo" which means lunch.