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Spanish or Castilian (Spanish: español' or Spanish: castellano' in Spanish) is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia during the 9th century[1] and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the later Medieval period.

Modern Spanish developed with the readjustment of consonants (Spanish: reajuste de las sibilantes') that began in 15th century. The language continues to adopt foreign words from a variety of other languages, as well as developing new words. Spanish was taken most notably to the Americas as well as to Africa and Asia Pacific with the expansion of the Spanish Empire between the 15th and 19th centuries, where it became the most important language for government and trade.[2]

In 1999, there were according to Ethnologue 358 million people speaking Spanish as a native language and a total of 417 million speakers[3] worldwide. Currently these figures are up to 400[4][5] and 500[6] million people respectively. Spanish is the second most natively spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese.[7] Mexico contains the largest population of Spanish speakers. Spanish is one of the six official languages of the United Nations, and used as an official language of the European Union, and Mercosur. Spanish is the second most studied language in the world, after English.[8][9]

Spanish is the fastest growing Indo-European language in the world by numbers of native speakers.[citation needed] Due to its increasing presence in the demographics and popular culture of the United States, Spanish is widely considered to be the most beneficial second language for a native speaker of American English and is also highly regarded in the British Commonwealth, due to the language's immense geographic extent in Latin America and Europe for tourism.[citation needed]

References

  1. La RAE avala que Burgos acoge las primeras palabras escritas en castellano (Spanish). www.elmundo.es
  2. Spanish languages "Becoming the language for trade" in Spain and. sejours-linguistiques-en-espagne.com/index.html. URL accessed on 2010-05-11.
  3. (SPANISH: a language of Spain). ethnologue.com. URL accessed on 2010-04-21.
  4. IV CILE. Paneles y ponencias. Hiram Vivanco Torres. Congresosdelalengua.es. URL accessed on 2010-11-06.
  5. elcastellano.org.
  6. krysstal.com / 5th International Congress on Spanish Language (la-moncloa.es) / toplanguagecommunity.co.uk / uis.edu / Antonio Molina, director of the Instituto Cervantes in 2006 (terranoticias.es, elmundo.es) / Luis María Anson of the Real Academia Española (elcultural.es) / International Congress about Spanish, 2008 / Mario Melgar of the México University (lllf.uam.es), / Enrique Díaz de Liaño Argüelles, director of Celer Solutions multilingual translation network (elintercultural.net) / Feu Rosa - Spanish in Mercosur (congresosdelalengua.es) / elpais.com / eumed.net / efeamerica.com / babel-linguistics.com.
  7. ethnologue.org, sil.org, cia.gov (see "World" file), eldia.es (according to Ethnology (journal)), Encarta (Chinese 800 million, Spanish 358 million, English 350 million).
  8. Spanish: Second most studied language worldwide
  9. El español es el segundo idioma que más se estudia en el mundo, según el Instituto Cervantes. Elpais.com. URL accessed on 2011-02-05.


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