Spanish is the second most widely spoken language around the globe, with more than 329 million speakers. It ranks a far second to Chinese which has 1.2 billion speakers but slightly edges English, which has 328 million speakers.
According to Ethnologue, nearly 3 million native speakers of Spanish can be found in each of 44 countries, making it one of the most geographically spoken language on a wider scale, after English, French and Arabic, in that order. It started to spread around the 13th century when King Alfonso exerted efforts to have the language standardized for official use in Spain. Depending on where the speaker is located or one’s political viewpoint, Spanish can be called Castellano or Español. Unique to Spanish are the inverted question mark and exclamation point as well as the character, ñ.
Spanish is a member of the Indo-European language family and had major influences from Latin and following that, Arabic during the rule and dominance of the Moors. Today, it is highly influenced by English and some other foreign languages the words of which have been assimilated into the Spanish lexicon. Yet there are quite a number of English words spoken today that are of Spanish origin.
Spanish is a non-official language in the United States but nevertheless spoken and seen daily, at times unwittingly. California, Florida, Montana and Nevada are of Spanish origin. Other words in use include armadillo, banana, buckaroo, cannibal, cafeteria, cargo, chilli, cilantro, embargo, hurricane, macho, mustang, peon, puma, ranch and rodeo. From Spain came some Quechua words like llama and (beef) jerky. You will often hear New Yorkers say bodega when they mean the corner store.
It is not surprising to learn that many words in (American) English are of Spanish origin, since major parts of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, California, Arizona and Wyoming were part of Mexico before these places became officially part of the United States in 1848 through the Treaty of Guadalupe.
With globalization and increased use of technically-advanced global communication learning at least one foreign language becomes highly important. Spanish is one language that is very useful, simply because there are more speakers of this language. English and Spanish also share a large vocabulary based through cognates. It is an official language in 21 countries, the second language in international communication and ranks third most used international language for culture, economics and politics.
Most colleges, at least in the United States, look favorably on incoming students that have at least two years of learning a foreign language indicated in their transcript from high school. There are more job opportunities, both domestic and international if you are proficient in at least one foreign language. It is good for the health as well, as there have been numerous studies proving that more languages learned produce more brain activity. In some studies, it has been proven that cases of Alzheimer’s are less prevalent in bilingual and multilingual people.
So now, don’t you think that learning Spanish is an invaluable asset and a healthy way to nurture your brain?
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