The Languages of Spain
Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world. It has around 480 million native speakers and 75 million speakers, who learned Spanish as a second language. Although Spanish developed in Spain from the former Vulgar Latin, the most native speakers live in Latin-America. Along with the official language Spanish, Basque, Catalan and Galician are co-official languages in some regions of Spain. Basque is spoken in a small region of the Western Pyrenees. With only approximately 750.000 speakers, it is officially classified as a “vulnerable” language on the UNESCO Map of the world’s languages in danger. Catalan is spoken by approx. ten million citizen in the region of Catalonia, the Balearic islands and Valencia. Furthermore, it is the only official language of Andorra. Galician is spoken by approx. 2.4 million native speakers in Galicia and little communities in other regions of Spain, in some European countries and in America.
Spanish is a Romance language of the Ibero branch. There is much variation between the European and the Latin-American version.
Features of Spanish:
- The inflectional system is limited for the declination of nouns, adjectives and determiners, but the conjugation of verbs produces over 50 word forms per verb.
- Spanish is an SVO-language, but the word order deviates sometimes from the ordinary order.
- Direct and indirect object pronouns are often used, although they are redundant in many situations.
Basque is the only pre-Indo-European language of Western Europe. The only known related language is the extinct language Aquitanian. Although Basque is spoken by a small community, it has many dialectal variations. The six commonly accepted dialects differ on the lexical, phonetic, morphological and prosodic level.
Features of Basque:
- Basque is an agglutinating language. Grammatical and lexical morphemes with single meanings are attached and form a long prosodic unit with one root and several affixes, which are clearly assignable to their function.
- Moreover, it is an ergative-absolutive-language. The cases ergative and absolutive have the function of marking subject and direct object. Within sentences with intransitive verbs, the absolutive marks the subject, but in sentences with transitive verbs the absolutive marks the direct object and the ergative the subject.
Catalan belongs to the Romance language family. The languages closest related are Italian and French. The regional variations are classified in five main dialects, which differ in the pronunciation of the vowels, the used functional words and some vocabulary.
Features of Catalan:
- Catalan is an SVO-language, but the word order is changed sometimes by the use of clitic elements.
- It is also a pro-drop-language. Usually, the subject pronoun can be skipped, because the verb form contains the information about the subject.
- The verb and the auxiliary verb can not be seperated in a sentence. They have to be adjacent words in every sentence.
Galician belongs to the Western-Ibero branch of the Romance language family. It is closely related to Portuguese. The dialects are grouped in three main dialects: Eastern, Central and Western Galician dialect. They differ mostly on phonological and morphological level.
Features of Galician:
- The stress of syllables is a distinctive feature of words.
- It is also an SVO-language with clitic elements, which can change the sentence structure.
- The passive form of verbs is rarely used in daily life. Instead, the speakers use an inverted word order or the active form with a third reflexive pronoun or an impersonal structure with a verb, inflected as a third person singular, and the pronoun “se”, but without a subject.
Wikipedia contributors. (2020, July 6). Indo-European languages. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:00, July 6, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-European_languages.
Wikipedia contributors. (2020, July 6). Spanish language. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:00, July 6, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_language.
Wikipedia contributors. (2020, July 5). Basque language. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:00, July 6, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basque_language.
WWikipedia contributors. (2020, July 5). Catalan language. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:00, July 6, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalan_language.
Wikipedia contributors. (2020, June 24). Galician language. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 10:00, July 7, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galician_language.