Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Learning the Languages of Spain



Castilian is known as Spanish to the rest of the world, and it is the official language of Spain, signified by the Constitution. That means that Spanish people have the obligation to know it, and right to use it, listed under Article 3. The naming of Castilian dates back to the Moorish conquest of Spain, when the Arabs were trying to communicate with people in the castles. Castilian was then declared the official language of Spain in 1714, by Philip V. The popularity of the language spread to linguists and authors during the 16th and 17th centuries. The language adapted to the name “Spanish” in 1925, when the Spanish Royal Academy (Real Academia Española) published an official dictionary. This academy exists today in Madrid, and it is responsible for clarifying and purifying the language. The academy is close with many other language academies in the Latin American world. Spanish is the most widely spoken Romance language in the world, being the official language of 350 million people.



Catalan is another important Romance language spoken in Spain. Its earliest literary text is Homilies d’Organya, which is from the 12th century. It became normalized in 1907 by Prat de la Riba from the Institut d’Estudis Catalans, who studied scientific elements of Catalan culture. Its spelling and grammar was uniformed by 1913. About 5-6 million people speak Catalan as their mother tongue. In Spain, it is the co-official language of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and the Valencian Community. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, a very popular city for expats and tourists, and many people who live there do know Spanish but prefer not to speak it. People in Catalonia also consider their history and culture as more Mediterranean, distinct from mainland Spain. Catalan is also the official language of Andorra.



Euskera is the Basque language, which is spoken in the northern central part of Spain. Today it has adopted the Latin alphabet. This language is spoken by 25% of all ethnic Basques, who live in Spain and France. This language is struggling to survive. Apart from the greater term Euskera, there are six different versions of the spoken Basque language, three of which are in Spain: Bizkaian, Gipuzkoan and Upper Navarrese. It is different from the Romance languages, as it is the last remaining pre-Indo-European language in Western Europe. It is an isolated language, and little is known of its origin. The Basques are considered the oldest indigenous group known in Europe.


2 thoughts on “Learning the Languages of Spain

  1. what about gallego (officila), aragonés o fabla(non official) and asturiano o bable(non official)??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.