How to say “Spanish” in Spanish

April 23, 2021
Adam SediaAdam Sedia
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Spanish originates in Spain, and is spoken throughout the world, including across two continents in Latin America. But did you know that not only are there different kinds of Spanish. In Spanish, dialects are more than just different accents; entire words can be very different – just like the difference between British and American English. For example, in Spain “strawberry,” “peach,” and “pineapple” are “fresa,” “melocotón,” and “piña,” while in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile they are “frutilla,” “durazno,” and “ananas.”

Not only are common words different, but Spanish has different ways to say the name of the language itself. In Argentina, Spanish is not called “Español,” but “Castellano.” It turns out that in Spain, too, it is called “Castellano” – or “Castilian” in English. That’s because in Spain, other languages are spoken, and calling Castilian Spanish is seen as an insult to the other languages in Spain. Aside from Castilian, Spain is home to Aragonese and Asturian, which are similar to it, as well as Galician (or Gallego) which is close to Portuguese, and Catalan. All of these other languages are descended from Latin, too, but Spain’s other language, Basque (Vasco in Spanish or Euskera in its own language) is unrelated to any other known language, and dates from a time before the Romans conquered what is now Spain.

The name Castilian comes from the medieval kingdom of Castile (or Castilla in Spanish), which along with Leon, Aragon, Navarre, and Portugal, was one of the Christian kingdoms that fought to reconquer Spain from the Muslim invaders. Castile was the most powerful of these kingdoms, so its language became dominant. When Queen Isabella of Castile married Ferdinand II of Aragon in 1492, their kingdoms united to form modern Spain – and that same year they sent Columbus on his voyage, where he found a new land for the Spanish language to grow and develop.
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