Languages ​​of Spain

Spanish flag

The Kingdom of Spain is a country belonging to Europe, whose capital is Madrid. It has a population of 47 million inhabitants (30th) and an area of ​​505,990 km 2 (51st). Its human development index is very high (26th) and its official currency is the euro. And what language is spoken in Spain?

What language do they speak in Spain?

Spain has an official language, Spanish (or Castilian).

In addition, there are 6 autonomous communities where another 4 languages ​​have been co-official since 1978:

  • Catalan: in Catalonia, the Valencian Community and the Balearic Islands.
  • Galician: in Galicia .
  • Basque: in the Basque Country and Navarra.
  • The Aranese: in Catalonia.
map of co-official languages ​​in spain

The following table indicates, in percentages, the mother tongue of the inhabitants of these autonomous communities:

In addition, there are other non-official but recognized languages, such as Aragonese (25,556 speakers) and Astur-Leonese (~140,000). The Cantabrian and the Extremaduran, both in danger of extinction, could also be considered as such. Aragonese is recognized by Aragon as its own, original and historical language; Asturian – Leonese is regulated by the Principality of Asturias and its Leonese variant in Castilla y León. Minority languages ​​are Caló (spoken by gypsies), Rifeño (spoken in Melilla), Arabic (Melilla and Ceuta) and Eonaviego (Asturias).

In the following animated image you can carefully observe the chronological evolution suffered by the languages ​​of the Iberian Peninsula in the last millennium:

map of the evolution of languages ​​and languages ​​in Spain and its expansion

The most common immigrant languages ​​are Arabic (808,300), Romanian (702,000), English (286,000), Chinese (208,000), Italian (189,000), Bulgarian (127,000), German (110,000), Ukrainian (103,000), French (95,600).), Russian (71,800), Polish (52,900), Dutch (42,300), and Tagalog (32,600).

In education, mainly English is taught as a foreign language. It is followed by French and, to a lesser extent, German and Italian. This has not always been the case, since until the 1970s the main foreign language was French. However, the Spanish population does not speak these languages; percentage of the population that can hold a conversation in: English (22%), French (9%), Italian (2%), German (2%).

The Spanish language

Spanish (or Castilian) is the mother tongue of 89% of Spaniards, and is spoken by 98.9 % of the population. It is the fourth country with the most Spanish speakers in the world, after Mexico, the United States and Colombia. Some of the dialectal varieties are northern Castilian (northern half), Andalusian speech (Andalusia, Ceuta and Melilla), Canarian speech (Canary Islands), Murcian dialect (Murcia Region), Castúo (Extremadura) and Rioja speech (La Rioja).

map of native spanish speakers in spain

Catalan language

Catalan (català) is spoken by 23.3% of the Spanish population (both Catalan [17.5%] and Valencian [5.8%] are counted). In Catalonia, 85% of its inhabitants are able to use it, in the Balearic Islands 63.1% and in the Valencian Community 51.8%.

It has a large number of dialects, with a delimitation between the western and eastern bloc. The main difference between both blocks is the neutralization or not of the unstressed «a». In addition, there are dialects that have disappeared, such as the Minorcan of Fort-de-l’Eau (now Bordj El Kiffan, in Algeria), as well as that of the bourgeoisie of the main cities of Sardinia, Sicily and Naples.

Catalan Valencian dialects map

Galician language

Galician (galego) is spoken by 6.2% of Spaniards. In Galicia, 89% of its inhabitants can use it.

Its linguistic areas are divided into three blocks: western block (dark blue), with important cities such as Vigo and Pontevedra; central block (blue) in Santiago, La Coruña, Ferrol, Lugo and Orense; eastern block (light blue), in Ponferrada (León).

map of blocks and linguistic areas of Galician

These blocks are characterized by their way of constructing the plural of words ending in -n: cans/cas (western and central block, respectively) and cas/cais (central and eastern block, respectively). Galician could also be separated using the gheada criterion (aspirating the g to turn it into an h), which is present in the west and not in the east.

Basque language

Basque or Basque (Euskara) is spoken by 3.0% of the inhabitants. This figure increases, in the case of the Basque Country, to 55.5% and, in the case of Navarra, to 21.7%. It is the only language in Spain (of the official ones) that is not Romance, considered an isolated language, since no relationship with any other language, living or dead, has been proven.

Within Basque there are six dialects (euskalkiak) and a standard variety, Batúa Basque. In addition to the Basque Country and Navarra, there are two places in Burgos and Cantabria where at least 20% of the population understands Basque, given that they are enclaves in the Basque Country (Treviño and Valle de Villaverde, respectively).

knowledge map of basque euskera

The Aranese language

Aranese (Aranese ) is a variety of Occitan, spoken by 2,765 people. It is spoken in the Aran Valley (Vall d’Aran) and is a variety of Occitan, a language spoken in the southern part of France. It has been official since 2010 throughout Catalonia, when the Catalan Parliament ratified the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia (2006), although it is used preferentially in the Arán Valley. In this location, Spanish is the mother tongue of 38.8% of its inhabitants, compared to 34.2% of Aranese and 19.4% of Catalan.

Aranese dialect of Occitan in the Vall de Aran

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