In the National Hispanic Heritage Month, observed from September 15 to October 15, I’d like to share some interesting facts about Spanish.
1. Spanish is spoken by more than 350 million native speakers worldwide and it is the second most spoken language in the world.
2. Spanish is an official language, alone or with other languages, in 21 countries (6.23% of the population)
3. With more than 150 million users, Spanish is the third most used language on the Internet and the second on Facebook, after English.
4. 55 million people speak Spanish as a second language worldwide.
5. The first Spanish language “Gramática” was published in 1492. It was the first grammar book to focus on a Western European language besides Latin. You can read the full text of the “Gramática de la lengua castellana” (its digital version) at http://www.antoniodenebrija.org/indice.html.
6. The Royal Spanish Language Academy was founded in 1713.
7. Spanish is an official language of the United Nations, together with Arabic, Chinese, English, French and Russian.
8. Mexico is home to the largest population of Spanish speakers. (110 million people)
9. More than 80% of Spanish words are common to all Spanish varieties in the world.
10. According to Instituto Cervantes, 15 million people around the world study Spanish as a foreign language.
11. Spanish became very popular worldwide partly because of soap operas like Topacio which was broadcasted in 45 countries. Betty la fea (the Spanish soap opera on which Ugly Betty is based) entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful soap opera, broadcasted in more than 100 countries and dubbed into 15 languages.
12. Spanish is expanding because of the increasing number of Spanish speakers in the world, its relative linguistic unity, its significance in the literary world and the media, and its online presence.
13. Spanish has more than a million words but the Dictionary of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language (DRAE) only has over 80,000 entries.
14. New words recently added to the DRAE include bloguero (blogger), chat (chat, n.), chatear (chat, v.), among others. You can see an article about the additions here (in Spanish.)
15. The Spanish alphabet has 27 letters, “ñ” being the only one that is not included in the English alphabet. In 1994, the Royal Spanish Academy stopped considering the letters ch and ll as independent letters.
16. Spain is the fourth largest publisher in the world, after the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States.
17. The Nuevo diccionario histórico del español (NDHE) was created in 2005 in an effort to research lexicography and study the evolution of words and their meanings.
18. If you study Spanish, it is a good idea to consider obtaining a DELE (Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera), Spanish as a Second Language Diploma, which is valid worldwide.