Spanish, also known as Castilian language, is one of the Romance languages. It originates from the Castile region of Spain. Since it belongs to the Romance languages branch of the Indo-European language family, it has similarities with the other languages in this category, French and Italian; however, the most similarity is with Portuguese. Spanish, spoken by roughly 480 million people as a native language, is the second most spoken language in the world, and it is also considered the most used official language by the countries in the world.
Countries using Spanish as their official language are: Spain, Cuba, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Uruguay, Western Sahara and Venezuela.
41 million people, whose native language is Spanish, are living in the United States of America. Although the country’s constitution does not define any official languages, Spanish is the second most spoken language after English. Especially, almost all of the people living in the Southern USA speaks Spanish.
It is used as the official language in international and interregional organizations, such as the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization of American States, the Organization of Ibero-American States, the African Union, Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat, the Latin Union, the Caribbean Common Market and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
In Europe, only Spain uses Spanish as an official language. Although not an official language there, this language is used very commonly in Gibraltar. Likewise, although Catalan is the official language in Andorra, Spanish is a language spoken by the majority of the people.
The features that are only in Spanish and not in other languages are inverted question “¿” and exclamation “¡” marks. Since the structure of interrogative sentences that can be answered with yes/no, and statements in Spanish are the same, these signs are used to facilitate emphasis when reading a text.
Spanish alphabet consists of 29 letters from “A” to “Z”. Vowels with accents and umlauts are not included in the alphabet.
A B C CH D E F G H I J K L LL M N Ñ O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z a b c ch d e f g h i j k l ll m n ñ o p q r s t u v w x y z
Letters K and W are used only in words that came from foreign languages to Spanish. The Letter C is read as k [kʰ] when it comes before the vowels a, o, u; and it is read as th [θ] as in English when it is before e and i.
The letter CH is pronounced as the letter ç [ʧ] in Turkish.
The letter H is silent, and used only for disambiguation. While the letter J is pronounced as h in Latin America and Southern Spain, it is pronounced as “ch” [x], like the German sound, in Northern Spain. The letter LL is pronounced as y as in Turkish. The letter Ñ is pronounced as ny [ŋ]. The letter V, at the beginning of words and after the letter ‘m’, is pronounced as b. Otherwise, it is read as a sound between the letter v and the letter b in Turkish.
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With 570 million Spanish speakers, 470 million of whom are native, Spanish ranks as the second most spoken language in the world.