The Influences on the Spanish Language

Spanish is based on Latin but since Roman times many other cultures have left their mark on the language. The Arabic-speaking Muslims that once ruled over the Iberian Peninsular contributed more than 1,000 words to the Spanish vocabulary. A great deal of terms were also adopted from nativer American languages, not to mention the modern loanwords from English.

The Spanish language, as we know it today, is derived from a non-standard form of Latin — known as Vulgar Latin — that was once spoken in the north-central area of the Iberian Peninsula. Such is the influence of Vulgar Latin on the Spanish language that it accounts for about seventy-five percent of the Spanish lexicon.Since the Roman times, the language has developed for over thousand years, expanding first south to the Mediterranean Sea, and soon after to the Spanish colonial empire. During this development process the civilizations that ruled over the Iberian Peninsula (Visigoths and Arabic-speaking Muslims), the contact with a wide variety of native American and Philippine languages, and the recent borrowings from modern languages have shaped the Spanish language.

The Visigoths lived in Spain for three centuries. However, Visigothic — an East Germanic language — had a limited influence on the Spanish language. Only a few military words were adopted (e.g. guardián “guardian”, from Visigothic wardjan). The Arabic-speaking Muslims, on the other hand, had a greater influence. According to the etymological dictionary Diccionario crítico etimológico castellano e hispánico over 1,000 words of the Spanish language have an Arabic origin, covering several fields such as law, chemistry, mathematics, architecture and astronomy.

After the reconquista, the first Spanish settlers began to arrive in America, where they entered into contact with native American languages. As a result, new words were integrated into the Spanish vocabulary, such asguacamoleawakamolli, which comes from awakatl “avocado” + molli “sauce”, from Nahuatl; cóndor “condor”,kuntur, from Quechua; or canoa “canoe”, canaoua, from Carib. When the Spanish conquistadores arrived in the Philippines they caused a great linguistic impact and, although most of the loanwords were from Spanish into the Philippine languages, a few Philippine words made it into the Spanish dictionary — pantalán “wooden pier”, frompantalán, and tuba “palm wine”, from tuba, are some of them.

Finally, during the modern times, Spanish has borrowed words and expressions from different European languages such as French (chófer “chauffeur”, from chauffeur), Hungarian (coche “car”, from kocsi), German (brindis “toast, as a call to a gathering of people to raise their glasses and drink together”, from bring dir’s) and, of course, English (tráiler “trailer”, digitalizar “digitalize”, etc.)

Taken from Translations Lisko: 24.08.11