2 Vote

I don't understand why there are so many different forms of Spanish spoken in Spain especially given it's only one country?

  • Please remember that correct spelling and capitalization are mandatory on this site, welcome to the forum:) - 00494d19 Jun 2, 2011 flag

8 Answers

8 Vote

It is simple: because it is the natural thing to expect!

Early human settlements created different languages in different locations. Although we can only guess about this variety, we can look at countries like Papua New Guinea, with over 850 languages (14% of all the languages of the planet) for 6 million inhabitants, or the Arnhem Land (in Australia), which used to have over 250 languages for a population of about 20,000 people (nowadays there are only a couple of dozen languages still strong), and a similar picture can be found in the Caucasus, many parts of Africa, Indonesia (over 700), Latin America (over 250 in Mexico and 80 in Colombia), Brazil (with over 180), etc. Even in USA there are over 160 native languages still spoken by minorities.

Languages becomes official over large areas because a group of people become the dominant one, and the language is imposed by force, or it is required to do business and trade with the group in power, or the culture simply overwhelm the others. Our ability to be in touch with the rest of the world is also contributing to displace languages of people without the money and the resources to reach enough audience.

By the 10th century, in Spain there were many different dialects and languages: Catalan, Mozarabic dialects, Galician-Portuguese, Astur-Leonese dialects, Navarro-Aragonese, Castilian and Basque, which is totally unrelated to the rest (or Latin). Galician-Portuguese split into the modern Portuguese and Galician (spoken in Spain). The Castilian dialect was only spoken in a small region called the kingdom of Castilla, in the north of Spain. This kingdom began to expand its territories, until it became the largest one, and eventually, it was chosen as the official language, although it was never influential enough to completely displace all other dialects and languages, which are still used nowadays. If we all spoke the same, the question would be: how did Castilian manage to wipe out all other dialects and languages?

  • castilian is the same as castellano right? - jryan14ify Jun 2, 2011 flag
3 Vote

Have you traveled around the United States much and noticed how many varieties of English we speak? My wife, from Virginia, went to graduate school in Atlanta, Georgia. She had to translate for two classmates, one from Long Island, New York and the other from Charleston, South Carolina. I'd be more amazed if everyone in a country as big as Spain spoke the same exact language.

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You should take a look at what is going on in America right now. We have a huge variety of Spanish being spoken. A lot of times I speak to people from up to 6 different countries in a single day, which is a beautiful thing.

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A lay response, not having studied history, sociology, psychology, etymology or languages in any depth:

Implicit in your question is that you would expect either Spanish in Spain to be uniform or far less varied. One could suppose that you imagine (relative) uniformity of language in many, most or all countries, Spain not standing out as particularly distinct from countries in general.

Many things affect language and the development of language - the influence of other languages and dialects from invasions, conquests, travel and trade, the need to describe one's environment, memes born of current goings on, new technologies and ways of thought, I'm sure the list is much longer. Given that human beings world-wide communicate using many different languages, and the variation across the globe in the ways in which we communicate is vast, why suppose that you would find relative uniformity within a country?

You must have noticed, within your native tongue, variations in speech across age groups, geographies and social groups. Given that until recently, most people would not have travelled more than a handful of miles from the place that they were born, i.e. groups of people were relatively isolated, can we not conclude that a wide variation in accents, language and dialects is to be expected?

Welcome to the forum.

1 Vote

In the ancient times, Romans conquered most of the mediterranean world, included the iberic Peninsula, and imposed their language: the latin. When the Roman empire fall and Middle Ages began, the latin began to change gradually throughout Europe, giving birth to dozens of new languages and dialects, such as Italian, Spanish, French, Rumanian, Portuguese, and so on.

Only In the iberic Peninsula, the decadence of the latin gave rise to regional versions spoken in the distinct areas of the Peninsula: Galicia, Valencia. Andalucía, Castilla, León...

In the 15th century, the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, ruled by Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabel of Castile, the Catholic Monarchs, became more powerful than the rest. Eventually, these kingdoms subjected the rest to their domain, and formed a nation-state called Spain, and imposed their local dialect, el castellano, as a national language.

Like the rest of the nation-states, Spain promoted the unification of the language, now called Spanish. But, despite their efforts, local versions of vulgar latin didn´t vanish.

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Spain? There are regional variations and three languages if you include Basque, but think of the Netherlands where I was born. Two languages, and a good ten dialects. In one show I watch on Beeline TV for free, they have a soapy called "Van jonge leu en oale groond" in which they use subtitles to translate the dialect into received Dutch! The dialect is spoken in Overyssel and Gelderland, two adjoining provinces.

  • Basque is not a regional variation. Hindi is closer to Spanish than Basque! - lazarus1907 Jun 2, 2011 flag
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Spain? There are regional variations and three languages if you include Basque,

Not so unusual in other countries either, Switzerland, I think they must have four official languages at least.

However, what is weird, is that there are people against speaking Spanish in our country and the official language , Spanish, is not even "allowed" in some parts of the country.

I mean, if you label "only" (rolleyes ) in Spanish in Cataluña, they fine you. This is so ridiculous I have no words. Trust me.

  • It does seem to be getting worse - lagartijaver Jun 2, 2011 flag
  • I have heard that during the dictatorship of Franco it was ilegal and punished to speak catalán. So they must be resented. - LuisCache Jun 2, 2011 flag
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Why are there so many different forms of Spanish spoken in the one country?

I'm actually more curious about which dialect of English puts the word "the" there like that.

  • I'd not say that is dialectical, by saying one, they are being specific about the one country that they are referring to, and referencing the fact that they have previously mentioned the country to which they refer. - afowen Jun 2, 2011 flag
  • I'd say that it is much more common to either say "one country" or "the country", and that saying "the one country" is dangerously close to using two articles for one noun in that particular usage. - lorenzo9 Jun 2, 2011 flag
  • Seems odd to me. Not common in any of the American English dialects with which I am familiar. - samdie Jun 2, 2011 flag
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