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Language

Spanish is the native language of 332 million people in the world. In addition to Spain, Spanish is the official language of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. In addition, it is widely spoken in several other nations, including Canada, Morocco, the Philippines, and the United States.

Spanish is one of the Romance languages in the Italic subfamily of the Indo-European language family, and within Spain, and has two major dialects: Andalusian and Castilian. Many other dialects exist in other geographical areas, namely North and South America.

The Spanish language originated in the Southwest region of Europe known as the Iberian Peninsula. Sometime before the end of the 6th century BC, the region's first inhabitants, the Iberians, began to mingle with the Celts, a nomadic people from central Europe. The two groups formed a people called the Celtiberians, speaking a form of Celtic.

Under Roman rule, in 19 BC, the region became known as Hispania, and its inhabitants learned Latin from Roman traders, settlers, administrators, and soldiers. When the classical Latin of the educated Roman classes mixed with the pre-Roman languages of the Iberians, Celts, and Carthaginians, a language called Vulgar Latin appeared. It followed the basic models of Latin but borrowed and added words from the other languages.

Even after the Visigoths, Germanic tribes of Eastern Europe, invaded Hispania in the AD 400s, Latin remained the official language of government and culture until about AD 719, when Arabic-speaking Islamic groups from Northern Africa called Moors completed their conquest of the region. Arabic and a related dialect called Mozarabic came to be widely spoken in Islamic Spain except in a few remote Christian kingdoms in the North such as Asturias, where Vulgar Latin survived.

During the succeeding centuries, the Christian kingdoms gradually reconquered Moorish Spain, retaking the country linguistically as well as politically, militarily, and culturally. As the Christians moved South, their Vulgar Latin dialects became dominant. In particular, Castilian, a dialect that originated on the Northern Central plains, was carried into Southern and Eastern regions.

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