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Wednesday, August 8, 2012 (read 998 times)

Spanish: the world’s 2nd language

by Laura

With official language status in 21 countries, 400 million native speakers and 100 million non-native speakers, Spanish language is undoubtedly on the up. In the USA, which claims to be so liberal as not to have an “official language”, Spanish language shares the position of Language of Legislation in 4 states; the governments of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas all demanding that the legislative documents of the state be written in both English and Spanish. But aside from those numerous communities of Spanish speakers – namely Mexico and those heavily populated countries of South America (whose mass migration to the USA has considerably influenced the statistic of 12.5% native Spanish speakers attributed to that country), and, of course, Spain – Spanish language and its speakers, perhaps because of these numbers, has found new monumental importance.

The title of second language is particularly prestigious not because it suggests something of a silver medal position behind another language (which would presumably be English) but rather because, since at least one language is known to all people, that second language spoken is the most common other language spoken: the first foreign language. Without delving too far into the potentially redundant analysis of arbitrary numbers and figures, I intend to show that Spanish far outweighs Mandarin (the bronze medallist in this event) in terms of influence and perhaps might soon contend with the olympic propagation of English across the world.

But English has certainly reached its peak; the majority of conversations, they say, are made between in English between two non-native speakers. However, where Spanish supersedes is in the fact that whilst the number of native Spanish speakers already exceeds that of English speakers, the number of people who learn or speak Spanish as a second language is  at the same time rapidly on the increase. The increasing popularity is noticeably evident in the UK where, although traditionally French has always been the second language (maintaining a tie between the two countries whose histories have been somewhat intertwined since the Norman Conquest), Spanish, in many schools that only teach one language, is replacing French; and even where the two languages aren’t mutually exclusive, Spanish proves to be more and more the preferred choice. And it is here that Spanish at least decimates Mandarin, since I am certain that no fewer than 9 in 10 choose to learn Spanish over Mandarin; of course, such statements are made in the vanity of time.

Perhaps the larger range and greater exoticism of holiday destinations within the Hispanophone realm is the reason. Or perhaps, and more seriously, the years of Hispanic immigration to the USA and their current growth and influence is what provides the explanation. However Spanish language reached its current position of the world’s second language, it remains in question as to where the language is going from here.

Keywords: Spanish, Spanish language, learn Spanish, learning language, speak Spanish


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