All languages have their quirks and unusual aspects and Spanish is no exception. Even though it’s one of the world’s best-known languages, you may find the following nine facts surprising. You probably know that Spanish like other Romance languages has its roots in Latin and that it’s widely spoken in the world, but I’m sure you weren’t aware of exactly how many people speak it. Or the longest word. Or even how long the experts say it takes to learn the language proficiently. Read to discover 9 surprising things about Spanish.
Spanish is an official language on five continents
Think Spanish speakers and Spain and Latin America are probably the first places that come to mind. But did you know that Spanish is the official language in Equatorial Guinea on the west coast of Africa? That it’s the main language spoken on Easter Islands in Oceania? And even in the Antarctic, Spanish is the official lingua franca at the Argentinean base of Fortín Sargento Cabral and the Chilean Villa La Estrella?
Spanish is a phonetic language
Pronunciation is a stumbling block for most language learners, but Spanish has the advantage of being phonetic. To put it simply, you pronounce and spell Spanish words exactly as they’re written. That said, you still have to learn how to say the letters and that’s no easy task especially when it comes to the throaty ‘g’ and ‘j’ and the rolling double ‘r’.
Did you know?
With my personalised tuition, you’ll receive one-to-one pronunciation classes. We’ll practise rolling our rs together and you’ll soon be able to say ‘Un burro comía berros y el perro se los robó, el burro lanzó un rebuzno, y el perro al barro cayó”. And word perfect. Get in touch for more information.
Spanish has 88,000 words
Or at least according the Spanish Royal Academy (RAE in Spanish) who are the experts and official watchdogs for the language. That makes a long list of vocabulary to learn… But take heart – students of English have a potential vocabulary of 350,000 words!
Spanish is the world’s second most spoken language
Who speaks the language is another of the surprising things about Spanish. Over 410 million people in the world speak Spanish bringing it into second place after Mandarin. Mexico is currently the country with most Spanish speakers, but the big Latino influence in North America means that the US will overtake Mexico by 2050.
Spanish is the world’s fastest language
If you thought Spanish people spoke quickly, you’re right. An extensive study revealed that Spanish is the fastest language in the world. The research found that the average person speaking Spanish gets the most number of syllables in per second. (And you’ll have noticed that they speak even quicker in Malaga 😉.)
Did you know?
The Andalusian accent can be a challenge to understand and yes, the locals do speak extremely quickly. I live and work in Malaga but have a neutral accent, so you’ll find my Spanish easy to follow. Find out more about me here.
The longest word in Spanish
This turns out to be one you’ll probably never have to use unless you pursue a career in medicine. Electroencefalografista – aka the person who takes reading from brain scans – is officially the longest word in Spanish, a full 23 letters and a tongue-numbing 10 syllables. It is, however, relatively short compared to some words in other languages such as German and Welsh.
The most used letters
Appropriately for español and España, the letter ‘e’ takes the prize as the most common letter in Spanish. It comes up 16.78% of the time. Next is the ‘o’ with almost 12%, followed by the ‘l’ at 8.69% and the ‘s’ at 7.88%.
Double questions and exclamations
Next up in our list of surprising things about Spanish looks at the question mark and exclamation mark. When you’re writing a question in Spanish or exclaiming about something, you need to punctuate at the beginning and end of the sentence. A question gets an upside-down question mark ¿ at the beginning and a regular one ? at the end. ¿Sorprendido? (Surprised?) And the same applies to exclamation marks – ¡ at the start and ! at the end. ¡Claro! (Of course!)
The US government classes Spanish as a Category 1 language, along with several other European languages like Italian and Danish. That makes it one of the easiest to learn in the world. 24 weeks is what it takes to reach proficiency in Spanish, the equivalent of 600 hours. Again, take heart – students of Arabic, Chinese and Japanese need 88 weeks!
Did you know?
Learning Spanish with me goes at your pace. If you want or need to learn it quicker, we move faster. If there’s no rush, then we’re not in a hurry. Learning Spanish with Sandrateach Malaga is all about classes that suit you and your requirements. Contact me to find out more.