The Spanish language is largely responsible for making Spain famous across the world. There are a lot of people who speak Spanish (or Castilian Spanish) all throughout the world. The different dialects of Spanish spoken today all have their roots in the Spanish spoken in Spain but have evolved through the centuries to become their own unique languages. Spain’s national language is Castilian Spanish.
However, the cultural diversity of Spain’s different regions means that many more languages are recognized as co-official. Spain is proud of its cultural variety, which includes several distinct regional languages such as Basque (Euskera), Galician, and Catalan. Castilian Spanish is the state language; however, it is not the only language spoken there.
Many of these languages in Spain were suppressed during the era of Franco’s tyranny. However, since the advent of democracy in Spain, many regional languages have seen a renaissance. These languages are now recognized and valued by all segments of the Hispanic population as valid forms of communication.
Top 5 most spoken languages in Spain
Here is a rundown of the most spoken languages in Spain, in descending order, to help answer the issue of how many languages are spoken there:
- Castilian Spanish
1. Castilian Spanish
More than 45 million people in Spain are native speakers of Castilian, the country’s official language. Sometimes, the term “Castilian” is used to distinguish the Spanish spoken in Spain from the Latin American Spanish variation. Therefore, Castilian is spoken across the entirety of Spain.
Castilian Spanish (also “Spanish” or “Castellano”) is the official language of Spain. Since the eighth century, speakers of this Latin-derived language have been communicating in this area.
Castilian Spanish is derived from the spoken varieties of Madrid, Toledo, and Seville in central and northern Spain. It’s crucial to know that Castilian Spanish and Latin American forms of Spanish are different, so if you’re fluent in one but not the other, you should study up before visiting Spain.
Castilian Spanish is one of Europe’s most frequently used languages, with an estimated 86% of Spaniards using it as their native tongue.
Catalan is spoken in the northeastern regions of Catalonia and Andorra, where it serves as the official language. Catalan is spoken by around 4.6 million people, including those in neighboring French regions and the Valencian Community, where it is more often known as Valencian. Catalan is descended from a Romance language and retains about 85% of its vocabulary.
Catalan, one of Spain’s official languages, has been in use since the first decade of the Christian era (10th century AD). Catalan, Valencian, and the Balearic Islanders all speak this Romance language. About 16% of the population of Spain is believed to have Catalan as their first language.
Because of its Roman origins, it is quite similar to both French and Portuguese. Until the 19th century, Catalan was not recognized as a separate language but rather as a dialect of either French or Occitan (also known as Provençal).
Catalan Spanish differs from Castilian Spanish in that it was influenced by French, Italian, and Arabic. Catalan is spoken all across Catalonia, and each region has its own distinct dialect and accent that contributes to the language’s rich aural landscape.
However, many people now view Catalan as a distinct variety of Spanish, so it’s a good idea to brush up on the language before traveling to Catalan-speaking regions.
Galician is spoken in the northwest part of Spain and is the regional language spoken there. It is also a Romance language, but it is distinct from other varieties of Spanish in that it is mutually intelligible with Portuguese as a result of the medieval union between Galicia and Portugal. In the autonomous community of Galicia, where 2.6 million people live, Galician is spoken as a first language.
The region of northwest Spain bordering Portugal is where you’ll hear the most native Galician speakers. It shares many similarities with Portuguese in terms of syntax, vocabulary, and accent, although it is different within the Romance language family.
There is a lengthy documented history of the Galician language that spans several centuries. Galician is widely considered an official language in Spain, although the government has yet to officially acknowledge it because of its close resemblance to Portuguese.
The Basque language is widely spoken in Basque Country, which lies in northern Spain. It is the only language spoken in Spain that has no connection to the Romance languages and is occasionally referred to by that name. Even older than Latin, the European language known as Euskara shares no common ancestor with any other language. Roughly 900,000 individuals can claim Basque as their first language.
The Basque language (also known as Euskara) is unusual in that it is not related to any other language at all, not even Latin or Iberian like many other Romance languages are.
Originally spoken only in the Basque Country, which spans northern Spain and southern France, the Basque language is thousands of years old. Its origins have been traced back over 5000 years, making it one of Europe’s oldest surviving languages.
Also, depending on where in Northern Spain you happen to be, you could hear one of three distinct varieties of Basque.
Despite the fact that just 6% of Spaniards consider Basque to be their native tongue, the language continues to play a significant role in Spanish society and culture.
It is hard to imagine now, but for hundreds of years, Arabic was the most widely spoken language on the Iberian Peninsula.
Islamic invaders dominated much of what is now Spain and Portugal in the seventh century. The area, which eventually took on the name Al-Andalus, was incredibly prosperous at its height.
It has been nearly 500 years since the fall of al-Andalus, yet the influence of that time period is still visible in the Spanish language through terms like “almohada” (cushion) and “naranja” (orange).
Arabic is once again one of Spain’s most widely spoken languages nowadays. It is spoken by a growing number of Moroccan immigrants living in Spain and by the majority of the people of the Spanish enclave of Ceuta.
The Spanish language has a long and storied history, dating back to the time when numerous smaller kingdoms joined to become the Kingdom of Spain.
During the Muslim attack on the Iberian Peninsula, Arabic and surrounding Romance languages also had an impact. Spain’s celebrated language variety is a true reflection of the country’s multifaceted culture.