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Is There Just One Spanish Language?

Most of the time, languages tend to be named after the demonym of their country of origin. However, in many cases this results in a generalization that excludes other native languages from the same country; languages that are perhaps spoken by fewer people, but which are no less valid.

Spanish is an excellent example of this. When we refer to Spanish as a language, we are actually referring more specifically to Castilian, which is the official language of Spain. Despite the predominance of Castilian, other languages are spoken in Spain that have their own history and appeal, such as Galician, Catalan (or Valencian), Aranese, and Euskara (or Basque), among others, which leads use to ask ourselves the following questions: What do Spaniards who don’t speak Castilian think when they are referred to as “Spanish?” Have they lost their right to be Spanish since they don’t speak the official language? Additionally, Castilian has been influenced by other languages, such as Arabic for example, following centuries of Moorish occupation in the region.

A similar situation is how the United States is referred to by many as “America.” This situation is a bit complicated because the “United States of America” may be considered a description rather than a name, and just like “non-Castilian” Spaniards, Americans from countries other than the United States may, in some manner feel excluded, since just one country ended up with the name of the entire continent!

Perhaps we shouldn’t be so “sensitive,” however, to the generalized manner in which languages or places get their names, because in the end, the result is the same: globalization is a rapid process and there isn’t always room for specifics. However, it is always nice of course to learn about the entire history and circumstances of these situations when we have time.