The History of Spanish Language in Latin America

Understanding the origin of the Spanish language is essential to recognizing the subtle differences in the Spanish spoken in different regions. In the 15th century, Christopher Columbus sailed to the Americas and brought with him the Castilian Spanish language. As a result of what scholars refer to as “hispanización”, Spanish was established as a primary language in the region.

During the early stages of what is referred to as “hispanización”, there were many challenges, as the local languages were starkly different, making communications difficult. Until the Catholic Church stepped in, it was unclear whether Spanish would survive in the region. Hence, the Catholic Church was instrumental in the expansion of the use of Spanish in the region. In particular, the Jesuits and Franciscans established learning intuitions to teach children Catholicism in Spanish. As the children and adolescents grew, the Spanish language started to spread and expand. As Catholicism grew, so did the use of the Spanish language as the primary form of communication.

Despite the efforts of the Spaniards to impose the language on the natives, the sheer dominance in numbers caused the language to blend with the local dialects. In particular, Mexican and Peruvian natives were able to significantly influence the language spoken today in Latin America.

Certain influences from Spanish explorers from Andalusia helped shape the pronunciation of Latin American Spanish versus Castilian Spanish. This is why certain words in Castilian Spanish and Latin American Spanish sound quite different even with identical spellings. The combination of all of these historical and sociological events has caused the evolution of the distinct form of Latin American Spanish spoken today in Central and South America.

Latin American Spanish

In Latin America, the Spanish language has variants or dialects in the different zones it is spoken because of the magnitude of the territory, as well as different histories. We can observe the development of different variants of Latin American Spanish in the different geographical areas: Amazonian, Bolivian, Caribbean, Central American, Andean, Chilean, Colombian, Ecuadorian, Mexican, Northern Mexican, Paraguayan, Peruvian, Puerto Rican and Argentine.

The History of the Spanish Language

The History of the Spanish Language in Spain