I originally wanted to skip Spanish altogether. It wasn’t because I disliked the language, but it was mostly because my familiarity with it almost made reviewing it in the project somewhat useless. If Spanish and I were lovers, we would essentially be in the midst of an intense break-up after a passionate, sizzling affair.
I guess it never hurts to remember what rekindled my interest for it in the first place.
Back in fourth grade, we were introduced to a new subject during our day-long class. An energetic woman named Señora Dora came in and told us about her native language called español. I had read Spanish before, but I had never studied it until this point. I remember her spelling the word español with a squiggly thing that she called a “tilde” and how words had “el” and “la” before them. Being the usual sponge I was at the time, I always tried to be the first to answer her questions, competing with other smarties in my class. I first started memorizing the numbers, then the colors and then eventually full sentences, mimicking Señora Dora’s Cuban accent. After the class was done for the school year, she gave me a book called “Converso Mucho” which nailed my proficiency for years to come. I still peer through it today. The excitement of not only learning something new but learning a new way of understanding has never left me.
Depending on who you talk to, learning Spanish would be extremely practical. It’s either the second or third (or even fourth) most spoken language after Chinese or English (or Hindi). The language evolved from Vulgar Latin, which was essentially spoken or folk Latin used in Europe during the Middle Ages. When Vulgar Latin hit the Iberian peninsula, it had absorbed a lot of Arabic words and an acquired a brand new dialect that became popular throughout the region. The dialect, which at that point was known at castellano, was so admired that in the 1200s King Alfonso of Spain made it the official language for educational and government use. The language continued to spread throughout settlements in the New World by, you guessed it, Christopher Colombus, along with Hernán Cortés, Hernando de Soto and others where it would continue to evolve regionally.
There are three extra letters:
ch as in ch in church
ll as in y in yes
ñ a “nyuh” sound as the ni in onion
*rr; though technically not a letter, many words use it. There is no similar sound in English, it is rolled with the tongue.
Several letters are pronounced differently, specifically the vowels. But the great thing about Spanish is that every letter is only pronounced one way, which makes it easier to say the words, unlike English:
a sounds like the a in father
e sounds like the in met
i sounds like the in see
o sounds like the in hope
u sounds like the u in dude
h is always silent
j sounds like an English h
q as in c in cake
the r is rolled at the beginning of words
Spanish also uses ¿ and ¡ at the beginning of questions and exclamations, respectively.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: If I had absolutely no knowledge of Spanish, I’d say that it would seem roughly familiar. I’m able to understand the language in segments, but not fluently as I had always hoped. However, despite my many attempts in learning the language, it makes me wonder if it really is spoken more quickly than English and if several words are slurred when spoken. My impressions of the language now are roughly similar to Romanian, except that it has more pizazz.
I have also always been somewhat confused by the differences between Castillian Spanish and Latin American Spanish. This would prove to be a great opportunity to compare regional dialects and possibly other factors that separate them. A great video that illustrates this is Spain’s Eurovision entry this past year (I promise, it is a complete coincidence and I am not obsessed with Eurovision) who selected an actor to portray a Latin American character called Rodolfo Chikilicuatre dancing to a Reggaton beat. You’ll either laugh, bop your head or acknowledge the linguistic inquiry I mentioned above: