Little Bits of History

Hablo Español

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 16, 2012

Antonio de Lebrija

January 16, 1492: Antonio de Lebrija writes a grammar of Castilian Spanish for Queen Isabella. The book’s title was Gramática de la lengua castellana. Antonio was classically educated and completed his studies at Bologna University in Italy. He returned home to Spain and spread classical learning to his countrymen. At the time, Latin was the language of the educated. His work with the Castilian language was instrumental in the switch from the ancient to the more modern tongue. Gramática is credited with being the first published grammar of any Romance language.

Spanish itself is a dialect of Latin developed on the Iberian Peninsula. The language continues its 1,000 years of evolution even today. Spanish is now the official language of about 20 countries around the world. As Spanish explorers and colonization teams spread outward, they brought their language with them. They also embraced native words, expanding the lexicon. Spanish is spoken in most countries of the Americas, the Philippines, and Equatorial Guinea.

Spanish is a two gender language with conjugated verbs but without noun declension. Two gender languages assign genders to nouns regardless of whether or not the noun can be considered male or female. Another term for this is “noun class.” In Spanish grammar the gender or class of the noun dictates the modifier associated with the noun. There are seven tenses of verbs that mostly correlate with English verbs. The six different Spanish spellings of the tenses tend to confuse English speakers. In each Spanish speaking country, the language has evolved slightly – just as the UK and the US speak different forms of English.

Romance languages are a branch of Indo-European languages that descended from Latin. There are more than 700 million worldwide speakers of Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, or Romanian. These languages evolved from Vulgar Latin or Latin as spoken in the streets – vernacular language – rather than the more formal speech of the educated classes. These languages developed by region but share many properties with each other as well as a vocabulary of Latin-based words. The Romance has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day, but refers to speaking in a Roman manner.

Life is a foreign language; all men mispronounce it. – Christopher Morley

Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain. – Lily Tomlin

The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand. – Lewis Thomas

Language is the source of misunderstandings. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Also on this day:

Prohibition – In 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified.
Hi – In 1964, Hello, Dolly! took Broadway by storm.
Grote Mandrenke – In 1362, a storm tide in the North Sea flood the German city, Rungholt.