Is Spanish expanding?

Informer   Tue Dec 16, 2008 3:18 pm GMT
"World language" Spanish threatened in Spain

Madrid - While Spanish is consolidating its position as one of the world's most international languages, a debate is raging in Spain on whether it is under attack in the country where it was born.

A group of intellectuals, some media outlets and citizens' associations have launched a campaign in 'defence' of Spanish which they see as being endangered in regions promoting their own languages in the country with a plural identity.

The debate focuses on whether parents wanting to educate their children only or mainly in Spanish should be able to do so in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, the Basque region and Galicia, which want pupils to learn Catalan, Basque or Galician alongside Spanish.

The pro-Spanish campaigners stress the role of Spanish - known in Spain as Castilian, language of the region of Castile - as the only language common to all Spaniards and as one of the cornerstones of the national identity.

The idea that a language spoken by 500 million people worldwide could be threatened by minority languages is nothing short of ridiculous, regionalists hit back.

Spoken in most of Latin America, Spanish is the second most important language in the United States.

It is also studied increasingly worldwide, making it the most widely used language after Mandarin Chinese, Hindi and English, according to Culture Minister Cesar Antonio Molina.

In Spain itself, however, regional governments are questioning the domination of Spanish in an attempt to promote regional languages.

These include Catalan, spoken widely in Catalonia, a north-eastern region of 7 million residents, and on the Balearic Islands; Basque, spoken by about a quarter of the region's 2.1 million residents; and Galician, the first language of more than 60 per cent of the region's 2.8 million inhabitants.

Catalan and Galician are Romance languages related to Spanish, while Basque or Euskera is not known to be related to any other language and is much more difficult for Spanish-speakers to learn.

Dictator Francisco Franco, who ruled from 1939 to 1975, repressed the use of regional languages which could often not even be spoken in public.

Franco's death in 1975 turned the tide. The constitution now establishes the coexistence of regional languages with Spanish. Regions enjoy wide measures of autonomy including the right to teach regional languages in schools.

Some now see the decentralization as having gone too far, with Catalonia and Galicia having made bilingual education compulsory and the Basque region preparing to adopt a similar policy.

Policies to promote regional languages are the most extensive in Catalonia, where the regional government is sparking controversy with plans to cut down the number of Spanish classes from three to two a week in primary school.

Even children of immigrants from Latin America or Africa now speak Catalan, a language without the knowledge of which it is often difficult to find a job in the region.

Educational and other measures to popularize regional languages sparked a 'manifesto for the common language' launched by some 20 journalists, philosophers, historians and authors including Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru.

Parents' associations have also sprung up in several regions, demanding the right to educate children in Spanish.

The most vocal critics include representatives of the opposition conservative People's Party (PP), which has also accused Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialists of endangering national unity by granting regions more self-government.

Madrid media close to the PP accuse Zapatero of allowing regionalists to 'persecute' the national language, something that the government firmly denies.

The coexistence of Spanish with other languages was 'the richest, most open and most democratic' way, the premier said.

The government has done a lot to make Spanish more popular in the world, establishing dozens of new Cervantes Institutes to spread it, Molina said.

Some experts worry that Catalan or Basque children will speak poor Spanish after learning it mainly from television and stress the right of parents to make educational choices for their children.

Children in some Catalan schools reportedly have trouble expressing themselves in Spanish.

Overall, however, there are few signs that teaching regional languages would have undermined the Catalans', Basques' or Galicians' knowledge of Spanish and regionalists dismiss such arguments as absurd.

'If any language is threatened, it is not Spanish, but Catalan,' Catalan politician Josep Antoni Duran y Lleida said, attributing the language row to underlying political power struggles.
Geostrategist   Tue Dec 16, 2008 4:02 pm GMT
To me , the strongest point of Spanish is that it does not depend on the fortune of one concrete country unlike French in relation to France. If France falls into disgrace, also the French language does but Spanish is more distributed so if one Spanish country fails, the others may be lucky. For example when Spain was much poorer than Latin America, Argentina and Uruguay had splendid economies and the Spanish language continued being important. Buenos Aires was the epicenter of the Spanish press industry. French also has Quebec, but it's too small in terms of population, only 5.9 millions so French relies fundamentally on France. On the other hand, let's suppose Spanish dissapears in Spain , this fact would not alter substantially the international status of the Spanish language, even more, due to the chaos teory this probably would lead to an increase of its usage in Brazil, or who knows, maybe in Philippines. In the end peple around the world study Spanish because of its importance in Latin America, not in Europe. The problem of French is that it is mainly reduced to a language spoken in France. Despite France is a solid country, it's not good to put all the eggs in the same nest.
I   Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:29 pm GMT
<<The idea that a language spoken by 500 million people worldwide>>

Yes even you agree ;)

<<Spoken in most of Latin America, Spanish is the second most important language in the United States. >>

eastlander   Tue Dec 16, 2008 7:21 pm GMT
Catalan and Occitan are very similar (Prouvencal less) languages,one influenced by French,another influenced by Spanish (Castillian).
Galician is a dialect of Portuguese.Basque is related to Caucasian languages(Georgian etc.).
Promiscuous.   Tue Dec 16, 2008 7:44 pm GMT
Basque was believed to be related to Caucasian languages, but scholars realized that it is not true. The problem of Basque is that it's a damn old language spoken in southern France and North Spain since many thousands of years ago and nobody can find solid ties between Basque other language families. Hence it remains as an isolated language.
Möchter   Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:41 pm GMT
Galician is a dialect of Portuguese.//////

It is not (anymore).
Just like Dutch is not a dialect of German (anymore).
Qwirty   Tue Dec 16, 2008 10:13 pm GMT
<<due to the chaos teory this probably would lead to an increase of its usage in Brazil, or who knows, maybe in Philippines.>>

Lol. Due to the chaos theory the earth will turn into a giant egg and your mum will hatch out of it, spelling the end of mankind.

French could just as easily become learn due to its importance in Africa rather than France, although maybe further along the road.
Usuario   Tue Dec 16, 2008 10:33 pm GMT
The answer is YES.

If children are educated in Spain in Spanish and the Regional language (Basque, Catalan, Galician) is good, because they know at least 2 languages.

The question is other: Spanish is more spoken than 50 years ago and in more territories?

Yes, of course. It is spoken by 500 million people in areas where 50 years ago WAS NOT SPOKEN.

For example, in USA was not so spoken than nowadays. Even in some States nobody spoke it. Now is not only spoken in New Mexico or Texas, it is also very spoken in Illinois, New Jersey and New York. In almost all the States is the second language.

Brazil is another example. It is probably the second language of Brazil and a compulsory subject at school. It will be also compulsory in Philippines next year.

Other interesting example is Trinidad y Tobago. The official language is English. In 2025, the second official language will be also Spanish, according to the Government.

In Europe, nobody studied Spanish 50 years ago. At this moment, Spanish is the second most studied in UK, after French. In France, the same (the second after English). It is also very studied in all European Union.

According to several sources is very studied in several African countries, like Senegal or Cote d'Ivore. In Asia is very studied in countries like Israel or Japan. Finally is also one of the most studied languages in Australia and New Zeland.

How many languages can say that they are expanding nowadays?

One of them is Spanish.
Franco   Tue Dec 16, 2008 10:45 pm GMT
<<If children are educated in Spain in Spanish and the Regional language (Basque, Catalan, Galician) is good, because they know at least 2 languages.>>
Yes and no. Learning some Catalan is good, but it's not good to teach almost everything in Catalan because children lose their abilities in Spanish. Look at some Spanish broadcast TVE reporters. Those who are Catalans, since they were educated in Catalan, do not master Spanish. They commit strange mistakes. For example yesterday one of them was commenting on the snowfalls and instead of saying "la cota de nieve" she said " la cuota de nieve". Also I heard to one of them saying "aragonesos" instead of "aragoneses". If they want to study in Catalan , nice, but they would better stick to Catalan broadcast TV3 and don't try working in national TVE because they are ridiculous with their poor knowledge of Spanish. They think that can learn professional Spanish in six months and they are wrong , they don't master Spanish well and this is a critic skill if you want to make a career in a nationwide broadcast company like TVE, Tele 5, etc.
Guest   Tue Dec 16, 2008 10:58 pm GMT
The question is interesting. How many international languages are expanding nowadays?

I think that only 4 of them: English, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic.

All other languages are spoken in the same countries and territories than 50 years ago.
Yeshua   Tue Dec 16, 2008 11:01 pm GMT
English is stable, not expanding.
Blavatsky   Tue Dec 16, 2008 11:05 pm GMT
French is spoken in other planets and is spreading there.
Guest   Tue Dec 16, 2008 11:15 pm GMT
Not exactly.

English is now official in other countries or territories, like Dutch Antilles.

It is now also official in some "French" African countries like Madagascar, Burundi, Rwanda, etc. It is also semiofficial or at least the most studied language in almost all countries on Earth.

So, English is also spreading, and very fast...
Guest   Tue Dec 16, 2008 11:21 pm GMT
Arabic is also very important nowadays. It is official in more countries than ever. Now it is also official in Eritrea and Somalia. So, It is spoken from North Morocco to North Kenya. Even it is official in Comores. It is very studied also in all Central Africa, Central Asia, Iran, Pakistan, etc.

It is also studied in all muslim schools around the World. So, 1 billion people have at least a basic knowledge of Arabic
shiv   Wed Dec 17, 2008 2:35 am GMT
I agree with most above statements about the expansion of languages.

English continues to gradually expand (overall use, presence, popularity, students, natives)

Spanish has made progress and is a popular language to study and has a large native population.

Chinese is growing in popularity among students and has the largest native population.

Arabic is growing mainly because of natives. Although many students in parts of the world study it, the problem is that Arabic is a macrolanguage with regional dialects that are usually not understood by other speakers. To my knowledge, the modern standard version is not always common or useful in practical communication.

Russian is sadly not in a good situaiton. Most importantly, Russia faces a huge demographic problem. It is still popular or required in ex-Soviet countries, but it shows little progress in expanding beyond them as a popular studied language (at least now).

French, I don't know for sure and I don't want to start a fight. French natives may be gradually increasing in Europe and Africa, but the numbers are still relatively low compared to the other languages. As far as students go, English (not Spanish) is still the biggest threat to French popularity and usefulness, so only the Future will tell.

Portuguese may make progress depending on Brazil.

Hindi has the crippling effect English in India, which makes it less necessary for foreigner to learn Hindi.