Spanish originated on the Iberian Peninsula, although it wasn’t known as Spanish at the time. Toward the end of the sixth century before the common era (BCE), a nomadic tribe from central Europe known as the Celts moved into the area, and mixed with the peninsula’s inhabitants, the Iberians. The result was a new people called the Celtiberians, and they spoke a form of the Celtic language.
By the nineteenth century BCE, the region was commonly known as Hispania. The Hispanic people learned Latin from Roman settlers, soldiers, and traders. Soon, a new language formed that was a mixture of classical Latin and the Celtiberian language. This was the beginning of the history of Spanish. The new mixed language closely resembled classical Latin, but also used many words from other languages (it became known as Vulgar Latin).
During the conquest of the former Roman province of Hispania by the Moors (711-1492), many of the country’s residents learned Arabic and eventually spoke it exclusively, but Vulgar Latin survived in certain northern kingdoms still occupied by Christians.
Over the next several centuries, the Christian kingdoms of the north began a crusade called the Reconquista to take back the country and drive the Moors out. As they moved south, they reestablished themselves politically, religiously, and linguistically. Vulgar Latin once again became the dominant language of the peninsula. Today, modern Spanish has approximately 4.000 words with Arabic roots. ¿Quieres saber algunos ejemplos? Almohada (pillow), tambor (drum), albornoz (bath robe), chaleco (vest) o alcalde (mayor).
By the middle of the 13th century, Christians had reclaimed most of the Iberian Peninsula, with one small Moorish realm remaining in the area of Granada. It was at this time that the reigning monarch, King Alfonso X, began moving the country toward adopting a standardized language based on the Castilian dialect. This helped to establish Spanish as the country’s official language.
Today, nearly 500 million people speak Spanish all over the world.