A common question from students is whether there is any difference between Spanish and Castellano, or Castilian as it is more commonly called in English, so in this blog we aim to answer that question. To do so, we need to explain a little bit about the origins of Spanish as it is spoken today.
As we already know, Spanish is largely derived from Latin. Latin came into usage in the region around 2,000 years ago, during Roman times. As typically happens when languages cross borders, it absorbed some of the vocabulary of the indigenous languages in use at the time and in that process became Vulgar Latin.
Several dialects of Vulgar Latin existed throughout the Iberian Peninsula, but it was the one spoken in the north-central part of Spain – an area which includes Castile – which spread throughout the whole region. Castilian’s position was cemented in the 13th century during the reign of King Alfonso when its use for translation of historical documents saw it become the standard dialect used in education. He also made it the official language for government administration.
The spread of Castilian did not, however, lead to the extinction of other dialects. Other ‘languages’ of Latin derivation, like Galician and Catalan, are still widely spoken today. The non-Latin Basque dialect is also spoken by a minority. As all of these languages are themselves Spanish in origin, the term Castilian, or Castellano, is often used to differentiate standard Spanish from these other dialects. You are therefore likely to hear the word Castellano used to refer to the ‘pure’ Spanish which is endorsed by the Royal Spanish Academy.
You can discover Castellano for yourself by enrolling for our Private Spanish Lessons at home or at work throughout the London area.