From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Spanish is, after English, the most common language in the United States, spoken by about 27.8 million people (or 10.5% of the population) in 2000. The United States is the fifth country in the world in Spanish-speaking population, outnumbered only by Mexico, Spain, Argentina, and Colombia. The influence of English on American Spanish is very important.
The Spanish language has been in North America since the end of the 15th century brought by Basque sailors to Newfoundland. In 1565, the Spaniards founded St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest, continuously occupied European city in the territory of the United States. Spanish has been spoken in the country (singularly, in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana) since 1803, when Louisiana was sold to the United States and Spanish settlers in that region, descendants of Canary Islanders, turned into citizens of a new country.
After the Mexican-American War, many of the territories in the north of Mexico were lost to the United States. As a consequence of that conquest, both English and Spanish are official languages in New Mexico, and Spanish has been spoken continuously in the northern New Mexico/southern Colorado area and in the Mexican border area from the 19th century.
The rise of Spanish in the United States is a consequence of the Spanish-American War, too: Today, Puerto Ricans are native U.S. citizens and Spanish is the first language of Puerto Rico. Also, there has been a strong immigration from Mexico, Cuba and other Latin American countries in the 20th century.
The Present Time
Hispanics are now the largest minority group in the country, comprising 13.4% of the population (38.6 million people) in 2002. Generally, US Hispanics are bilingual, speaking English as well as Spanish. Although many new arrivals are at various levels of English proficiency, Hispanics who are second-generation American in the United States almost all speak English, but only about 50 percent still speak Spanish. Contrasting to other language minorities such as the French or Chinese, a higher percentage of descendants of Spanish speakers conserve the language due to the existence of mass media in Spanish and a constant influx of immigrants, both of which help to enable a viable environment for living in Spanish.
Some critics have referred to the rise of the Spanish language in the USA, especially in the southern areas bordering Mexico, as the "Amexica" effect. This term blends "America" and "Mexico". Similarly, on the East Coast, they speak of "Nuyorican," blending "New York" and "Puerto Rican". Spanglish is the name for the combination of using Spanish and English together to effectively communicate something.
On the other hand, many words have entered in American English from Spanish. For detailed list of borrowed words, see American English. Also, many places in the country, especially in the southwestern part, have Spanish names:
- area: Llano Estacado, Cape Canaveral
- Cities: Fresno, California, Las Vegas, Nevada, Los Angeles, California, Modesto, California, Palo Alto, California, San Francisco, California, Amarillo, Texas, etc.
- Island: Alcatraz
- Road: El Camino Real
- States: Colorado, Florida and Nevada
- Languages in the United States.
- Bilingual education
- English-only movement
- List of United States cities with a majority Hispanic population