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5 Interesting Facts About the Spanish Language

1. Before 1994 the Real Academia Española officially had CH and LL as letters in the Spanish alphabet. Many people today still say them when reciting the alphabet (“a, b, c, ch, d, e…”). The combinations of the letters C + H and L + L make two unique sounds different than their individual parts alone. These two digraphs used to come up in dictionaries as letters of their own. This is not the case anymore. Words that begin with CH are found in the letter C in dictionaries and words that begin with LL are found in the letter L.

2. Every time we say the word “ojalá” (hopefully), we are actually invoking Allah. “Ojalá” has derived from the expression “in sha'a Allah” in Arabic. Spanish has inherited 4,000 Arabic words from the time of the Arabic domination of the Iberian Peninsula (from the 8th to the 15th century), that represent 8% of our current vocabulary.

3. The diacritical mark of the "ñ" was originally a regular “n” that was placed on top of another “n”. With time it flatted out until it reached the shape we know today, called “virgulilla”, becoming one of the most distinctive elements of Spanish. Similar sounds exist in many other languages: “gn” in Italian (as in gnocchi), “nh” in Portuguese (as a diminutive suffix: i.e, Ronaldinho), “ny” in English (as in canyon), etc.

4. The word “oía” (she/he heard) has as many syllables as letters, three!

5. Spanish, like English, is a global language. In fact, it is an official language in almost all of the world’s continents. Europe has Spain, Africa has Equatorial Guinea, the Americas have over twenty Spanish speaking countries, Asia up until 1973 had the Philippines (since then Spanish is no longer an official language in this country), and Oceania has Easter Island.

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* I’m a Spanish teacher based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since 2007 I have been teaching Spanish to people from all over the world. Whether looking for an online Spanish tutor, or in person while visiting Buenos Aires, please reach out to me with any questions you might have! *
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