¿Castellano o Español?
There's an interesting debate brewing in BBC Mundo this week about Spanish. The debate refers to the word used to refer to the language. Should it be "castellano" or "español". For those of you who have never studied the history of Spanish (the origin) of the language the word "castellano" not only refers to the language but it also refers to the region where Spanish originated which is Castilla in Spain. Once the language began to evolve as an Iberian language with influences from other languages like Italian and Portuguese the word "español' came into usage to refer to what is known today as "el español".
Once again the purists have their say in this and argue that "el español" is not correct because it's not spoken in all regions of Spain exclusively and secondly the word "español" is a gentilicio. I have always struggled with the word gentilicio in English to find an equivalent but it refers to the natives of a particular land. For example Canadians= canadienses, Dominicans= dominicanos, Spaniards =españoles. These words refer to the nationality of a group thus "el gentilicio".
Some linguists say "el castellano" is the term used to refer to the Roman dialect that originated in Castilla during the Middle Ages or is a language that is spoken in that region in particular today. They also state that the term "el español" refers to the end result of that dialect which was enriched by other Iberian languages which is known today as "el español" and is spoken in Spain and Latin America. (I agree with the linguists and their ideology).
In the article it was briefly stated that in some parts of Latin America in the academic sphere the term "castellano" is used over "español". (This is completely true in my experience some of my teachers and professors would never use the word "español". Especially those from Argentina).
Keep in mind you must understand what certain linguistic terms mean. In this case dialect. I have seen some erroneous and individual interpretations of the word dialect in some threads on DR1 that are incorrect. For example Dominican Spanish as a whole is not a dialect. Certain characteristics of Dominican Spanish have dialectal forms (such as the sentence structure and grammatical patterns that are unique to and accepted in the DR and/or Caribbean Spanish). However, Dominican Spanish is not a dialect BUT el cibaeño is because it's a regional variety of a language (Spanish) spoken in the DR. I have discussed this aspect in other threads and I think some of you may have interpreted my posts as saying Dominican Spanish is a dialect. Certain characteristics of Dominican Spanish have dialectal forms.
Here is the link to the article. The debate is on for the week and BBC mundo will reveal the comments when they finish taking submissions. The question BBC Mundo proposed was:
¿Usted qué idioma habla: castellano o español? ¿O acaso considera que ambos términos son sinónimos? (Which language do you speak or perhaps you consider both terms to be synonymous?).
Last edited by Marianopolita; 05-10-2006 at 09:20 PM.
Doesn't Castellano come from the region of Catalunia where they speak Catalan?? if that is so then it should only be used to refer to that type of Spanish or Castellano, if that makes sense?
"Espanol" should be used defenitly in Latin America because as they defined it "Espanol" came after the language acquired all the influence from other languages and here in America many other languages have contributed to our Spanish, like words from the American Indians and lately even English.
I'm surprised to hear that the purist say that "el espanol" is a gentilicio and to us here in America is our language so that's why I say they should used Castellano in Spain and Espanol outside of Spain.
-----ok Chiri I see my overlook. thanks.
Last edited by M.A.R.; 05-10-2006 at 02:46 PM.
Lesley's post specifies that it is Castilla, not Cataluña.
Usage rules here. Both terms are inadequate, one more than the other. I think some Spanish-speaking countries like Argentina call their language 'Castellano' as opposed to 'Español', while (most?) other places prefer the latter.
At least Español, even in the strictest sense of the word covers several types of Spanish, whereas Castellano is just the Spanish spoken in one region of Spain.
Come to think of it, that logic could render 'English' as an unfit name for the language... I wonder how the rest of the anglophone world would react to being told their language should be called 'British'?
More often than not in Colombia and Peru people asked me if I "¿Habla castellano? As a matter of fact, when I first started learning Spanish I was told that I would encounter castellano more often than español in latin America.
M.a.r & Xamaicano-
The first rule of thumb with languages is: don't use the internet as a primary source. Although there are some good links out there the best and authentic references are books or anything in book form. Secondly, wikipedia is known to have errors. If one does not know better s/he will take what is written as gospel. Lastly, they put "castellano" and "español" under the same definition and that is definitely incorrect.
Please read the article from BBC Mundo. What they have stated, a clear distinction of the two based on origin is correct thus sparking the debate.
As I stated in my first post I am pro "español" based on the linguistic definition. I rarely hear Latin Americans refer to Spanish in everyday speech as castellano except those who feel it's prestigious to refer to the language that way. I have heard people say hablo castellano but with "airs" and in a snobby tone. As well, some journalists insist on using the term especially on CNN en español.
Specific to your comment in Latin America it really varies. Some use it as a form of prestige and /or formality.
Last edited by Marianopolita; 05-10-2006 at 08:27 PM.
I'm sorry Lesly I originally didn't read the debate very similar to wikipedia by the way. Ok so what am I missing, as a spanish speaker and not being too familiar with the spanish spoken in Spain my question is, except from reading some novels and watching tv, what is the difference between Espanol and Castellano?
No need to apologize please. This is a friendly discussion.
Just to clarify regarding Wikipedia this definition is accurate for the most part but always check another source to compare. That's just my advice.
In terms of your question that's the whole debate. The language spoken today is the same every where (with regional varieties and differences) but do you refer to the language spoken today as "castellano" o "español"?
Do you understand people from Spain, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chile etc.? I'm sure you do. The differences are regional expressions, slang and in some areas pronunciation but the base language is "español" or "castellano" (according to some).
Exactly. English, using this logic, would be just as embattled a term as Spanish. What is English in fact and whence did it originate? Who speaks it these days? A Punjabi Sikh once told me, with complete seriousness, that Indians spoke the purest English. (Next time you go to a tailor in the States be sure to ask for a "shirting") The English language, like Spanish I guess, is a hybrid, so the purist argument is really moot in my humble opinion. First of all you have the original Saxon. Have you ever seen Saxon (Old English) written? You would think you were reading Icelandic. But Saxon is the original language spoken south of Scotland, and east of Wales. It bears very little relationship to what we call English today. Those other areas, and Ireland, which later become part of the English Empire, were Celtish, just as was Breton in France. Of course Celt and Saxon mingled a bit. Then came the Norman invasion in 1066 and the language took on Latinate terms via French. Later, during Chaucer's time, we get Middle English. The language is still very fluid and changing. Ever see Chaucer written out properly? Again, you wouldnt recognize it entirely as English, though it is beginning to look a bit like it: "Whanne that Aprille with hits shoures sote the droucht of Marche hath perced to the roote . . ." Then on to Elizabethan English, a complete hodge podge of unregulated orthography, grammar and vocabulary.
Originally Posted by Chirimoya
Once the Enlightenment comes along we have the likes of Johnson writing up dictionaries and literally formalizing the rules of English. But that English is still far different from English today. Or American, Or Indian English, Or Jamaican, etc. Language, like culture, if it be alive, is constantly changing. We use the term English, as we do Spanish, for heuristic reasons. It is a useful concept, though imperfect. Spanish is the better term, it seems to me, because it embraces all the countries where the language is spoken, whereas Castellano does not, though it has the honor of being the originary source.
Some responses posted on the BBC-
I read the responses submitted to the BBC as far as page 2. If you have a chance please read some of the responses. They are most interesting and talk about nationalistic views on both sides Europe and Latin America. The two below caught my attention.
"Soy chileno y en mis primeros años de escuela, aprendí el "castellano", luego la contradiccion cuando en el ramo de ingles al idioma castellano se le llama "spanish" o sea español. Para mi no son sinonimos porque en españa existen varias regiones donde el idioma regional es otro distinto al castellano. Esta indefinicion debe corregirse a mi juicio en homenaje a la que la mayoria de la gente que colonizó america era de la region de castilla y nos dejo como herencia esa hermosa lengua desde mexico a argentina".- ivan ortega- pg.1
"El nombre correcto del idioma que hablamos es el español, no el castellano, desde el siglo XI en que el castellano tenia "algo de pureza", esa pureza se fue perdiendo con el devenir de los siglos. "El Canto del Mio Cid" que data del siglo XI, y "El Quijote" del siglo XV, sus expresiones literarias y su prosa en palabras NO SON IGUALES, en la ùltima se denota un mayor cumulo de palabras producto de una combinaciòn de significados sacados del catalan, gallego, vasco, valenciano, arabe, castellano, en fin, con esa mixtura no se puede hablar de un idioma castellano en si, sino de un IDIOMA ESPAÑOL. Por lo tanto, yo voto que el nombre correcto del idioma del cual yo hablo y escribo se llama ESPAÑOL".- SARBELIO R JAIME B - pg.2
The responses above are found on this link --->Debate- responses
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