Spanish, as you know, is not the only official language in Spain. According to the Spanish Constitution, Spanish is the official language of the State, but in some communities, there is another co-official language, that is, as official as Spanish. These languages are Basque, Galician, and Catalan.
Basque or Euskera
It is the co-official language in the Basque Country and has six different dialects. The Basque population does not use Basque as much as the Catalans do with Catalan or the Galicians with Galician, since it is difficult to learn and was forbidden for years by Franco’s regime.
Some of the most characteristic features are:
- The simple vowel system of only five vowels, similar to that of Castilian, which it is believed to have influenced.
- Its consonantal system coincides with that of Spanish, except for the initial f, which appears mainly in borrowings. The aspiration of the initial Latin f in Castilian is considered to be Basque-influenced.
- It has a mobile accent, depending on the surrounding sounds and the structure of the sentence.
- The verbal system uses particles to indicate the modes and the passive voice since the subject is always patient.
- It is an agglutinative language with declinations and syntactic structures different from Latin.
- Its lexicon has received much influence from Castilian in the form of borrowings and neologisms, although Basque has also lent some words to Castilian, like chabola, órgano, pizarra.
Galician is the co-official language in Galicia, and is very similar to Portuguese. It is spoken mainly in the villages, where the use of Galician is preferred to Spanish.
Some of the most important characteristics are:
- Seven-vowel vowel system, as it has open and closed e and o.
- It preserves the Latin diphthongs ou and ei : example ‘veiga’ (vega), ‘lousa’ (losa).
- In Galician, neither e nor o are accented: ‘terra’ (land), ‘porta’ (door).
- Its consonantal system is closer to the Latin one. It does not lose the initial f; it palatalizes initial pl-, cl- and fl- in /ch/: ‘chorar’ (plorare = to cry), ‘chave’, and maintains the spelling x for the voiceless fricative pre-palatal: ‘Xoan’.
- Galician syntax is different from Castilian and its lexicon, basically Latin, is more conservative than Castilian. It preserves words of Celtic origin such as ‘berce’ (cradle); recent cultisms; Germanisms such as ‘pote’ (stew), ‘mosteiro’ (monastery), and some Gallicism ‘rúa’ (street).
Catalan comes from Latin, like Spanish, so these two languages have many similarities. It is spoken in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and the Valencian Community.
In the communities mentioned above, care is taken not to lose contact with these languages as they signify tradition. The co-official languages signify a part of the history of these regions that they do not want to leave in oblivion. The wealth of languages makes the country rich.
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