La segunda gran expansión de la lengua española


Adolfo Elizaincín



According to the Instituto Cervantes, about 559 million people use the Spanish language all over the world.  This implies a sort of “quantitative pressure” on the world population, granting prestige and popularity to the language, while at the same time imposing a great responsibility.

The Spanish language -formerly known as castellano- is experiencing what can be denominated a "second major expansion". The first expansion took place in the XVI century, after the so-called “discovery” of America.  At that time, the expansion was accompanied by a notorious standardization process which included, among other things, the making of important cultural artifacts such as the publication of works on language (e.g. Nebrija´s Gramática Catellana), and, in more general terms, the flourishing of Castilian literature. The second great expansion, which took place by the end of the XX century and the beginning of the XXI, is similar to the former in that works on language continue to be published, such as the Nueva gramática de la lengua española, or the surprising culmination of the literary creation currently known as the boom of Spanish American literature.

The main difference between the first and the second expansion, however, lies in the fundamental role the Americas played in the latter. This new role assigned to the Americas caused both the incorporation of new speakers into the Spanish speaking population and the arousal of conflicts and misunderstandings in the realm of international relationships between Spain and the other Spanish speaking countries.


Keywords: Spanish language • xvi - xxi Centuries • Expansion • The role of America


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