Characteristics and Attractions of Spanish

Using Without Knowing!? Spanish Language Familiar to Japanese People

August 15, 2016

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 Spanish, characteristics

Spanish is spoken in not only Spain but also several countries in Latin America. As a matter of fact, Spanish words are adopted in parts of Japanese and many use them without even knowing where they come from. For example, Spanish-originated words include "pan", "karuta" and "kasutera". We guess that many of you have heard greetings such as "Adios" and "Como estas". Because pronunciation as Roman letters is OK and word order is relatively loose, Spanish can be one of the easiest languages for the Japanese to learn.

Spanish? Castellano? Espanol?

Spanish is a language inherited from "Vulgar Latin," which is the colloquial language of Latin used in the Roman Empire. In the region where Spain is currently located, there used to be a number of small realms. Among those realms, the Realm of Castile turned dominant, and its language became the standard language in Spain. For this reason, Spanish is also known as castellano. Or, it is sometimes called "espanol," which originated from the Latin name of the Iberian Peninsula.

Linguistically, this language belongs to Romance languages of the Indo-European family, and is deeply connected to French, Italian and Portuguese. In addition, because a large number of Arabs dwelled in the Iberian Peninsula, a lot of words have also been borrowed from Arabic.

This language is spoken in not only Spain but also several countries in Latin America, and is one of the official languages of the United Nations. Also in the North America, it is the language spoken the second most often following English.

Pronunciation as Roman Letters is OK, Don't Forget to Roll Your Tongue

Spanish is easy to learn for the Japanese because, among other things, it is relatively easy to pronounce. Like Japanese, Spanish has five vowels: a, i, u, e and o, and has few sounds consisting of continuing consonants. With some exceptions such as that "h" should not be pronounced and "j" should be pronounced as "ha," "hi," "hu," "he" or "ho," pronunciation as Roman letters almost works out. Even though you may not know what a word or sentence means, all you have to do is pronounce it exactly as it is written in Roman letters. As long as the accent is right, you will be understood.

There is one thing you have to be careful about, which is how "R" should be pronounced. You must trill the "r" that begins a word and "rr" in the middle of a word. For example, you should trill "rey (king)" or "cigarro (cigarette)". You have to be careful about, in particular, "pero (but)", "perro (dog)", "caro (expensive)" and "carro (car, cart)" because the meanings will be totally different unless you trill them.

Familiarization to a Verb's Conjugation through Memorizing!

While Spanish may be easy to pronounce, it has a number of inflections, which may confuse you. A verb conjugates into six forms for singular or plural of the subject. A verb inflects into three forms: "ar", "ir" and "er", and conjugation of a verb has two types: weak and strong. Even a verb with weak conjugation may conjugate differently, depending on its ending. A verb with strong conjugation must be specifically memorized.

In addition, nouns are divided into masculine and feminine nouns. The articles vary by the gender and number of nouns qualified, and adjectives also inflect.

On the other hand, because the subject is easily known by the conjugation of a verb, a pronoun as the subject, such as "yo" and "ella", corresponding to "I" and "she" in English, respectively, is often omitted. This language, therefore, is relatively loose, compared with English, in which word order is strictly defined.


One of the characteristics of Spanish is that inflections occur very often - e.g. the conjugation of verbs - while the pronunciation itself is relatively easy. When you want to learn this language, we suggest that you memorize the conjugation of verbs and be aware whether a noun is masculine or feminine. In terms of grammar, the Spanish language has many things in common with French, Italian and Portuguese, which all belong to the same Romance languages, so understanding Spanish grammar will help you to also understand the grammar of other Romance languages.

Learning Spanish, a language that is spoken in a vast number of countries, will enable communication across broad regions and help you to acquire deep knowledge of the wide variety of cultures and history associated with the language.

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