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Spanish in Castilla y León

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Cradle of the Spanish language

Image of the facsimile of the Cartularies of Valpuesta published by Siloé.

The Iberian Peninsula, like many other European territories, was conquered by the Romans and became a part of their Empire for seven centuries. During this time, Latin became the vernacular language, while the pre-Roman languages were only spoken in rural areas. After the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, Classical Latin began to die out and Vulgar Latin prevailed. It began to incorporate words from other languages, giving rise to the earliest version of Spanish or Castellano (Castilian Spanish).

It would be misguided to assert that the Spanish language was born at a specific time and place, since its evolution from Vulgar Latin into the Romance language was slow and gradual. What we have been able to date are the first traces of the written language, the earliest examples of Spanish: the texts in the Cartularies of Valpuesta, written between the 9th and 12th centuries in the province of Burgos. These documents contain the oldest evidence of the transformation of Vulgar Latin into the Romance language spoken at that time in Castile, which over the centuries became the official language of 21 countries and the world’s second-most-spoken language.