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3 - Some (Unintended) Consequences of Colonization

The Rise of Spanish as a Global Language

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 September 2021

Danae Perez
University of Zurich
Marianne Hundt
University of Zurich
Johannes Kabatek
University of Zurich
Daniel Schreier
University of Zurich
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As Spain expanded its colonial empire, Spanish language and culture were introduced throughout the colonies. In this contribution, Ithe author explores the socio-historical factors that led to Spanish becoming a global language. From an evolutionary perspective, it is proposed that the arrival of an Old World cultural and linguistic community to the New World was the introduction of an invasive cultural and linguistic community into a new environment not equipped to handle it. This collision of cultures and languages led to an unintended result, the large-scale decimation of the indigenous communities, described by Diamond (1999: 354) as the ‘largest population replacement in the last 13,000 years'. Another, related consequence was that the Spanish language dominated during the colonial period, and since has continued to be the de facto main or exclusive language as the colonies became nation states. It has also been instrumental in a wide variety of political movements, as well as in the development of cultural expression. While being the second most widely spoken world language, Spanish regional varieties have emerged that reflect the local linguistic ecologies of areas where they are spoken.

English and Spanish
World Languages in Interaction
, pp. 31 - 52
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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