Translation and Language Industry Observations

Spanish or Castilian?

The official language of Spain is Spanish. Obviously. It was at the hands of the Spaniards that the use of Spanish spread throughout America. But many people refer to the main language spoken in Spain as Castilian. The term Castilian is often used as a synonym for European Spanish, and according to the Fundéu (Fundación del Español Urgente, or Foundation of Emerging Spanish) this is a valid synonym. However, using the term Spanish is recommended since it is less ambiguous. It is preferable to limit the use of the term Castilian when referring to the Romance dialect of the Middle Ages. Another term used to refer to the Spanish used in the country of Spain is Castilian Spanish.

Other Languages of Spain

But Castilian Spanish is not the only language spoken in Spain. Here are some of the other languages spoken in this country.


Catalan is a Western Romance language. It is spoken mainly in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands. It is the co-official language of these communities along with Spanish, and the official language of the Principality of Andorra.

There are between 9-10 million native speakers of Catalan and when adding in people that use Catalan as a second language the number grows to about 10-11 million.

Somewhere in the middle of the scale are the other two territories where Catalan is spoken: the Balearic Islands and the Valencian Community. Altogether, of the 13.5 million people who live in the linguistic area, it is safe to say that more than 9 million speak Catalan and 11 million understand it. (source: universitat en català)


Valencian is a Romance language that has shared origins with Catalan. It is spoken by approximately 2 million people. In addition, it is the official language of the Valencian community.


This language is the co-official language of Galicia. From about the 9th century it was possible to differentiate between the Latin and the Galician spoken in the region. After a period of splendor in the Middle Ages, a gradual replacement by Spanish began, which was also fostered by the Franco dictatorship from 1936 to 1975.


Basque is the language spoken in Euskadi, and is the oldest living language in Europe. It is spoken not only in Spain, but also in some areas of France.

Other Spanish Dialects

What qualifies as a Spanish dialect? To be able to classify as a dialect, you must take into account the following characteristics: it does not have its own literature, it is derived from a formally recognized language, its expressions and sounds are not so different, and that speakers of different dialects derived from the same language do not understand each other. A dialect also contains a familiar, colloquial lexicon.

Some of the dialects spoken in Spain are:

As these and other Spanish dialects have no literature, the need for translation services into these dialects is low if it exists at all. However, marketing and advertising in regions where a certain dialect is spoken is will be done in the language and tone of the locals. Ad agencies that work in those areas have the linguistic resources to capture the words and sounds of the dialect.

View of illuminated Placa Reial in Barcelona in warm autumn evening

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