Language and Linguistics Can Often essay

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The English were quick to borrow much of this technology to conquer many countries over the centuries. Even the very simple words that were once rooted in the Spanish vocabulary, such as "stockade" and "conquistador" were later adopted into the English military vocabulary. Both nations had "paradoxical interactions of Spain and England during the 16th and 17th centuries" (Brownlee, 2009) and as Trans-Atlantic exploration was ramped up by both nations, interaction between the two in the new world and in Central and South America began to influence the way both languages, especially English were evolving.

The common concerns of these empires, whose interests, history, and cultures are often seen as running relatively parallel during this time also played a major role in the development of the English language from Spanish roots. Any time two nation's interests converge, there undoubtedly will be a sharing linguistic traditions and development. International trade is a sector where the economic interests of different nations intersect to create both slow and rapid cultural and linguistic changes. Author Erichsen (2009) explains that many English words of Spanish origin that originated from the Caribbean region exerted their etymological influence through trade between countries. The vibrant mixture of Spanish, English, and other native cultures that exists in the Caribbean region today is the result of trade that started between these countries five hundred years earlier.

The gastronomical evidence is also worth examining. Like language, culturally unique foods and food technology are often spread through trade and other events economic in nature (Millward, 1996). Wherever different goods like food were being exchanged, language and linguistic influences were also being traded. The very names of certain foods like "avocado" and "banana" come from rich cultural backgrounds (Erichsen, 2009). The roots of these words can be traced back from English through Spanish, and eventually through to origins in other languages as well. Food is a great example of a catalyst for language change and development. Like other forms of cultural influence, gastronomical changes brought with them changes to language and culture.

Systematic Changes

Language, like many other complex forms of human interaction, is subject to both very rapid and very slow change. The latter type of change is nearly always more common, as rapid change usually only occurs at key points in a culture's history, when another invading culture or society changes the norms and the customs of another society in a very brisk way (Millward, 1996). These types of changes, while historically evident, occur much less frequently than the slow, systematic shifts that arise from the development of culture and language over decades or centuries. Like culture, language is an ever-moving form of communication. Development and changes occur very slowly, from generation to generation, as new words and linguistic structures and systems take the place of older, more traditional ones.

In the American southwest, these changes are evident in many of the cultural customs of both Americans and Mexicans. The entire southwest was once an economic engine for the country of Mexico and the westward expansion of the U.S. Even the English word "buckaroo," which is slang for "cowboy," has Spanish roots. This word comes from the Mexican word "vaquero," which means the same thing in Spanish. Cowboys, or as the Spanish call them, "caballeros," played an integral role in the cultural development of that region (Brownlee, 2009). This is an excellent example of how commerce and shared interested slowly helped a language and culture evolve and develop first in an isolated region, and then in a more widespread manner. This manner of isolated change spreading and developing into more widespread influence is mirrored in the way in which Spanish culture and language slowly found its way into English theater nearly five hundred years ago.


It is evident that in many ways that the English language has been influenced by the Spanish language. There exist cultural, political, historical, and literary connections between the two that span more than half a millennium. English scholars and playwrights were often influenced by Spanish culture and language, which in turn influenced the rest of English society at every level. Even the Kings and Queens of that time exerted great influence for the development and evolution of the English language, whether they were aware of it or not. Over the centuries, the common interests of both nations also played a pivotal role in the development and change of the English language. The close geographic proximity to Mexico that is shared by many U.S. states has created a melting pot of culture and language in that region. Many of the traditions outside of language have also been adopted there and elsewhere, in a testament to the fact that throughout history, one culture has often played a major role in the future development of another, as exemplified through the influence of the Spanish Conquistadors in Central and South America.

The influences of empire, both great and small, have created linguistic shifts that have trickled down through the languages and cultures of England and English-speaking populations, leaving an indelible mark on modern day English language and society. Economics and trade have also indirectly led to cultural and language changes and evolution over time in regions such as Mexico, Texas, and the Caribbean. Spain and England were trading in these regions centuries ago, as evidenced by the heavy linguistic, gastronomic, and cultural influences. As time goes on, these cultural and linguistic changes will likely result in the creation of new words and language structures. Languages are like rivers, always changing and cutting new paths through the cultural landscape (Gorman, Brenda K. And Kester, Ellen Stubbe, 1996).

Most often, linguistic change and development occurs over a long period of time. There are times where huge shifts and influences exerted themselves in a very short amount of time; but generally, it is accepted in the world of etymology that language changes relatively slowly, given the most common influences. A systematic change that occurs can often be so subtle as to not be evident on a large scale. The fact that the topic of Spanish influence on the English language is found to be interesting and novel by so many people is testament to this. There are entire libraries filled with books on the subject, yet many people cannot accurately describe how and when these linguistic changes occurred. Language is a key component to culture, and as the Old World began to explore and develop the New World, many of these cultural changes became evident in the literary works as well as the vocabulary of the resulting cultures. It is surprisingly easy to trace the roots of Spanish influence on the English language back through the years if you know where to look. The "stampede" (Spanish word adopted by the English language) of cultural change moves ever forward, as it has since language has existed.

Works Cited

Brownlee, Marina. "Intricate Alliances: early Modern Spain and England." Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. 39(1):1-5. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009.

Erichsen, Gerald. "Spanish loans words in English, Spanish Words Become Our Own. Adopted and Borrowed Words Enrich English." Web. . Dec 5, 2009.

Gorman, Brenda K. And Kester, Ellen Stubbe. "Spanish-influenced English: Typical semantic and syntactic patterns of the English language learner." ES Kester, 1996.

Millward, C.M. A Biography of the English Language, 2nd ed. Fort Worth, TX: Wadsworth Publishing, 1996.

"The Restoration of Drama: Early Spanish Influences in English Drama." The Cambridge History of English and American…[continue]

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