5 Reasons Spanish Isn’t Foreign to Americans

While it may seem like the rise of Spanish in the United States is a recent trend, the reality is that the U.S. has strong historical ties to the language.

The Huffington Post recently ran this great article laying out nine reasons why Spanish isn’t truly a “foreign” language in the United States. Here’s a summary of five of the best reasons they gave:

1. The Spanish language has a long history here

The article points out that Spanish colonizers actually came to America before the English, setting up a colony in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565. That’s over 40 years before the first permanent English colony was set up in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607.

2. The U.S. map is dotted with Spanish

Nevada, California and Florida are just a few of the states with Spanish names. There are also many cities through the U.S. with Spanish names, including major cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Antonio.

To go a level deeper, much of America was once actually part of Mexico. Present-day California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah were all part of Mexico until they were ceded to the United States at the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848.

3. The U.S. is now the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world

It’s true. Only Mexico has more Spanish speakers than the U.S. Read more about the U.S.’s place on the list of top Spanish-speaking countries here.

4. Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory

We’re definitely happy to see The Huffington Post give Puerto Rico (which is considered part of the United States) a shout-out, noting that the primary language here is Spanish (though many Puerto Ricans are bilingual, speaking English as well).

5. Americans use Spanish words every day

The article notes that words like “cafeteria” and “vanilla” are derived from Spanish. That’s true. And the list doesn’t stop there—so are “tornado”, “mosquito”, “cargo”, “canyon”, and many more. Spanish is part of everyday American life more than most people even realize!