Castilian vs Spanish

We use both Castilian and Spanish. Are there differences between the two? Learn more about the "rivalry" of Castilian vs Spanish.

Castilian vs Spanish

Where Castilian Comes From

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Latin evolved to a number of different languages in different areas of the Iberian Peninsula. Portuguese emerged in Portugal. Galician was spoken in Galicia. Catalan became the language of Catalonia. Aragonese bloomed in Aragon. Leonese was used in the Kingdom of León. Asturian appeared in the region of Asturias. And Castilian, as you may have guessed by now, originated in Castile.

These languages are still spoken today. Some are recognized as minority languages, while Galician, Catalan and Euskara (a language isolate) hold official status as regional languages Spain. However, it wasn’t always so.

Castilian - the official language of the Catholic Kings

Catholic kings Isabella and Ferdinand conquered the kingdoms that comprise what is now Spain. And when they did, they made Castilian the official language for all the regions. In fact, that was not the only time Castilian was the mandatory language of Spain. During Franco’s dictatorship regional languages were also forbidden.

Hence, Castilian became the standard language of Spain - Spanish.

Castilian vs Spanish Nowadays

In Spain, Castilian is used to contrast with the other languages spoken in the country. Other times, it is used to distinguish different dialects, since the standard variety from Castille diverges from the one in Southern Spain. Many times, using Castilian instead of Spanish has political implications.

Outside of Spain, they are sometimes used to highlight the differences between the Spanish spoken in Spain and in Latin America. However, Spanish and Castilian are both used in Latin American countries. Check the map: blue is Spanish and red is Castilian. Mexico uses Spanish, for example. Argentina uses Castilian, even though it differs from the standard.

Castilian vs Spanish

If you are interested in knowing more about the history of Spanish, travel with us on this memory lane.