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Spanish in the United States – Part 1

How did Spanish come about in the United States?

Spanish in the United States

Juan Ponce de León was one of the first Spanish speakers to set foot in what is now the United States. In his search for the mythical fountain of youth, he came upon what he thought to be an island, naming it after either its profuse vegetation or the time of year (historians disagree). Florida − which in Spanish means “flowery” − is now known around the world as the all-American playground. But it has not shed its all-Spanish name.

Despite its predominant use of the English language, the United States is inextricably linked to the Spanish language. The first permanent European settlement in what is now U.S. territory, in Saint Augustine, Florida, served as a base for Spanish explorers, missionaries, and merchants during the 1600s and 1700s. As they explored and settled in Florida, Alabama, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, the Spaniards left a trail of forts, churches, towns, and missions.

Junípero Serra, a Franciscan monk, founded nine missions in California, among them San Francisco (Saint Francis), Los Angeles (The Angels), Sacramento (Sacrament), and San Diego (Saint James).

Thanks to Spanish colonisation, the Spanish language extended throughout South America, Mexico, and into what is now Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. When the United States annexed those areas during the short Mexican War (1846-1848), the Spanish speakers stayed behind as part of the cultural and linguistic landscape of the Southwest.

Continue reading Spanish in the United States Part 2 

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