Names given to the Spanish language

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There are two names given to the Spanish language: Spanish (español) and Castilian (castellano). Spanish speakers from different countries or backgrounds can show a preference for one term or the other, or use them indiscriminately, but political issues or common usage might lead speakers to prefer one term over the other. This article identifies the differences between those terms, the countries or backgrounds that show a preference for one or the other, and the implications the choice of words might have for a native Spanish speaker.

Generally speaking, both terms can refer to the Spanish language as a whole, with a preference for one over the other that depends on the context or the speaker's origin. Castilian (castellano) has another, more restricted, meaning, relating either to the old romance language spoken in the Kingdom of Castile in the Middle Ages, predecessor of the modern Spanish language, or to the variation of Spanish nowadays spoken in the historical region of Castile, in central Spain.


History of the terms

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