Skip to main content
We bet on the language of Cervantes

We bet on the language of Cervantes

The Cervantes Institute has presented its annual report "The Spanish Language in the World" at its New York headquarters.  It is the first time it has appeared there, and not in Madrid, to champion the presence of the Spanish language in the United States, where some fifty-seven million and half Hispanics reside, and thus react to the Trump administration's anti-Hispanic offensive, which wants to relegate this language to a background position in that vast country.

One of the first decisions that the US president made when he took office was to eliminate the Spanish section of the White House website.  This has encouraged outbreaks of intolerance and racism, to which are added wrong policies such as the removal of the digital edition of The New York Times in Spanish. Apparently, there are certain authorities that seem to feel their linguistic reign is threatened.

 The opposite is done by the well-known American senator Javier Serrano, who runs his campaigns and political posters in New York in both languages, first in Spanish and then in English, because here Spanish is a currency: a capital where the names of the subway stations, banks, bars, restaurants, are in both languages.

 An interesting fact is that in 2060 the United States will be the second Spanish-speaking country in the world, with one hundred and twenty million people, only preceded by Mexico, which now has one hundred and twenty-nine.  The Spanish language is the fourth most powerful, with English in first position, an unbeatable frank language, and slightly behind French and Chinese, according to the aforementioned report.

 By number of speakers, Spanish is the second mother tongue in the world, after Mandarin Chinese, and also the second language according to the global count of speakers.  Of the 21 Spanish-speaking countries, there are 400 million people who have it as a native language, and 577 million practice it, which means 9.6% of the world's population.  From the 2018 report to today, it has grown by three million people for those who practice it.

 The director of the Cervantes Institute, Luis García Montero, who flew to New York for the presentation, said that Spanish should not be identified with Spain.  "We share the language," he said, "with twenty-one other countries," not counting precisely the United States.  And he shared his concern about what he called "outbreaks of intolerance and racism" and "the use of languages to fuel the conflict," for example, when "it is said that the founding fathers of a country that falsifies history only spoke one language".  That was a hard and direct attack on the United States Government and its president, Donald Trump.

 In reviewing the expected annual report, El País states: «The fourth place of Spanish in the world in terms of its influence comes from measuring its influence in various fields.  It is so that, as a language for trade, "in imports from countries that have it as the official language it occupies the third position (9%)".  English is 31%, and Chinese is 16%.  However, it is ahead of German (7%) and French (5%).  If we talk about diplomatic relations, "Spanish occupies the third position in the UN and fourth in the EU", although the Cervantes Institute regrets its insufficient representation in both international forums.

 Most importantly, "Spanish in the world" recognizes that the population of Spanish speakers only grew by 0.62%.  The demographic trend is negative in the long term, as the population of India and Sub-Saharan Africa increases their weight in the world population because they are predominantly Anglophone and Francophone.  If the trend does not change, in thirty years Castilian will enter a demographic decline worldwide.

 The current director of the Cervantes Institute in New York, Richard Bueno Hudson, who previously served as the academic director of the Cervantes Institute, has been at the head of the preparation of this report.  He defends that bilingualism is absolutely necessary in the contemporary world due to migratory flows, and that its update is more than ever required: «We must consider a strategy for the formation of Spanish in the world.  If not, we risk getting stuck.

 The Grupo Excelencias joins those who defend the promotion of the Spanish language, and makes available to the Cervantes Institute our more than thirty-five media in six languages, because we believe in the defense of all those languages that help us to twin and communicate a world best.