As Spain celebrated the 400th anniversary of the death of its most universal writer Miguel de Cervantes, millions of Spaniards this week seized the moment to pay tribute to a language that has enriched English with words like ‘tomato’, ‘cocoa’, and ‘barbeque’.
The Spanish language is a thread binding millions of communicating persons, Spanish Ambassador to Namibia Concepcion Figuerola Santos told a reception in Windhoek on Monday to mark her country’s national day, which was attended by the Deputy Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, Peya Mushelenga, among others.
The Spanish language is the second most spoken mother tongue in the world, said the Spanish ambassador.
She noted Spanish is the official language in 20 countries on three continents, in the majority of cases co-existing with other languages. Mexico and the United States are the two countries with the largest Spanish-speaking communities in the world.
Furthermore, Spanish is the second most used language on Twitter and Facebook.
Furthermore, Spanish that originated in northern Castile is on the rise in Sub-Saharan Africa and interest in Spanish is growing.
In Namibia, the Spanish language exhibits the wealth that has been created by all those speaking it – the accents and expressions of the various people co-exist with European and American Spanish.
“For those born Spanish-speaking, Spanish is the language with which we have learnt to understand and express life. Spanish is our soul and our skin.This heritage is multiplied by the richness that our co-official languages bring to us,” said the Spanish ambassador.
The Spanish language’s first steps can be traced to a route adorned with monasteries, libraries and century-old universities. The first texts in Spanish date back to the X Century and at the University of Salamanca, the oldest in Spain (1252), the first Spanish grammar was written in 1492.
The course of Spanish is a journey of departure and return.
“The value attributed to language is what makes Miguel de Cervantes’ ‘Don Quixote’ an immortal novel. It is the second most translated literary work after the Bible. It confronted the mentality and censorship of the time with hidden messages, harboured in humour and irony. It is a literary monument to freedom: to the right to the freedom of thought, freedom of speech and to creative freedom,” she said.
“One of the most distinct lessons of Cervantes’ language is its opposition to the language of hatred and exclusion. 2016 has been a year marked by the violence of terrorism and xenophobia. In the face of this evil we would like to highlight Cervantes´ values of understanding and compassion.”
“Cervantes wrote that ‘the pen is the language of the soul’. He highlights the value of word to confront force and he conveys his message of respect and freedom through the permanent dialogue between the characters of Don Quixote,” she said.
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