1902 Encyclopedia > Spain > Castilian Spanish Language

(Part 37)


Castilian Language [also known as: Spanish (Castilian) or simply as Spanish]

II. CASTILIAN.--This name (derived from the kingdom of Castile, the most powerful element in the Spanish monarchy) is the most convenient designation to apply to the linguistic domain which comprises the whole of central Spain and the vast regions of America and Asia colonized from the 16th century onwards by the Spaniards. We might also indeed call it the Spanish domain, narrowing the essentially geographical meaning of the word Espanol (derived, like the other old form Espanon, from Hispania), and using it in a purely political sense. But the first expression is to be preferred, all the more because it has been long in use, and even the inhabitants of the domain outside the two Castiles fully accept it and are indeed the first to call their idiom Castellano. It is agreed on all hands that Castilian is one of the two branches of the vulgar Latin of Spain, Portuguese-Galician being the other; both idioms, now separated by very marked differences, can be traced back directly to one common source —the Hispanic Eomance. One and the same vulgar tongue, diversely modified in the lapse of time, has produced Castilian and Portuguese as two varieties, while Catalan, the third language of the Peninsula, connects itself, as has already been pointed out, with the. Gallo-Roman.

Within the Castilian domain, thus embracing all in Spain that is neither Portuguese nor Catalan, there exist linguistic varieties which it would perhaps be an exaggeration to call dialects, considering the meaning ordinarily attached to that word, but which are none the less worthy of attention. Generally speaking, from various circumstances, and especially that of the reconquest, by which the already-formed idiom of the Christian conquerors and colonists was gradually conveyed from north to south, Castilian has maintained a uniformity of which the Romance languages afford no other example. We shall proceed in the first instance to examine the most salient features of the normal Castilian, spoken in the provinces more or less closely corresponding to the old limits of Old and New Castile, so as to be able afterwards to note the peculiarities of what, for want of a better expression, we must call the Castilian dialects.

In some respects Castilian is hardly further removed from classical Latin than is Italian; in others it has approximately reached the same stage as Provengal. As regards the tonic accent and the treatment of the vowels which come after it, Castilian may be said to be essentially a paroxytonic language, though it does not altogether refuse proparoxytonic accentuation and it would be a mistake to regard vocables like lampara, lagrima, rapido, &c, as learned words. In this feature, and in its almost universal conservation of the final vowels e, _, _ (_), Castilian comes very near Italian, while it separates from it and approaches the Gallo-Roman by its modification of the consonants.

Vowels. —Normal Castilian faithfully preserves the vowels _, i, 6, _; the comparatively infrequent instances in which _ and _ are treated like ? and 6 must be attributed to the working of analogy. It diphthongizes £ in ie, S in ue, which may be regarded as a weakening of uo (see Romania, iv. 30). Sometimes ie and ne in the modern language are changed into i and e: silla from sella (Old Cast, siella), víspera from vëspera (Old Cast, viespera), castillo from castëllum(01dCast. castiello), frente from frontem(01dCast. frúente), fleco from f 1 _ _ _ u s (Old Cast, flueco). The words in which « and S have kept their ground are either learned words like médico, mérito, or have been borrowed from dialects which do not suffer diphthongization. In many cases the old language is more rigorous ; thus, while modern Castilian has given the preference to mente, como, modo, we find in old texts miente, cuerno, muedo. Lat. au makes _ in all words of popular origin (cosa, oro, &c. ).

Consonants. —On the liquids l, m, n, r there is little to be remarked, except that the last-named letter has two pronunciations— one soft (voiced), as in amor, burla, the other hard (voiceless), as in rendir, tierra (Old Cast, in this case goes so far as to double the initial consonant : rrendir)—and that n is often inserted before s and d: ensayo, mensage, rendir (reddere). L mouillée (written II) represents not only the Latin I, II, Ij, but also, at the beginning of words, the combinations cl, gl, pi, bl,fl: llama (flamma), Have (clavis), llorar (plorare); the tendency of the modern language is, as in Catalan, to reduce II to y ; thus one readily hears yeno (plenum). N mouillée (_) corresponds to the Latin ___, mn, nj, and sometimes to initial n: año (annum), daño (damnum), ñudo (nodum). Passing to the dentals, except as an initial, t in words that are popularly current and belong to the old stock of the language, can only be derived from Lat. tt, pt, and sometimes ct, as in meter (mittere), catar (captare), punto (punctum); but it is to be observed that the habitual mode of representing et in normal Castilian is by ch (pron. tch), as in derecho (directum), pecho (pectus), so that we may take those words in which t alone represents cl as secondary forms of learned words ; thus we have bendito, otubre, santo as secondary forms of the learned words bendicto, octubre, sancto, alongside of the old popular forms bendicho, ochubre, sancho. D corresponds in Castilian to Latin t between vowels, or t before r: amado (amatus), padre (patrem). At the present day the d of the suffixes ado, ido is no longer pronounced throughout the whole extent of the domain, and the same holds good also of the final d : salú, pone, for salud, poned (from salutem, ponite). Sometimes d takes the interdental sound of z (English th), or is changed into I ; witness the two pronunciations of the name of the capital—Madriz and Madril (adj. Madrileño). The study of the spirants c, z, s ; g, j is made a very delicate one by the circumstance that the interdental pronunciation of c, z on the one hand, and the guttural pronunciation of g, j on the other, are of comparatively recent date, and convey no notion of the value of these letters before the 17th century. It is admitted, not without reason, that the spirants c, z, which at present represent but one interdental sound (a lisped s, or a sound between s and Eng. th in thing), had down till about the middle of the 16th century the voiceless sound ts and the voiced sound dz respectively, and that in like manner the palatal spirants g, j, x, before assuming the uniform pronunciation of the guttural spirant ( = Germ. ch in Buch), had previously represented the voiced sound of Ï (Fr. j) and the voiceless sound of S (Fr. ch), which are still found in Portuguese and in the Castilian dialects of the north-west. The substitution of these interdental and guttural sounds for the surd and sonant spirants respectively did certainly not take place simultaneously, but the vacillations of the old orthography, and afterwards the decision of the Spanish Academy, which suppressed _ (=>$; _ was retained for cs) and allows only _ and g before e and i, z and j before _, _, u, make it impossible for us to follow, with the help of the written texts, the course of the transformation. S now has the voiceless sound even between vowels : casa (pronounced cassa) ; final s readily falls away, especially before liquids : todo los for todos los, vamono for vamos nos. The principal sources of j (g) are—Lat. j and g before e and i (juego, jocum ; gente, gentem); Lat. initial s (jabón, saponem) ; Lat. _ (cojo, coxum); Ij, cl (consejo, consilium; ojo, oc'lum). The sources of z (c) are Lat. ce, cj, tj, s (cielo, caelum; calza, calcea; razón, rationem; zampona, symphonia). As regards the spirants/and v, it is to be observed that at the beginning of a word / has in many instances been replaced by the aspirated h (afterwards silent), while in others no less current among the people the transformation has not taken place ; thus we have hijo (filium) alongside oí fiesta (festa). In some cases the/ has been preserved in order to avoid confusion that might arise from identity of sound : the/in fiel (fidelis) has been kept for the sake of distinction from hiel (fel). As for v, it has a marked tendency to become confounded, especially as an initial letter, with the sonant explosive b; Joseph Scaliger's pun—bibere est vivere—is applicable to the Castilians as well as to the Gascons. _ is now nothing more than a graphic sign, except in Andalusia, where the aspirate sound represented by it comes very near j. Words beginning in hue, where the h, not etymologically derived, marks the inseparable aspiration of the initial diphthong ue, are readily pronounced gile throughout almost the whole extent of the domain : güele for huele (olet) ; giieso for hueso (os). This ___ extends also to words beginning with lue : güeno for bueno (bonum).

Inflexion.—There is no trace of declension either in Castilian oi in Portuguese. Some nominative forms—Dios (anciently Dios, and in the Castilian of the Jews Dio), Carlos, Marcos, sastre (sártor)— have been adopted instead of forms derived from the accusative, but the vulgar Latin of the Peninsula in no instance presents two forms (subjective and objective case) of the same substantive. The article is derived from ille, as it is almost everywhere throughout the Romance regions: el, la, and a neuter lo ; los, las. The plural of the first and second personal pronoun has in the modern language taken a composite form—nosotros, vosotros—which has been imitated in Catalan. Quien, the interrogative pronoun which has taken the place of the old qui, seems to come from quern.

Conjugation.—The conjugation of Castilian (and Portuguese) derives a peculiar interest from the archaic features which it retains. The vulgar Latin of Spain has kept the pluperfect indicative, still in current use as a secondary form of the conditional (cantara, vendiera, partiera), and, what is more remarkable still, as not occurring anywhere else, the future perfect (cantare, vendiere,partiere, formerly cántaro, vendiéro, partiéró). The Latin future has been replaced, as everywhere, by the periphrasis (cantare habeo), but it is worth noticing that in certain old texts of the 13th century, and in the popular songs of a comparatively ancient date which have been preserved in Asturias, the auxiliary can still precede the infinitive (habeo cantare), as with the Latin writers of the decadence: "Mucho de mayor pre?io a seer el tu manto Que non será el nuestro" (Berceo, S. Laur., str. 70), where a seer (habet sedere) corresponds exactlytosertí(sedere habet). The vulgar Latín of the Peninsula, moreover, has preserved the 2d pers. pi. of the imperative (cantad, vended, partid), which has disappeared from all the other Romance languages. Another special feature of Castilian-Portuguese is the complete absence of the form of conjugation known as inchoative (intercalation, in the present tense, of the syllable isc or esc between the radical and the inflexion), although in all the other tenses, except the present, Spanish shows a tendency to lay the accent upon the same syllable in all the six persons, which was the object aimed at by the inchoative form. Castilian displaces the accent on the 1st and 2d pers. pi. of the imperfect (cantábamos, cantabais), of the pluperfect indicative (cantáramos, cantarais), and of the imperfect subjunctive (cantásemos, cantaseis); possibly the impulse to this was given by the forms of future perfect cantáremos, cantareis (cantarimus, cantaritis). The 2d persons plural were formerly (except in the perfect) -odes, -edes, -ides ; it was only in the course of the 16th century that they got reduced, by the falling away of d, to ais, eis, and is. The verb essere has been mixed, not as in the other Romance languages with stare, but with sedere, as is proved by older forms seer, siedes, sieden, seyendo, obviously derived from sedere, and which have in the texts sometimes the meaning of "to be seated," sometimes that of "to be," and sometimes both. In old Latin charters also sedere is frequently met with in the sense of esse: e.g., " sedeat istum meum donativum quietum et securum" (anno 1134), where sedcat=sit. The 2d pers. sing, of the present of ser is eres, which is best explained as borrowed from the imperfect (eras), this tense being often used in Old Spanish with the meaning of the present; alongside of eres one finds (but only in old documents or in dialects) sos, formed like sois (2d pers pi.) upon somos. The accentuation in the inflexion of perfects in the conjugation called strong, like hubieron, hiziéron, which correspond to habuérunt, feeerunt (while in the other Romance languages the Latin type is erunt: Fr. eurent, firent), may be regarded as truly etymological, or rather as a result of the assimilation of these perfects to the perfects known as weak (amaron), for there are dialectic forms having the accent on the radical, such as dixon, hizon. The past participle of verbs in er was formerly udo (utus) in most cases ; at present ido serves for all verbs in er and ir, except some ten or twelve in which the participle has retained the Latin form accented on the radical: dicho, hecho, visto, kc. It ought to be added that the past participle in normal Castilian derives its theme not from the perfect but from the infinitive: habido, sabido, from haber, saber, not from hubo, supo.

CASTILIAN DIALECTS.—To discover the features by which these are distinguished from normal Castilian we must turn to old charters and to certain modern compositions in which the provincial forms of speech have been reproduced more or less faithfully.

Asturian.—The Asturian idiom, called by the natives bable, is differentiated from the Castilian by the following characters. Ie occurs, as in Old Castilian, in words formed with the suffix ellum (castiellu, portiellu, while modern Castilian has reduced ie to i. E, i, u, post-tonic for a, e, o : penes (penas), grades (gracias), esti (este), frenti (frente), llechi (leche), nuechi (noche), unu (uno), primeru (primero). There is no guttural spirant, j, but, according to circumstances, y or x (s); thus Lat. cl, Ij gives y: veyu (*veclus), espeyu (spec'lum), conseyu (consilium); and after an i this y is hardly perceptible, to judge by the forms fiu (filium), escoidos (Cast, escogidos), Castia (Costilla); Lat. g before e and i, Lat. initial /, and Lat. ss, x, give x (§)—xiente (gentem), xudiu (Judaeus), baxu (bassus), coxu (coxus), floxu (fluxus). Lat. initial / has kept its ground, at least in part of the province: flu, fueya (Cast. hijo, hoja). A very marked feature is the habitual ' ' mouillure " of I and n as initial letters : Heche, lleer, lluna, Hutu ; ñon, nunca, nueve, nube. With respect to inflexion the following forms may be noted :—personal pronouns : i (illi), yos (illos) ; possessive pronouns : mió, pl. miós ; to, tos ; so, sos for both mase, and fem. ; verbs : 3d pers. pi. imp. of the 2d and 3d conjugations in in for ___ (Cast, ian); train, tenin,facin (from facer), fiin (from fer), and even some instances of the 2d pers. sing, (obis ; Cast. habías) ; instances of pres. subj. in ia for a (sírvia, métia, sepia). The verb ser gives yes (sometimes yeres) in the 2d pers. sing., ye in the 3d. Faceré appears under two forms—facer and fer,—and to the abridged form correspond feis, fiendo, fiin, &c. Ire often appears under the form dir (antes de diros = antes de iros), which it is not necessary to explain by de-ire (see Schuchardt, Ztschr. f. rom. Philol., v. 312).

Navarrese-Aragonese.—In its treatment of the post-tonic vowels this dialect parts company with normal Castillan and comes nearer Catalan, in so far as it drops the final e, especially after nt, rt (mont, plazient, muert, fuert, parents, gents) ; and, when the atonic _ has dropped after a v, this v becomes a vowel—brcu (brevem), grieu (*grevem), nueu (novem). Navarrese-Aragonese has the diphthongs ie, _ from tonic _ and 8, and adheres more strictly to them than normal Castilian does,—cuende (eomitem), huey (hodie), pueyo (podium), yes (est), yeran (ërant), while Castilian says conde, hoy, poyo, es, eran. The initial combinations cl, pi, ft, have withstood the transformation into II better than in Castilian : plano, pleno, plega, clamado, flama are current in old documents ; and at the present day, although the I has come to be "mouillée," the first consonant has not disappeared (plluma, pllord, pllano— pronounced pljitma, &c. ). Lat. ct gives it, not ch as in Castilian : nueyt (noctem), destruito (destructum), proveito (provectum), dito for diito (dictum). Dbetween vowels kept its ground longer than in Castilian : documents of the 14th century supply such forms as vidieron, vido, hudio, provedir, redemir,prodeza, Benedit, vidiendo, &e. ; but afterwards y came to be substituted for d or dj : veyerc (videre), seyer (sedere), seya (sedeat), goyo (gaudium), enueyo (inodium). Initial /does not change into h: filio, feito. Navarrese-Aragonese does not possess the guttural spirant (J) of Castilian, which is here rendered according to circumstances either by g (Fr. j) or by II (l mouillée), but never by the Asturian x. Certain forms of the conjugation of the verb differ from the Castilian : dar, estar, haver, saber, poner readily form their imperfects aud imperfect subjunctives like the regular verbs in ar and er,—havieron (Cast. hubieron), estaron (Cast, estubieron), sabio (Cast, supo), dasen (Cast. diesen), poniese (Cast, pusiese) ; ou the other hand, past participles and gerundives formed from the perfect are to be met with,—fisiendo for faciendo (perf. fiso), tuviendo and tuvido for teniendo, tenido (perf. tuvo). In the region bordering on Catalonia the simple perfect has given way before the periphrastic form proper to Catalan: voy cayer (I fell), va fé (he has done), vamos ir (we went), &c. ; the imperfects of verbs in er, ir, moreover, are found in eba, iba (comeba, subiba, for comia, subia), and some presents also occur where the Catalan influence makes itself felt : estigo (Cat. estich), vaigo (Cat. vaig), veigo (Cat. veig). Navarrese-Aragonese makes use of the adverb __ as a pronoun : no les en daren pas, no'n hi ha.

Andalusian.—The word "dialect" is still more appropriately applied to Andalusian than either to Asturian or Navarrese-Aragonese. Many peculiarities of pronunciation, however, are commonly called Andalusian which are far from being confined to Andalusia proper, but are met with in the vulgar speech of many parts of the Castilian domain, both in Europe and in America. Of these but a few occur only there, or at least have not yet been observed elsewhere than in that great province of southern Spain. They are the following. L, n, r, d between vowels or at the end of a word disappear : sd (sal), só (sol), vúe (viene), tiee (tiene), paa and pa (para), mia (mira), naa and na (nada), too and to (todo). D is dropped even from the beginning of a word : e (de), inero (dinero), on (don). Before an explosive, I, r, d are often represented by _ : saiga (salga), vaiga (valga), laigo (largo), maire (madre), paire (padre). Lat. / is more rigorously represented by h than in normal Castilian, and this h here preserves the aspirate sound which it has lost elsewhere ; habla, horma (forma), hoder, are pronounced with a very strong aspiration, almost identical with that of j. The Andalusians also very readily write these words jabld, jorma, joder. This aspirate, expressed by j, often has no etymological origin ; for example, Jándalo, a nickname applied to Andalusians, is simply the word Andaluz pronounced with the strong aspiration characteristic of the inhabitants of the province. 0, z are seldom pronounced like s ; but a feature more peculiar to the Andalusians is the inverse process, the softened and interdental pronunciation of the s (the so-called ceceó) : señor (señor), &c. Before a consonant and at the end of a word s becomes a simple aspiration : mihmo (mismo), Dioh (Dios), do reales (dos reales). In the inflexion of the verb there is nothing special to note, except some instances of 2d pers. sing, of the perfect in tes for te : esluvistes, estuvites, for estuviste,—evidently a formation by analogy from the 2d pers. of the other tenses, which all have s.

It is with the Andalusian dialect that we can most readily associate the varieties of Castilian which are spoken in South America. Here some of the most characteristic features of the language of the extreme south of Spain are reproduced,—either because the Castilian of America has spontaneously passed through the same phonetic transformations or because the Andalusian element, very strongly represented in colonization, succeeded in transporting its local habits of speech to the New World.

Leonese. —Proceeding on inadequate indications, the existence of a Leonese dialect has been imprudently admitted in some quarters; but the old kingdom of Leon cannot in any way be considered as constituting a linguistic domain with an individuality of its own. The fact that a poem of the 13th century (the Alexandra), and certain redactions of the oldest Spanish code, the Fuero Juzgo, have a Leonese origin has been made too much of, and has led to a tendency to localize excessively certain features common to the whole western zone where the transition takes place from Castilian to Galieian-Portuguese.

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