Spanish and English Unite in Europe

by Kimberly on Friday, November 4, 2011

British Council logoThe British Council and Cervantes Institute unite to battle common challenges with a book and plans for cooperation. It is probably no surprise that Spanish and English are two most dominant languages in the Western world. Up until now they probably viewed one another with caution, but new global tendencies require that the two languages unite to survive and meet the future challenges of other economic powers and influences. Together the British Council and Cervante's Institute have written a book called Palabra por Palabra, or Word for Word which examines the two languages and their upcoming challenges, particularly due to the unbridled expansion of Chinese, Arabic and Hindi.

The West's latitudes of influence may be changing. The idea of an Anglo-Saxon north and a Latin south has been blurring as the Hispanics spread north. The two cultural spheres represent a billion people whose first languages are English or Spanish. If you add to that number those who are learning one of these languages as a second language, the number doubles.

Carmen Caffarel, director of Cervantes Institute, explained that "this is the first step in analyzing challenges together between the two main languages within our spheres of influence" while Rod Pryde, director of the British Council headquarters in Madrid stated that "It is time to share perspectives".

The two languages will work together to find their place in the world, keeping in mind that learning Spanish and English increases the business and work opportunities for companies and people.

All of these aspects are discussed in the book Word for Word, which was presented yesterday at the Cervantes Institute in Madrid. Until know the English and Spanish institutions have worked solitarily, but now the reality in the US and around the world has inspired them to form strong alliances to ensure the growth and prosperity of both languages.

The US with an estimated 50 million Spanish speakers, second only to Mexico, has demonstrated that a peaceful coexistence between the languages can open many doors. Ángel López García, author of Anglohispanos explained that "It was the Americans, with their common sense, who have drawn the attention of the British and the Spaniards, from their distant and European orbit, to see the many opportunities that may result from a partnership".

Cervantes Institute logoHumberto López Morales has studied the effects of the coexistence of English and Spanish in the US and has found that that the general Spanish lexicon only varies by 1.6%. He noted that, after analyzing 430,000 words, that over 98% are in common use. Some attribute this success to maintain the common Spanish base to the Royal Spanish Academy which each year publishes an official dictionary and grammar in the Spanish language.

The demand for English and Spanish is also growing significantly in Asia and Brazil where, according to Alvaro Martinez Cachero, there are 5.5 students studying Spanish in academies and 25 million learning English. These areas of the globe represent real opportunities for expansion of both languages.

These are great advantages but there are also threats coming from the East. Rod Pryde asks "What will happen with Arabic, Chinese and Hindi in the near future? They are languages that are more difficult to learn, making it an obstacle for them to become global languages. But we cannot predict what will happen."

There is more to be learned from the new union between the British Council and the Cervantes Institute as explained by María José Ferrari: "It is clear that an institution like Cervantes, with a budget of 103 million euros and 20 years of experience, has a lot to learn from the British Council, with its more than 70 years of existence and 700 million pound budget (814 million euros), especially when two-thirds of that come from their own revenues and not state aid." She also explained that the British will hopefully experience "some humility" and to open their "world to other languages".

Keywords: Cervantes Institute,Spanish and English,British Council


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