Salamanca – home of the world's purest Spanish
Tuesday, 4 April 2023
Samah explores her exciting experience visiting Salamanca whilst studying Spanish at school and delves into why the region is well known for it's 'pure language'.
Salamanca is a quaint city situated in the west of Spain. The region has deep cultural and historical roots which have influenced the city, as well as the Spanish language. The city was founded by the Celts in the 4th century. Later in the 8th century, it was invaded by the Moors, resulting in a change from its Christian culture to Muslim culture. There are many words which are derived from Arabic, which demonstrate the influence of Arabic culture. My personal favourite is the word ‘ojalá!’ It comes from ‘Oh Allah’, and it means ‘I wish’. In the 13th century, the Christian conquest took place during which Alfonso VI took control of Salamanca and established Catholic dominance. During this time, the University of Salamanca was founded and today is known as one of the oldest universities in the world and the first in the whole of Spain.
During my time studying Spanish, I had the amazing opportunity of visiting Salamanca with my peers and staying with a host family. I was fully equipped with my GCSE Spanish knowledge to talk about all my hobbies and favourite foods! I engaged with the locals, giving me a unique opportunity to speak Spanish as the locals do. Most importantly, I grasped a deeper understanding of the culture, vibrancy, and soul of the city. One of the key things that locals would always mention with pride is that Salamanca is the best place in Spain to learn Spanish given it is the ‘purest’. What makes Salamanca linguistically different and unique is that locals do not have a regional accent, making it the easiest to understand for learners of Spanish.
There are a variety of different languages that are spoken in Spain, not just Castellano (Castilian Spanish). Other languages include Gallego, Catalan, Euskera, Vasco and Valenciano. Each is specific to a different region within the country and has its own phonetic sounds and origins. For example, Catalan is known to originate from the Pyrenees Mountain area between Spain and France, and therefore contains many linguistic and vocabularic similarities to French although it is spoken in northern Spain.
Throughout my time in Salamanca, I practised Spanish with my peers as well as the host family we were staying with. We also received language lessons at a centre to understand Spanish grammar further. Having the opportunity to explore this city is one of the best experiences I have had as there were so many fun activities to do during my stay. One of which was a scavenger hunt, where we had to find and complete unusual tasks. Tasks included going to different bakeries and finding out what the city’s famous dessert is, taking a picture with a local who looks ‘cool’ and getting a group of people to sing a Spanish song with us! As well as being fun this activity really encouraged us to engage in lots of conversation and bring us out of the comfort of the classroom and speak Spanish in the real world. On our journey to improve our Spanish speaking skills, we saw the impressive Salamancan architecture and discovered traditional food which completed our experience.
I would encourage anyone who is learning Spanish to visit Salamanca and immerse themselves in the culture and language.