Spanish predated English in arriving in what is now the United States. For 400 years, the two languages have co-existed; today’s immigrants continue to bring variation.
Phillip M. Carter explains how Spanish came to our shores and explores its many dialects. Local, regional and national news stories have recently raised the misconception that native Spanish speakers are only now beginning to populate areas of the United States en masse. Although recent Census reports show that the U.S. Hispanic population has experienced an upsurge since the early 1990’s, Hispanic communities and varieties of the Spanish language have been maintained in the United States for well more than four centuries.
In fact, Spanish actually antedates English in the areas that now make up the composite United States — a fact that surprises many Americans. In terms of continuity and longevity in the United States, the Spanish language is second only to Native American languages that were spoken for centuries prior to colonization.
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