On April 23, we celebrate the Spanish Language Day in honor of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, poet and playwright, who contributed to the development of Spanish language with his masterpiece “El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha” (1605).
The celebration of Spanish language was born to raise the awareness of history, culture and the use of Spanish, and in order to help the development of multilingualism and multiculturalism. The aim of Spanish Language Day is to give a boost to this language and its correct use, by promoting its use beyond of the educational institutions.
At the beginning, the United Nations Department of Global Communications of the United Nation approved the decision to celebrate Spanish Language Day on 12th October. Subsequently, the date was changed to Abril 23rd, day of Cervantes’ death (Abril 23rd 1616). On the same day William Shakespeare died and during the next years other writers died on this day as well. An example could be Garcilaso de Vega, son of a Spanish man and an Inca noble woman, he was the first American man who started writing about Inca’s history, traditions, customs, medicine and other aspects of Inca’s civilization.
The tradition started in Valencia, and then has spread across Spain and Spanish-speaking countries, representing an expression of appreciation for our language.
Beyond the celebration of this important day from an historic point of view, academics are looking to the future of our culture and society, encouraging the younger generation to cultivate their language by reading books.
Margarita Vásquez Quirós, headmistress of Academia Panameña de la Lengua, member of the Real Academia Española of and honorary member of the Academia Cubana de la Lengua, reflects on the need to motivate young people to love reading because the ability to write and speak in a proper way is very important in order to respect our language.
One of the main Cervantes’ sentences is:”Who reads much and walks much, sees much and knows much”- (“El que lee mucho y anda mucho, ve mucho y sabe mucho”).
Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014), a Colombian writer and journalist, Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, at the opening of International Congress of Spanish Language of Zacatecas in 1997, he claims: « Spanish language must prepare itself for a big job in this future without frontiers. It’s an historic right. Not to its economic oppression, such as other languages to date, but for its vitality, its dynamic creative, its great cultural experience, its rapidity and expansion power, in an area of 19 millions km² and 400 millions of native speakers at the end of this century…».
All sector of society must be interested to this initiative because Spanish is the most widely spoken language of romance languages, in terms of speakers quantity, and also in terms of countries in which this language is predominant.
With 400 millions of native speakers, Spanish it’s the official language of 21 countries and the most widely spoken in the world following English and Chinese.
The consideration of Spanish language is growing during these years and it’s very important to have a system aimed to teaching and diffusion of Spanish language and culture.