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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The Genesis of Spanish: Conquest, Caves, Centralism

Gregory Kaplan, ProfessorCollege of Arts and Sciences - Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures

​Valderredible, a valley of some 300 km2 in the northern Spanish province of Cantabria, is a special place for its artistic heritage, which provides a vision of why the Spanish language, or Castilian, was born in the region. Monuments that testify to this phenomenon include a unique nucleus of cave (or rock-cut) churches from the seventh century AD. A series of fascinating images will accompany Kaplan’s narration of a story that began upon the arrival of Latin to Cantabria in the third century BC. The native Cantabrian language survived long enough to impact spoken Latin, and Spanish took on a new form. After the sojourn and death in the Valley of Saint Millán (474–574 AD), the speech of Millán’s cult followers acquired the prestige to propel the dissemination of Spanish as the language of Castile.

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