I’m a pretty good Spanish speaker. I won a Spanish award in high school. Later, in college, I took 2nd place in a Spanish-language poetry contest in a county fair. A couple years after that, I did a trimester abroad for an independent study, by myself, in Mexico (one of the most terrifying and wonderful adventures of in my life). There, I fell even more deeply in love with both the Spanish language and the Mexican culture.
One reason I love Spanish is the way it sounds. Another is, quite literally, the way it feels in my mouth. But there’s another big reason.
Someone I met once in Mexico tried to explain to me what he perceived as the difference between the two languages. He told me that in English, there are twice as many nouns as in Spanish, and in Spanish, there were twice as many adjectives as there were in English. His point was that Spanish is a more emotional, descriptive language.
While I’ve always intuitively believed his assessment, I’ve long suspected that his numbers were pretty arbitrary. So, recently, I set out to find out the truth.
Here’s what I found.
While it’s very difficult to quantify the number of words in any language (especially because we use multiple forms of many words, such as “big,” “bigger,” “biggest,” etc.), we can look at the number of words in a given source. And from there, we can look at the percentages of different parts of speech.
Wordnet lists 157,987 English words (although most experts believe there are actually about 300,000 words in the English language). Out of those, 117,798—or 75%—are nouns. Another 21,479—or 14%—are adjectives.
In contrast, LinguistList.org references the PAROLE Spanish lexicon. Out of a group of 22,000 words analyzed, it found that 12,209 (55%) were nouns and 4,997 (23%) were adjectives.
So, while my friend’s estimate of the ratios of nouns to adjectives in the respective languages was a bit off, the principle and the sentiment were spot on. Pretty interesting, right?
So, being una chica emocional,* it’s easy to see why I prefer Spanish. It’s passionate, romantic, descriptive, and beautiful. And when it comes to love, or love poetry, doubly so.
If you’re never explored the beauty of the Spanish language, I strongly suggest you do so. Maybe you’ll find it as encantando* as I do.
*Google Translate is your friend