|Native to||Crown of Castile|
|Ethnicity||Castilians, later Spaniards|
Old Spanish, also known as Old Castilian (Spanish: castellano antiguo; Old Spanish: romance castellano [roˈmantse kasteˈʎano]) or Medieval Spanish (Spanish: español medieval), was originally a dialect of Vulgar Latin spoken in the former provinces of the Roman Empire that provided the root for the early form of the Spanish language that was spoken on the Iberian Peninsula from the 10th century until roughly the beginning of the 15th century, before a consonantal readjustment gave rise to the evolution of modern Spanish. The poem Cantar de Mio Cid ('The Poem of the Cid'), published around 1200, remains the best known and most extensive work of literature in Old Spanish.
The phonological system of Old Spanish was quite similar to that of other medieval Romance languages.
|Affricate||voiceless||t͡s̻ ~ s̻||t͡ʃ|
|voiced||d͡z̻ ~ z̻||d͡ʒ ~ ʒ|
|Fricative||voiceless||ɸ||s̻ ~ t͡s̻||s̺||ʃ|
|voiced||β||z̻ ~ d͡z̻||z̺||ʒ ~ d͡ʒ|
|Approximant||central||ʝ ~ j||w|
The Modern Spanish system evolved from the Old Spanish one with the following changes:
The Old Spanish spelling of the sibilants was identical to modern Portuguese spelling, which, unlike Spanish, still preserves most of the sounds of the medieval language, and so is still a mostly faithful representation of the spoken language. Examples of words before spelling was altered in 1815 to reflect the changed pronunciation:
The bilabial stop and fricative were still distinct sounds in early Old Spanish, judging by the consistency with which they were spelled as ⟨b⟩ and ⟨v⟩ respectively. (/b/ derived from Latin word-initial /b/ or intervocalic /p/, while /β/ derived from Latin /w/ or intervocalic /b/.) Nevertheless, the two sounds could be confused in consonant clusters (cf. alba~alva 'dawn') or in word-initial position, perhaps after /n/ or a pause. The two appear to have merged in word-initial position by about 1400 CE and in all other environments by the mid–late 16th century at the latest. In Modern Spanish, many earlier instances of ⟨b⟩ were replaced with ⟨v⟩, or vice-versa, to conform to Latin spelling.
At an archaic stage, there would have existed three allophones of /f/ in approximately the following distribution:
Subsequently, the non-[h] allophones were modified to the labiodental [f] in 'proper' speech, likely under the influence of the many French and Occitan speakers who migrated to Spain from the twelfth century onward, bringing with them their reformed Latin pronunciation. This had the effect of introducing into Old Spanish numerous borrowings beginning with a labiodental [f]. The result was a phonemic split of /f/ into /f/ and /h/, since e.g. the native [ˈhoɾma] 'last' was now distinct from the borrowed [ˈfoɾma] 'form' (both ultimately derived from the Latin forma). Compare also the native [ˈhaβla] 'speech' and borrowed [ˈfaβula] 'fable'. In some cases, doublets appear in apparently native vocabulary, possibly the result of borrowings from other Ibero-Romance varieties; compare modern hierro 'iron' and fierro 'branding iron' or the names Hernando and Fernando.
Old Spanish had ⟨ch⟩, just as Modern Spanish does, which mostly represents a development of earlier */jt/ (still preserved in Portuguese and French), from the Latin ct. The use of ⟨ch⟩ for /t͡ʃ/ originated in Old French and spread to Spanish, Portuguese, and English despite the different origins of the sound in each language:
The palatal nasal /ɲ/ was written ⟨nn⟩ (the geminate nn being one of the sound's Latin origins), but it was often abbreviated to ⟨ñ⟩ following the common scribal shorthand of replacing an ⟨m⟩ or ⟨n⟩ with a tilde above the previous letter. Later, ⟨ñ⟩ was used exclusively, and it came to be considered a letter in its own right by Modern Spanish. Also, as in modern times, the palatal lateral /ʎ/ was indicated with ⟨ll⟩, again reflecting its origin from a Latin geminate.
The Graeco-Latin digraphs (digraphs in words of Greek-Latin origin) ⟨ch⟩, ⟨ph⟩, ⟨(r)rh⟩ and ⟨th⟩ were reduced to ⟨c⟩, ⟨f⟩, ⟨(r)r⟩ and ⟨t⟩, respectively:
Word-initial [i] was spelled Y, which was simplified to letter I.
In common with other European languages before the 17th century, the letter pairs ⟨i⟩ and ⟨j⟩ and ⟨u⟩ and ⟨v⟩ were not distinguished. Modern editions of Old Spanish texts usually normalise the spelling to distinguish the pairs, as Modern Spanish does.
In Old Spanish, perfect constructions of movement verbs, such as ir ('(to) go') and venir ('(to) come'), were formed using the auxiliary verb ser ('(to) be'), as in Italian and French: Las mugieres son llegadas a Castiella was used instead of Las mujeres han llegado a Castilla ('The women have arrived in Castilla').
Possession was expressed with the verb aver (Modern Spanish haber, '(to) have'), rather than tener: Pedro ha dos fijas was used instead of Pedro tiene dos hijas ('Pedro has two daughters').
In the perfect tenses, the past participle often agreed with the gender and number of the direct object: María ha cantadas dos canciones was used instead of Modern Spanish María ha cantado dos canciones ('María has sung two songs'). However, that was inconsistent even in the earliest texts.
The future and the conditional tenses were not yet fully grammaticalised as inflections; rather, they were still periphrastic formations of the verb aver in the present or imperfect indicative followed by the infinitive of a main verb. Pronouns, therefore, by the general placement rules, could be inserted between the main verb and the auxiliary in these periphrastic tenses, as still occurs with Portuguese (mesoclisis):
When there was a stressed word before the verb, the pronouns would go before the verb: non gelo empeñar he por lo que fuere guisado.
Generally, an unstressed pronoun and a verb in simple sentences combined into one word.[clarification needed] In a compound sentence, the pronoun was found in the beginning of the clause: la manol va besar = la mano le va a besar.
The future subjunctive was in common use (fuere in the second example above) but it is generally now found only in legal or solemn discourse and in the spoken language in some dialects, particularly in areas of Venezuela, to replace the imperfect subjunctive. It was used similarly to its Modern Portuguese counterpart, in place of the modern present subjunctive in a subordinate clause after si, cuando etc., when an event in the future is referenced:
|Latin||Old Spanish||Modern Spanish||Modern Portuguese|
|acceptare, captare, effectum, respectum||acetar, catar, efeto, respeto||aceptar, captar, efecto, respecto, respeto||aceitar, captar, efeito, respeito|
|et, non, nos, hic||e, et; non, no; nós; í||y, e; no; nosotros; ahí||e; não; nós; aí|
|stabat; habui, habebat; facere, fecisti||estava; ove, avié; far/fer/fazer, fezist(e)/fizist(e)||estaba; hube, había; hacer, hiciste||estava; houve, havia; fazer, fizeste|
|hominem, mulier, infantem||omne/omre/ombre, mugier/muger, ifante||hombre, mujer, infante||homem, mulher, infante|
|cras, mane (maneana); numquam||cras, man, mañana; nunqua/nunquas||mañana, nunca||manhã, nunca|
|quando, quid, qui (quem), quo modo||quando, que, qui, commo/cuemo||cuando, que, quien, como||quando, que, quem, como|
The following is a sample from Cantar de Mio Cid (lines 330–365), with abbreviations resolved, punctuation (the original has none), and some modernized letters. Below is the original Old Spanish text in the first column, along with the same text in Modern Spanish in the second column and an English translation in the third column.