The Spanish and Portuguese romance languages and literatures dominate the Iberian Peninsula, major parts of Africa, the southern portion of the new world from Mexico to the Magellan Straits, and even parts of Asia. These languages, spoken by over 450 million people in over thirty countries, provide a wide spectrum of cultural, linguistic, and literary variety. Spanish and Portuguese represent vibrant literature that stands at the forefront of twentieth-century excellence and innovation, a linguist’s paradise of dialects, rapid change, and development.
Such breadth—plus some 35 million speakers within the borders of the United States itself—gives multiple opportunities for developing skill in the spoken language, as well as in listening, reading, writing, and translation. Studying the Iberian roots of this large and important part of the population and learning about the people’s perception of life also brings greater understanding of their values and their struggle for identity. A Spanish or Portuguese major makes for a demanding, intriguing, and pleasurable experience.