century before English was, and gave names to former Spanish colonial regions and cities such as Colorado and Los Angeles. The largest Spanish-speaking groups in the United States today are peoples of Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican and Dominican heritage. At all levels of public and private education, Spanish is the most widely-taught second language in the United States.
Spanish is a romance language originating from Latin, with major influences from Arabic and the indigenous languages of the Americas. As is the case with any widely-spoken language, Spanish exhibits regional variations in pronunciation, vocabulary, pronoun usage, tense preference and other aspects; however, all dialects of the language are mutually intelligible. Many of the world's major literary voices, including ten Nobel Prize winners, wrote and write in Spanish: Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Calderón, Montemayor, Góngora, Quevedo, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Galdós, Martí, Unamuno, Clarín, Darío, Lorca, Machado, Cela, Avellaneda, Matute, Neruda, Concha Espina, Castellano, Vallejo, Gambaro; Borges, Paz, García Márquez, Valenzuela, Laforet, Garro, Allende, Rosalía de Castro, Pardo Bazán, and Menchú, to name just a few.