English language borrowings from Spanish began earlier than people might think, probably as soon as Spain became a vast Empire and its weight in the world awed European nations. Perhaps it all started in 1492 with the discovery of America and Antonio de Nebrija’s Spanish Grammar (Gramática castellana), the first in a vulgar language.
Dr. John Simpson, Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the most influential lexicographer in English, favored me with a prologue for my “The New Dictionary of Current Sayings and Proverbs, English and Spanish” where he says: “My introduction to Spanish proverbs occurred when I was working on the letter A for the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs. The earliest piece of evidence I had for the proverb. It takes all sorts to make a world come from Thomas Shelton’s seventeenth-century English translation of Don Quixote: ‘In the world there must be of all sorts.’ I think the information has stuck with me all these years because I wasn’t expecting the first reference to an English proverb to come from a Spanish source. I’m not sure why I wasn’t expecting this: After all, English (at least since the Norman Conquest) shares much of its … heritage with the countries of continental Europe.”
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