Reviews

New book on Spanish-language grammar

June 24, 2011

New book on Spanish-language grammar

By Marcela Álvarez

    To what extent is spelling necessary? Experts agree that correct spelling, proper use of vocabulary and mastery of grammatical rules are the three major areas that govern the rules of a language. To this end, the North American Academy of the Spanish Language (Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española -ANLE) and Editorial Espasa recently launched the new edition of Ortografía de la Lengua Española, in the U.S.

    This revised and expanded Ortografía is flexible: it seeks to unify and standardize the language but does not intend to impose itself. Its rules and concepts are common to the entire Hispanic sphere, with information that attempts to gather examples from each geographical area, from the Patagonia to Alaska. The new edition comes under the sign of renewal and perfection and is the result of the joint work carried out by the twenty Spanish Language Academies (including ANLE).

    Gerardo Piña-Rosales, Director of ANLE, said: “It took us eleven years to complete the work and, as a writer, I personally think that this Ortografía is very important and it will be very useful to Hispanics in the United States. That is my greatest concern.” Founded in 1973, ANLE is the youngest of the academies and its main focus is on Hispanics, while supporting the projects of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE). “It’s a work that lends itself to change, it is reasonable and it is a call to the unity of our language,” said Piña-Rosales. “What we all want, academia, institutions and people in general, is for the new Ortografía Española to be as unified as possible.” The book is an essential tool for 450 million Spanish speakers.

    What is in the new Ortografía? Among its innovations, the new manual proposes a single name for each letter: be for b; uve for v; double uve for w and ye for y (replacing the Greek i). In the new edition the alphabet has been reduced by the elimination of the letters “ch” and “ll”. Piña-Rosales also informed that the accents in “solo”, “guion”, the demonstrative (este, esta …) and the “o” between numbers (5 o 6) has been eliminated.

     Through practical examples, the book explains these changes in spelling and evolution of our language. What remains to be seen is how to adapt these changes in the Spanish we use in the United States. It goes without saying that we are not always careful with grammar and spelling but we must cherish it because our language is rich and wonderful.

     Although our pronunciations are different, the same graphical representation unifies the literary voices of Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa and Isabel Allende. Its unity and enduring work turn the Ortografía into a factor of unity and containment against the natural evolution of language. Indeed, the new Ortografía comes as a useful and necessary work.

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