Since its inception, the RAE has counted on support from notable Latin American philologists, and independence from Spain did not break these links. Thus the nineteenth century saw the creation of associated national academias5 in Latin America and the Philippines which continued well into this century. It also acts as a conduit for lexical items frequently used in member states to be proposed for inclusion in the DRAE. Thus, it has been active, for example, in supporting the academia of Colombia in its successful attempt at lobbying for the enactment of a ley de defensa del idioma proscribing the use of foreign language terms in official documents.
Similarly, it supported the academia of Puerto Rico in its, initially successful but later overturned, attempt to have Spanish declared the sole official language of that country. At the same time, it appears to be the most trivial issues which create the greatest amount of debate within the association. However, the decision was taken in the face of intense opposition by a number of Central and South American states who viewed the issue in terms of United States cultural hegemony.
Indeed, until the right of veto by any member state was abolished in , most proposals for change could easily be blocked, making the Association a force for conservatism rather than change. While the DRAE has never been as prescriptive as its name Diccionario de Autoridades implies, it has, in the minds of many, become a byword for prescriptivism and this has often shaped the debate surrounding it. The DRAE is undoubtedly considered to be the most authoritative dictionary in the Spanish-speaking world and remains a reference point, for good or ill, for the work of a majority of lexicographers of Spanish.
The DRAE, currently in its twenty-first edition, has come in for a great deal of criticism over recent decades from language purists and non-purists alike: from the purists because it is seen as admitting to the hallowed ranks of authorized language elements of the vernacular considered unseemly, for example, the inclusion of gilipollas silly bugger in its special centenary edition; and from the non-purists, because it is seen as completely out of touch with current language practice. However, with the appointment of this director who is convinced of the need to work towards a descriptive rather than a prescriptive grammar, based on the teamwork of full- time specialists along with the application of information technology, it would appear that the edition marks the end of an era.
CREA and aims to create a database of some million words by the year Thus the CREA will provide examples and frequencies of current usage, primarily written but also spoken, from Spain and the countries of Latin America on which descriptive dictionaries and grammars of usage can be based.
It was partly because of the deficiencies of the DRAE, that the other major dictionary of the Spanish of Spain has enjoyed such a degree of success. However, given the nature of the enterprise, this dictionary has not been updated and consequently its usefulness is diminishing with time. One area of particular concern to us here is that of neologisms, where two principal volumes can be cited. The dictionary, based on a corpus from a variety of newspapers and journals e. In Latin America, the weight of a prescriptive tradition appears to have been less constraining although a lack of financial resources has limited lexicography in large parts of the subcontinent and meant that much work on Latin American Spanish has often been carried out by projects financed elsewhere.
A complete dictionary is currently awaited.
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These are to be descriptive with ample information on current usage, and at the same time contrastive insofar as they will focus on elements which present a contrast with Peninsular usage, providing Peninsular synomyms where such exist. In this, deviations from the norm are seen as defects.
Butt and Benjamin vii note the loss of prestige of the RAE in the second half of the twentieth century and point to correctness being decided by the consensus of native speakers. However, it must be noted that this consensus is actively influenced by other agencies for prescription, notably the style guide for the media, administration and the professions. Not only has this form of prescription constituted a growth area in the latter part of the twentieth century but it is interesting to note that it is customary to find members of the discredited RAE playing a prominent and authoritative role in this new field of publication, the area which will provide the focus of the following section of this chapter.
The need to avoid the fragmentation of Spanish and to staunch what is frequently viewed in fairly militaristic terms as an invasion of foreign items has, for many years, been a concern of the Spanish-language press. Not surprisingly, given the proximity of its northern neighbour, the United States, the first Spanish-language style guide was brought out in Cuba. Nowadays, most major press agencies have Latin American desks, increasingly located in Latin America.
A number of these, in recent years, have responded to the need for standardization by producing in-house style sheets or guides. The influence of the Academy on the Department, made up of a permanent staff of philologists and a Style Advisory Council Consejo Asesor de Estilo , is considerable. This call has since been reiterated in the Zacatecas Congress held in Mexico. In the field of radio broadcasting, where, especially with the use of satellite broadcasting, the target audience may be drawn from across national boundaries, they were to avoid country-specific terminology.
For example, coche Pen. Such concerns are of particular relevance to Latin America where the role of radio broadcasting, particularly in rural areas with high levels of illiteracy, takes on an importance unimaginable in Europe12 and where a clear need is perceived to avoid the use of terms which not only might not be comprehensible in certain countries but which might actually cause offence. For example, the use of the verb coger is considered taboo in a number of countries, Mexico, for example, where its use is reserved for acts of fornication.
In the MEU there is a clear recognition of the pace of language change and the role of the media in promoting and disseminating new forms. It is of the view that indispensable neologisms abound even though they have not yet been admitted by the Academy. In line with the principal aim of the Cuban volume, a major concern of the DEU is to regulate the use of Anglicisms and Gallicisms. Other major areas of concern include standardization of place reference, transcription and transliteration of foreign words and phrases, use of acronyms and advice on selected areas of grammar.
Over a similar period, in Spain, individual organs of the press have also felt the need to have their own style guides in order to maintain and promote their own distinctive image.
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While there is a large measure of agreement between the style guides on issues such as the use of the conditional, the over- and misuse of the gerund, and Anglicisms and Gallicisms to be avoided, it is interesting to see how they seek to differentiate themselves from each other in certain crucial areas. Let us take, as examples, the issues of regional politics and non- sexist language use.
While all three newspapers see themselves clearly as Spanish-language newspapers, they show differing levels of acceptance of the use of words and phrases drawn from minority languages, principally Catalan, Basque and Galician, in their reporting. The traditionalist ABC, on the other hand, prefers the Spanish translation wherever possible. Thus we are faced, here as elsewhere, with the competing needs of establishing an individual identity through language, leading to greater fragmentation, and that of reaching the widest possible readership, leading to greater unification.
The edition repeats this injunction but warns against what it sees an an over-extension of these principles, i. Indeed, in a relatively short space of time the usage prescribed above has become standard, with the traditionalist ABC espousing the same linguistic policy. However, as we shall see later 2. For example, the conservative Spanish Minister of the Environment, Isabel Tocino has invoked her right to be called el ministro and not la ministra, aligning her language use with her politics. Interesting as these norms are, it is even more interesting to examine to what extent they are observed in practice.
Already, in the late s a widening gulf was opening up between the language used in the press and that codified in the dictionaries of the time.
In his brief survey of style guides and their observance, Smith records a substantial list of anglicisms. In some cases he records borrowings los box office, los raids, for example where a Spanish equivalent is easily available las taquillas, los ataques. Audiovisual broadcasting has also provided a fertile ground for style guides. Like the press, radio and television are often the butts of harsh criticism for their alleged abuse of language, and in Spain the situation is no different although the terms in which the debate is couched reflect national concerns.
However, with regional broadcasting, the question soon arose of how to express spoken norms for those channels which chose not to adopt the prestige norm of Castile.
For example, Canal Sur advises its broadcasters not to imitate the pronunciation of Valladolid, given that not only is Andalusian not an inferior variety of Spanish but rather the one of majority use. While newscasters should not play up andalucismos, they should not avoid them either in the interests of a supposedly neutral Spanish. Andalusian should be seen as a repository of many fine turns of phrase of, on occasion, more distinguished ancestry than the standard Spanish equivalent.
The guide is a model of tolerance of language variety.
The broadcasting company of the autonomous community of Madrid, Telemadrid, in its Libro de estilo de informativos takes a much more prescriptive approach when it addresses, in considerable depth compared with the other guides available, the issue of what constitutes neutral or standard spoken Spanish in terms of its own audience. It provides an extremely complete guide to prosody and pronunciation, for example, it recommends the retention of intervocalic and word-final [d]:.
Libro de estilo de informativos As regards intonation, newscasters are to avoid affections such as el dejo and el tonillo, two non-standard intonation patterns commonly adopted by broadcasters.
ISBN 13: 9780373518661
Telemadrid is aware that one area of language where the broadcast media come in for a great deal of criticism is that of live sports broadcasting, where the broadcasters are frequently sports and not media professionals and where the heat of the game may do violence to the language. Thus they have devoted a section of their guide to advice for use during repeat broadcasts of sports events. What is interesting about a study of these style guides is not so much the variety of language which they purport to attempt to unify but more the window they provide onto the changes which are currently taking place in the language of the media and to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the particular feature, in the language outside it.
Furthermore, it is important to note that the change affects not only determined areas of lexis such as, for example, those of sport or financial institutions, but the structure of language itself. Indeed, the whole area of borrowing, not only from the minority languages of Spain, but more importantly from English, is one where journalists deviate widely from recommended practice. One domain in Spain where change in the use of the Spanish language has been actively and effectively promoted at institutional level has been within the Public Administration, whose use of language under the Franco regime had become a byword for verbose obfuscation of an archaic variety and a butt of humour for satirists.
For example, they were expected to end requests and applications with the following set formula:. Es gracia que espera alcanzar del recto proceder de V. Tinsley As Tinsley notes, the formula abounds in religious overtones with the citizen firmly placed in the position of a supplicant before a quasi-divine authority. In other western countries there had already been significant institutional reform with a view to achieving the democratic ideal of an administration which would act as a public servant to citizens who had rights as well as duties.
Furthermore, during the s and s there had been major language reform designed to reflect this changing reality.
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One of the challenges which faced Spain during the Transition was to create a new relationship between the citizen and the state which would reflect new democratic procedures. With the adoption of a new constitution in Spain and devolution of powers to the autonomous communities , those communities with a minority language rapidly drafted guidelines regulating the use of their language in public administration.
However, during this period the central government expended its energies on modernizing the institution itself and neglected, to a large extent, the reform of its discursive practices, assuming that these would simply, in time, come to reflect this new social reality. However, as Tinsley notes , whether due to inherent conservatism, laziness or a desire for self-aggrandizement, these changes failed to materialize as quickly or as systematically as might have been expected.
Thus, during the s administrative documents drafted in Spanish looked increasingly archaic and out of tune with modern aspirations. The style guide, based on the analysis of a corpus of representative documents produced by the Public Administration, constitutes a compendium of what is considered to be good practice. Essentially, it follows the outline of the style guides for journalism we have looked at previously—i. However, unlike the media style guides, one of its primary functions is not to regulate an influx of neologisms into the language but rather to eradicate a whole range of archaisms rarely found nowadays in Peninsular Spanish other than in administrative texts.
Further functions, as we have mentioned above, are to achieve greater economy of expression, greater clarity and to project a more acceptable relationship with the average citizen. The lexical section clearly marks what are considered to be archaisms, for example, the use of the impersonal pronoun ello as in ello, no obstante. As regards economy of expression and consequently the streamlining of correspondence, superfluous administrative formulae and rhetorical flourishes are to be eschewed.
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In the interests of clarity officials should endeavour not to deviate from standard word order, avoiding, for example, Comunico a Vd. The lexical section provides plain language alternatives for what it considers cultismos administrativos. For example, tomar una medida is recommended for adoptar una medida. We have already mentioned the injunction to avoid the use of archaic honorifics such as V.
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