What is hispanounidense?
Does the Spanish language have a Book of Style?
What does ANLE stand for?
At present, the 22 different Academies make up the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language, headed by the Spanish Royal Academy in Madrid, primus inter pares. They work together and publish a Grammar that gives guidelines with the correct usage for all Spanish-speaking countries, which is revised every so often to keep up with changes that are constantly taking place among Spanish speakers. Twenty-two countries and over 450 million speakers are difficult to rein in linguistically.
The Pan-Hispanic linguistic policy aims at unity, in a desperate—perhaps hopeless—attempt at keeping the language as unified and as cohesive as possible. In a way this aim is accomplished because the prestige of these institutions has an important impact on the media, and the publications by the Royal Academy act as a sort of Book of Style, heeded by the press and publishing houses everywhere. Take for instance the Ortografía, which sets spelling rules for the whole of the Spanish-speaking world. This is at least an attempt at uniformity in spelling, in orthography, that the English language does not have, where we find color and colour, curb and kerb, fulfil and fulfill and more, that are confusing. Typos such as awsome for awesome are even defended as “variations” in spelling. Spanish, however, has it clear.
The Gramática, the Ortografía, the Diccionario de dudas, the general Diccionario act as a Spanish-language Book of Style. English may have The Chicago Book of Style or the MLA Style Sheet, but they are unofficial, even though they carry a lot of weight.
The satellite academies of the Spanish language have obliged the Royal Spanish Academy (1713), in Madrid, to become more descriptive in its approach to language and less prescriptive. They have forced the Real Academia to be less strict in trying to enforce rules that are often unrealistic, and become more pragmatic, descriptive, in the use of language. Still the Academia is the moving force behind the consortium and acts as a sort of Big Brother that nudges them along and keeps them in line, as Dr. James Parr from the University of California, tells me in a private communication.
ANLE, Academia norteamericana de la lengua española, The Northamerican Academy of the Spanish Language, founded in 1973, and a member of the Asociación de Academias de la lengua española, headed by the oldest (1713) in Madrid, aims at keeping a watch on the usage and abusage of the language spoken in the United States. A tall order, to say the least.
Hispanounidense, the Spanish spoken in the U.S.
Ivonne Malaver, associate editor of VOXXI, interviewed the Director of the Northamerican Academy in Al Día, (01/21/11) “Llegó la hora del hispanounidense,”—which I recommend—where the new neologism hispanounidense as a variety of Spanish, is considered for the first time, stressing the perils of language diversity. The varieties of language experience is more important in the Spanish spoken in the U.S., hispanounidense, which is influenced, of course, by the dominant language, upon another tremendous variety of speeches: Mexican, Guatemalan, Cuban, Peninsular, Puerto Rican, Venezuelan…Spanish. In this article Professor Gerardo Piña Rosales stresses that some other academies were not in favor of this Academia norteamricana de la lengua española because they considered this “new” speech, Spanglish, to be some sort of a bastard, unfit to be taken seriously.
All efforts to try to keep some sort of a unity of language, especially in spelling and punctuation are to be taken seriously. And if the guideless are written and accepted by all the Academies, Spanish speakers will have an official Spanish Book of Style for reference. This is important.
Also La Real Academia Española (RAE) has a free databank of over 400 million words from the writings of authors from all over the Hispanic world through the centuries. An important tool we all can take advantage of. The dictionary (DRAE) can be checked online also.
It is important for the 50 million speakers of Spanish in the U.S. to know they belong to a whole, to a linguistic community made up of over 450 million speakers and that they have the advantage and possibility of commanding two of the world’s leading languages today.
Oh, the joys of bilingualism!