Real Academia Española contemplating eliminating accents

And they're going descriptive, bit by bit.

Trebots @ Sunday October 25th 2009 11:14

Pity the journo is a thicko--he hasn't heard of descriptive dictionaries--but the thrust of this Miami Herald story is interesting. I don't really mind if they do spelling reform too: the Dutch rewriting of 1995 was a bugger because I'd just bought my paper Van Dale, but now all my dictionaries are digital. If the National Academies running Spain's peripheral Romance languages were pragmatic, they'd rewrite their dictionaries to bring into line the spelling of words phonetically indistinguishable from the Spanish, thus eliminating a major source of errors in popular use. Commonsense is not, however, part of their mission statement.

Categories: Languages, Les bourgeois

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  1. Lavengro
    October 25th 2009 14:47

    It is said that Pompeu Fabra deliberately chose i as the Catalan for and for no other reason than that y was Spanish.

  2. “el Primo”
    October 25th 2009 16:51

    Did they read Pompeu Fabra's mind? Quite an achievement.

  3. Trevor
    October 25th 2009 17:28

    In a particularly dull bookshop, just after I arrived, I read an edition of the letters he wrote around the time he was doing all this stuff, and the extent to which it was a political rather than linguistic project gave me one of those Ah! moments.

  4. Tom
    October 25th 2009 21:41

    Or perhaps just abolish the academies? English does fine without one.

  5. Lavengro
    October 25th 2009 22:00

    That is a matter of opinion.

  6. “el Primo”
    October 26th 2009 00:21

    English orthography is an incoherent mess.

  7. Trevor
    October 26th 2009 00:37

    Perhaps that is because they are concerned more with semantics than aesthetics.

  8. Lavengro
    October 26th 2009 10:37

    It is so that language snobs can show off how clever and well-educated they are by making pointless distinctions between word forms: practice (noun) and practise (verb); dependant (noun) dependent (adjective); proceed and precede (from the same Latin root), and so on.

  9. Trevor
    October 26th 2009 15:42

    So not the moderately clever and well-educated? I'd like to imagine that I'm above discriminating against bad spellers, but mediocrity dies hard.

  10. Lavengro
    October 26th 2009 16:15

    There is a lot of English spelling that we're stuck with, for a variety of reasons, and so it should be got right for the sake of clarity and linguistic cohesion. But there is a fair amount (such as the examples that I have given) that have no logical or linguistic justification. They could be simplified tomorrow and no-one would suffer a jot. But they can't be simply because some people fear that their spurious credentials as educated people will be undermined if such distinctions are abolished. Such is class warfare in the UK.

    It's not only spelling. There are people who can bore for England on the subject of apostrophes, or split infinitives, or ending sentences with prepositions, or less and fewer, without any real idea of what they are wittering about.

    You might like to see this:

  11. Tom
    October 26th 2009 17:14

    Split infinitives have never been a real problem. To properly understand them, you need to look at the American schooling system.


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