Spanish to Lose a Couple of Letters

Story here. Specifically, “ch” and “ll,” according to the Royal Spanish Academy. But they’ll have to contend with no less a personage than Hugo Chavez. Or Hugo Avez.

:: ducks to avoid Nava’s wrath ::

They’re not getting rid of ‘ch’ and ‘ll’; they’re just ceasing to collate them as separate letters when sorting. So ‘ch’, for example, will be treated like English ‘ch’, sorted between ‘cg’ and ‘ci’, instead of being in a whole separate section between ‘c’ and ‘d’.

I think they should have gone in the other direction and replaced them with the likes of ‘č’. :wink: But then I think English should bring back eth and thorn instead of using ‘th’ for two sounds.

What Sunspace said, and most dictionaries had stopped separating them decades ago anyway; it’s only that sometimes the Academies are so hooked up on the “set” part of “cleans, sets and makes splendid”, they almost turn it into “wipes softly, throws back and refuses to redecorate”. It also means a bunch less Academicians (each letter gets two).

I’m reasonably sure we’ll still eat chocolate and pronounce it with a /ch/ sound :slight_smile:

Did you already lose rr and ñ, in the sense mentioned?

None of these changes will stop me from singing a paean to paea.

No, but those can’t be lost in the sense mentioned:

ñ isn’t a “double letter”, like ch, ll and rr - taking it off wouldn’t just involve “reordering a few words”. Plus there’s the detail of how horrible it looks when you get forms written abroad saying things like “si tienes mas de 13 anos…” - no, lovey, I’m reasonably sure nobody in this world has more than 13 assholes, not even proctologists (btw: that’s copied directly from games provider Steam).

rr was never treated as a double letter in the sense of being listed in the alphabet, at least not officially (some people did list it but IME it was a majority, and it never got seats at the Academias); it was a group with a special sound, like ch and ll will be now, but not a letter. This is, as far as I can tell, because you can’t have a word start by rr, you only get rr in between two vowels; if a word starts with an rr sound, it’s spelled with a single r - thus, no need for a separate RR entry in dictionaries, and no Academics to take care of words starting with RR.

There are other groups which have special sounds, but their situations are more complex so they were never treated as separate letters.

Great, now I am going to have to re-learn the Spanish alphabet song I memorized in high school Spanish class.

Wait, wait… didn’t they do that back in the mid-90s??? Heck, I recall that around here we got these news at that time and we haven’t been using them that way since '96. They hadn’t made it **official **yet? Typical Spanish efficiency :wink: :stuck_out_tongue:

Leave it to the Latin American academics to claim they’re rejecting new prescriptivism, in order to ***avoid ***simplification from the old prescriptivism.

(Then again, of course the whole life purpose of a Latin American Spanish language scholar is to oppose anything that may remotely smell like English :rolleyes: )
FWIW as mentioned there had always been some debate between the Academies over that notion the old professors had that the phonetically distinct digraphs should be separate “letters”. Interestingly, Spanish typewriters DID have a dedicated “ñ” key - not a separate tilde-plus-n, as does the standard US computer keyboard, but an actual single-strike ñ - but never had a “ch” or “ll” key.

Like Nava said, ñ was not in their sights over this, the issue with the digraphs was all along a matter of how to use for alphabetization in information management. A minor quirk when you’re dealing only with printed dictionaries and encyclopedias, mostly for use within the Hispanosphere, becomes a not so minor issue when you get into active linked databases used across a global economy, and the Internet Era IMO was the coup de grace for the notion of ch and ll being independent characters for sorting purposes (I suppose because the Extended Character Set does provide for separately coding “ñ” and ligatures (æ), but not digraphs).
As for Mr. Chavez, well, back in '95 I wondered what the Venezuelan Academy would have to say in the various language reforms, after all, it was Venezuelan-born Andrés Bello who did the major work on American Spanish grammar in the 19th century. As usual, the reform “our” guy did is supposed to be the last reform that was ever needed…

Heh, interesting, while I know that anos = assholes and años = years (and thus understanding your joke), running that phrase through Google translate gets me “if you are over 13 years”. I’ve seen both anos and años used interchangeably up here (I think with a slight edge to anos) and I don’t think anyone’s so much as batted an eye (though our Spanish-speaking population, while larger than you most likely think, isn’t that large, and pretty much everyone who can speak another language, including the French in the large French quarter of the city, speak and understand English.)

Yeah, that’s what I thought. I did Spanish at school for two years in the mid-1990s and I remember my teacher telling me that ch and ll used to be classed as separate letters but that had recently been changed.

Mind you, our French teacher told us that the circumflex was being abolished, too.

And after reading the article linked in the OP it seems the fuss isn’t as much over the loss of a few letters but more that some institute somewhere in Spain (the former colonial power, don’tcha know) is telling them how to spell things, and suddenly everyone thinks they’re Simon Bolivar.

That’s something I can understand more, as I’ve never understood the need for language institutes like L’Académie française to dictate the spelling of a language and be the official coining of new words (By observation, Quebec seems to do its own thing anyways). Heck, I feel the same way about the KLI (Klingon Language Institute) even though it’s a wholly constructed language.

The matters of language should only be decided by the people. (Of course, that makes spelling purists like me have a fit when I see things like was mentioned in another thread about “lose” being spelled more and more frequently with two "o"s, but that’s what makes the language alive. I’m sure Geoffery Chaucer and even Shakespeare would have a heart attack and die if they saw how we spell and pronounce things now.

Sort of.The spelling reform of 1990.

I lol’d, because I too have never met anybody with more than 13 assholes. Five or six seems to be the limit. :smiley:

This is a scam to get us all to buy new English-Spanish dictionaries.

This comes up from time to time on this board, but language institutes do not “dictate” spelling in any meaningful way. They’re mostly consultative bodies that make usage suggestions which may or may not make their way into actual usage. The French Academy, for example, influences French usage by publishing a dictionary once every few decades. In the case of the spelling reform described by Sunspace, I believe it was the French government that asked the French Academy (and language regulators from other French-speaking countries) to suggest simplifications to French spelling. This was done, and some of their recommendations I see in common use today along with the “older” spelling (e.g. évènement which is now accepted along with the more traditional événement) while others never made it. I haven’t seen many of these newly circumflex-less words in common usage, for example, although I believe elementary school teachers are supposed to mark both new and old spellings as correct.

As for Quebec, the official policy of the Office québécois de la langue française is to keep the written, formal standard of Quebec French as close as possible to formal international French in order to facilitate communication. And indeed, you’ll see next to no difference between a written text from Quebec and one from France or from another French-speaking country. Spoken dialects, of course, are not subject to the recommendations of any language regulator.

And add me to those who believed that ‘ch’ and ‘ll’ were already no longer considered as single letters by the Spanish Academy, and this since the 1990s at least. I know that when I took my first Spanish class (this was in 1998) I was told that they used to be single letters, but that it wasn’t the case anymore.


I thought somebody had resurrected a zombie thread. It’s like reading “The Soviet Union to disintegrate”.
My most important contribution to this thread is this: Nos quieren quitar la eñe.

¡Que viva el espanol, cono!

I wish we had grammatical explanations like that in French class…

Me too!

. . . ah, bay, say, chay;
day ay, effay, ~hay;
achay, ee . . .

Did you have Mrs. Carlson?

Oh no not the ll

Won’t somebody think of the llamas, PLEASE think of the LLAMAS!!!

Easy there, calm down. This isn’t a three-l lllama.