Spanish orthography to simplify even further

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Spanish is known for having a particularly simple orthography compared to other languages (English tough, through, doughnut and French words like souhaiter, qu'est-ce que c'est and chef-d'œuvre come to mind), and this predisposition towards a simple orthography is probably what makes it so easy to bring about further changes. An article here details a few of them.

Some of the changes are just a Hispanization of existing English words such as turning sex appeal into sexapil and parking into parquin, but a few other proposed changes apply to the language itself. One of these is the proposed removal of the accent in words that don't technically need them such as éste, ése and sólo - these words have only two syllables so the accent is not needed to indicate the stress, which is always on the penultimate (second to last) syllable unless indicated otherwise.

The Real Academia Española is also going to publish its first common grammatical rules for all Spanish-speaking countries, which was carried out with the cooperation of 22 countries.


Paul Spleen said...

I'm reluctant to get rid of the accent in sólo, because it is useful indeed:

Sólo means 'only, just' (adv) and solo means 'alone, lonely' (adj). That's what we call a diacritical accent, which is used to mark the difference between two words meaning different things. Other examples of diacritical accents in Spanish: means 'tea' and te means 'you' (as in 'I love you'); means 'me' (as in 'do it for me') and mi means 'my'.

RAE has proposed to eliminate the accent in sólo only when there's no possible ambiguity about the meaning. In my opinion, that's not simplifying the orthography, since now you're going to have to think and read the sentence, whereas until now things were pretty clear. An accent? It means 'only'. No accent? It means 'alone, lonely'. As simple as that.

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