Mexico Heads towards Linguistic Independence

Intense debates have taken place to decide whether the Spanish language should be regulated by the Royal Spanish Academy, which, as you may know, is based in Spain and does not include many regionalisms or current uses in existence in its (very) numerous varieties.

Historically, many thinkers, philosophers, writers, and translators have considered the Royal Spanish Academy’s dictionary as not inclusive of many words and expressions that are used outside the Iberian peninsula. In 1951, the Association of Spanish Language Academies was created, which has aimed to differentiate the Spanish of each region so as to provide a formal framework for “their” Spanish.

An important point to take into account when promoting this independence in Mexico is that although the Royal Spanish Academy’s dictionary includes words from other countries clarifying that they are regionalisms (e.g. from Mexico, Colombia, etc.), it does not make this distinction in the case regionalisms from Spain, which at the end of the day become words or phrases that, due to the ignorance of the writer or editor, end up being used in formal texts as neutral when, in fact, they are not.

Some examples include spellings of foreign words adapted to Spanish, which, while widely accepted in Spain, sound rather strange in other Spanish-speaking countries and are not used. This is the case of words like güisqui (whiskey) or Catar (for the country Qatar, which is written this second way in other Spanish-speaking countries). Some words that are different in Mexico include the words banqueta (meaning “sidewalk” and known in Spain as an acera) or camión (which, in addition to its traditional meaning of “truck,” also means “bus” in Mexico).

Mexico is now preparing to publish the second edition of a dictionary of “Mexicanisms,” which, according to Felipe Garrido, associate director of the Mexican Academy of Language (AML), will further move the country towards linguistic independence by allowing for the assessment of differences between Mexican Spanish and “original” Spanish, so to speak. Unlike half of the three thousand languages ​​that are in existence today but expected to disappear in the future as a result of globalization and disuse, Spanish continues branching out and taking new paths. This is because, as we have explained in previous publications, Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world as a native language, after Mandarin Chinese. Many believe that with such great diversity, it is impossible to rely on a single international regent to speak and write correctly.