Three hundred years ago in Madrid, at the house of Don Juan Manuel Fernández Pacheco, the Marquis of Villena, a group of eight determined men met in order to attempt the feat of creating a dictionary of the Spanish language, founding an academy “to be composed of honorable individuals capable of examining and discerning the errors that have distorted the Spanish language due to the introduction of words that are heathenish and improper for use by honorable people.” This meeting would end up being so fruitful that now, centuries later, the institution is celebrating its 300th anniversary.
For this important occasion, the Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy, commonly abbreviated RAE) plans to relaunch its renovated website. There, one can consult, in addition to their well-known dictionary, the linguistic entities of past eras, as well as other very useful dictionaries for researchers and translators. Additionally, last week the RAE inaugurated an exhibit of its history, titled La lengua y la palabra (“Language and Words”) where manuscripts, incunables, and various artistic pieces are on display. The exhibit can be seen in the National Library of Spain, and will be on display until January 2014.
The festivities will come to an end in October 2014, when the RAE publishes the 23rd edition of its dictionary. All of this, as reported by the Spanish newspaper El País, is the result of two years of preparation, carried out in part, as indicated by the institution’s director José Manuel Blecua, to “get the 200th anniversary off of our backs, which was barely celebrated.” Given this important anniversary, the Spanish Lottery will produce a bill with the image of the RAE, and the Royal Mint will produce a commemorative silver coin.
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