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Saturday, October 23, 2021

70 years ago, Mexican president suggested language cooperation

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For detailed biographical information, please check the very first article of this blog. Thanks!

The Spanish counterpart of the Académie Francaise in Paris, officially established in 1635, was founded in Madrid in 1713 as Real Academia Española (RAE) to help promote the language in the motherland and its colonies. From 1871 to 1949, all other Spanish-speaking nations opened their own national institutions.

On June 14th 1950, then Mexican president Miguel Alemán (1903-1983) proposed a meeting of all those Spanish language academies. He had four clear objectives in mind: to unify commonly used lexicon, to adjust the meaning of Latin Americanisms, to establish academies in countries or territories where Spanish was spoken, but they didn’t exist yet, and to place the Spanish language at the service of humanity.

Following that suggestion, the 1st Congress of Spanish Language Academies was celebrated in the Mexican capital in April and May of 1951, at which the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language (ASALE) was created. This marks the beginning of a linguistic policy that implies close cooperation between the 23 academies located all around the world in deciding common norms regarding Spanish vocabulary, grammar and orthography. At irregular intervals they author relevant publications that serve as references for everybody working with this global language.

Delegations from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines (where Spanish was a co-official language until 1987), Uruguay and Venezuela were present. The Real Academia Española had confirmed its assistance, but for political reasons finally didn´t participate. Though at the end of 1951, it joined ASALE’s Permanent Commission.

During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) Mexico had supported the Republican authorities with arms and send volunteers. After Francisco Franco´s victory, Mexico City didn´t recognize the new Nationalist government in Madrid. Instead, it kept close contact with the exiled Leftists, some of which had actually escaped to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Full diplomatic relations between Mexico and Spain were reestablished only in 1977.

Further corporations were created in 1955 in Puerto Rico, an unincorporated US territory which belonged to Spain until 1898, and in the United Sates in 1973. Equatorial Guinea, until 1968 Spain’s only colony in Black Africa, finally took the step in 2013.

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