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The Clarity of the Spanish Language
I love Castilian because of its rare clarity, which is more important than ever in these days of mass communication. How do you explain this clarity? Here are some possibilities:
- It is the result of altitude. In Spanish America, Spanish is spoken more clearly in the Andes than in the tropical lowlands. Is this true of other languages?
- It is due to the influence of the Church, which trained its priests in oratory, and the priests in turn influenced those who listened to their sermons. This is certainly true in Spanish America.
- It is due to the influence of Basque, which ancient Roman writers described as sounding like trumpets. Spanish was formed in La Bureba, a region close to the Basque country and once bilingual. Portuguese and Catalan, outside of the Basque area, do not have the same clarity.
- Spanish has been greatly influenced by Arabic, as is evident in its vocabulary. The Koran created a great oral tradition. Though eventually recorded in written form, Islamic tradition has continued to emphasize the orality of the revelation. Islamic ritual practice and therefore religious education involves aural memorization of portions of the Koran, and an elaborate system of recitation has evolved for its formal delivery. In the Sunni tradition there are no priests. Mosque ceremonies are conducted by the man with the best voice. This would reinforce the tradition of Catholic oratory.
Which of these explanations do you accept?
Ronald Hilton - 10/11/01