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John Wonder has sent me an article from El País on the Second International Congress of the Language (i.e. Spanish) in Valladolid, Spain sponsored by the 22 Academies of the Language (one in Spain, the rest in Spanish America). It marked the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Association of these academies. I was surprised that, in this period of crisis, President Fox would have found time to attend this meeting. However, it was clear that behind all this there was a political purpose, since, as Nebrija said, language is the instrument of empire. Spain was promoting itself as the cradle of the Spanish language, while Mexico was promoting itself as the great defender of Spanish in the Western hemisphere.The association of academies had been founded in 1951 on the initiative of Mexican President Miguel Alemán. The First International Congress of the Language was held in Zacatecas, Mexico in 1997. To avoid the argument as to what the language should be called (Spanish, Castilian, etc.), it is simply called "the language". The favorite Spanish word, Iberoamerican, could not be used since that would include Brazil. To stress the trans-Atlantic nature of the language, a special edition of the Dictionary of the Language was issued, embossed with the shield of Spain and Mexico. President Pastrana of Colombia also went to bolster the claim that the best Spanish is spoken there (not true). What the other academies thought about this primacy given to Mexico was not stated. Mexico was now "New Spain" again, presumably a bastion of Spanish against the spread of English.

Ronald Hilton - 10/16/01