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Real Academia Española

The Real Academia Española (English: Royal Spanish Academy), the RAE, is the official royal institution responsible for regulating the Spanish language. It is based in Madrid, Spain, but is affiliated with national language academies in twenty-one Spanish-speaking nations through the Association of Spanish Language Academies. The RAE's emblem is a fiery crucible, and its motto is "Limpia, fija y da esplendor" (English: "[It] cleans, sets, and casts splendour").

The RAE is a major publisher of dictionaries and grammars, and has a formal procedure for admitting words to its publications. Its website includes an online dictionary and other resources, all in Spanish. Its most famous publication is the Diccionario de la lengua española de la Real Academia Española (English: Dictionary of the Spanish Language of the Royal Spanish Academy), the "DRAE".



Frontispiece: Fundación y estatútos de la Real Académia Españóla (English: Foundation and statutes of the Royal Spanish Academy) (1715)

The Real Academia Española was founded in 1713, modelled after the Italian Accademia della Crusca (1582) and the French Académie française (1635), with the purpose "to fix the voices and vocabularies of the Castilian language with propriety, elegance, and purity". King Phillip V approved its constitution on 3 October 1714, placing it under the Crown's protection.

Its aristocrat founder, Juan Manuel Fernández Pacheco, Marquis of Villena and Duke of Escalona, described its aims as "to assure that Spanish speakers will always be able to read Cervantes" — by exercising a progressive up-to-date maintenance of the formal language.

The RAE began establishing rules for the orthography of Spanish beginning in 1741 with the first edition of the Ortographía (spelled Ortografía from the second edition onwards). The proposals of the Academy became the official norm in Spain by royal decree in 1844, and they were also gradually adopted by the Spanish speaking countries of Latin America. Several reforms were introduced in the Nuevas Normas de Prosodia y Ortografía (1959), and since then the rules have undergone continued adjustment, in consultation with the other national language academies. The current rules and practical recommendations are presented in the latest edition of the Ortografía (1999).[1]

In 1994, the RAE ruled that the Spanish consonants "CH" (ché) and "LL" (elle) would hence be alphabetized under "C" and under "L", respectively, and not as separate, discrete letters, as in the past. The RAE eliminated monosyllabic accented vowels where the accent did not serve in changing the word's meaning, examples include: "dio" ("gave"), "vio" ("saw"), both had an acutely-accented vowel "ó"; yet the monosyllabic word "sé" ("I know", the first person, singular, present of "saber", "to know"; and the singular imperative of "ser", "to be") retains its acutely-accented vowel in order to differentiate it from the reflexive pronoun "se".

Criticisms of the Academy

The Royal Spanish Academy has been criticised, especially in the Spanish-speaking Americas, for being excessively conservative and elitist and slow to change; for excessively concentrating upon linguistic usages of the region of Madrid, while dismissing variant usages from other parts of Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries; and for being slow in revising its authoritative Diccionario de la Lengua Española.

Moreover, the dictionary has been criticised for its partial definitions and somewhat limited coverage. For example, the DRAE definition for dinosaurio ("dinosaur") only covers Sauropodomorpha, just one of the many groups of dinosaurs that existed.

Supporters respond that the RAE's purpose is not registering ephemeral Spanish usages, but to protect a united Castilian language and prevent national variants from becoming incomprehensible to other Spanish speakers.

Critics have acknowledged, however, that recent editions of the Diccionario de la Lengua Española de la Real Academia Española (the 20th, 21st, and current 22nd editions) show distinct improvement. One innovation was its publication of a paperback edition in 1992. Partnerships with companies such as Telefónica, IBM, and Microsoft, enabled the RAE to update and adapt to the current information-technology era, offering a free on-line version of its Dictionary, which may be consulted free of charge at its website.

Academicians (académicos de número)

Members of the Academy are Académicos de número (English: Number Academics), chosen from among prestigious persons in the arts and sciences, including several Spanish-language authors, known as Los Inmortales (English: the Immortals), similarly to their Académie Française counterparts. They are elected for life by the other academicians. Each academician holds a seat labeled with a letter from the Spanish alphabet; upper- and lower-case letters are separate seats.


Current members

As of 2008, sorted by date of induction:

Notable past academicians

See also


  1. ^ Real Academia Española (1999) (in Spanish) (PDF). Ortografía de la Lengua Española. pp. v–viii. ISBN 84-239-9250-0.$FILE/Ortografia.pdf. Retrieved 2009-02-07.  

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




Proper noun

Real Academia Española f.

  1. Royal Spanish Academy, based in Madrid, Spain, and the principle institute responsible for regulating the Spanish language. Often abbreviated RAE.


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