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Royal Spanish Academy

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Royal Spanish Academy

For the fine arts academy, see Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando.

Royal Spanish Academy
Real Academia Española
Abbreviation RAE
Motto Limpia, fija y da esplendor
Formation 1713
Headquarters Madrid, Spain
Region served Spain
Official languages Spanish
Director José Manuel Blecua Perdices
Main organ Junta de Gobierno
Affiliations Association of Spanish Language Academies

The Real Academia Española (English: Royal Spanish Academy), generally abbreviated as 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 other hispanophone (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" ("[it] cleans, sets, and casts splendour").

The RAE dedicates itself to language planning by applying linguistic prescription aimed at promoting linguistic unity within and between the various territories, to ensure a common standard in accordance with Article 1 of its founding charter: "... to ensure the changes that the Spanish language undergoes [...] do not break the essential unity it enjoys throughout the Spanish-speaking world."[1]

The proposed language guidelines are shown in a number of works. The priorities are the dictionary Diccionario de la lengua española de la Real Academia Española (Dictionary of the Spanish Language of the Royal Spanish Academy or DRAE), edited periodically twenty-two times since 1780, and its grammar, last edited in December 2009. The Academy has a formal procedure for admitting words to its publications.

The headquarters, opened in 1894, is located at Calle Felipe IV, 4, in the ward of Jerónimos, next to the Museo del Prado. The Center for the Studies of the Royal Spanish Academy, opened in 2007, is located at Calle Serano 187–189.


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 Philip V approved its constitution on 3 October 1714, placing it under the Crown's protection.

Its aristocratic 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).[2]

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 Academy has , especially in the Spanish-speaking Americas, been criticized for being excessively conservative and slow to change; for excessively concentrating upon linguistic usages of the region of Castile, 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 Diccionario, which may be consulted free of charge at its website.


Members of the Academy are known as Académicos de número (English: Academic Numerary), 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. The Números 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

  • (H) Martín de Riquer Morera, Count of Casa Dávalos (1965)
  • (M) Carlos Bousoño Prieto (1980)
  • (A) Manuel Seco Reymundo (1980)
  • (O) Pere Gimferrer Torrens (1985)
  • (q) Gregorio Salvador Caja (1987)
  • (p) Francisco Rico Manrique (1987)
  • (s) José Luis Pinillos Díaz (1988)
  • (J) Francisco Morales Nieva (1990)
  • (d) Francisco Rodríguez Adrados (1991)
  • (c) Víctor García de la Concha (1992)
  • (U) Eduardo García de Enterría y Martínez-Carande (1994)
  • (l) Emilio Lledó Íñigo (1994)
  • (C) Luis Goytisolo Gay (1995)
  • (L) Mario Vargas Llosa, Marquis of Vargas Llosa (1996)
  • (u) Antonio Muñoz Molina (1996)
  • (V) Juan Luis Cebrián Echarri (1997)
  • (t) Ignacio Bosque Muñoz (1997)
  • (K) Ana María Matute Ausejo (1998)
  • (ñ) Luis María Anson Oliart (1998)
  • (I) Luis Mateo Díez Rodríguez (2001)
  • (N) Guilermo Rojo Sánchez (2001)
  • (k) José Antonio Pascual Rodríguez (2002)
  • (E) Carmen Iglesias Cano (2002)
  • (i) Margarita Salas Falgueras (2003)
  • (T) Arturo Pérez-Reverte Gutiérrez (2003)
  • (G) José Manuel Sánchez Ron (2003)
  • (j) Álvaro Pombo y García de los Ríos (2004)
  • (o) Antonio Fernández Alba (2006)
  • (X) Francisco Brines Bañó (2006)
  • (h) José Manuel Blecua Perdices (2006)
  • (a) Pedro García Barreno (2006)
  • (S) Salvador Gutiérrez Ordóñez (2008)
  • (R) Javier Marías Franco (2008)
  • (D) Darío Villanueva Prieto (2008)
  • (m) José María Merino (2009)
  • (g) Soledad Puértolas Villanueva (2010)
  • (P) Inés Fernández-Ordóñez Hernández (2011)
  • (Q) Pedro Álvarez de Miranda de la Gándara (2011)
  • (e) Juan Gil Fernández (2011)
  • (f) José B. Terceiro Lomba (2012)
  • (r) Santiago Muñoz Machado (2013)
  • (b) Miguel Sáenz Sagaseta de Ilúrdoz (2013)
  • (Z) José Luis Gómez García (elected 2011)
  • (n) Carme Riera Guilera (elected 2012)
  • (B) Aurora Egido Martínez (elected 2013)
  • [F] vacant

Notable past academicians


Joint publications of the RAE and the Association of Spanish Language Academies

  • Diccionario de la lengua española (Dictionary of the Spanish Language) (1st edition: 1780, 22nd edition: 2001, the 23rd edition will be published in 2013 to mark the tricentennial of the founding of the RAE). The first edition is in public domain.
    • The Diccionario esencial de la lengua española (Essential Dictionary of the Spanish Language) was published in 2006 as a shortened work to span between the 22nd and 23rd editions.
  • Ortografía de la lengua española (Spelling [Book] of the Spanish Language, 1st edition: 1741, latest edition: 2010). The edition of 1999 was the first spelling book to cover the whole Hispanic world, replacing the Nuevas normas de prosodia y ortografía (New Rules for Prosody and Spelling) of 1959. The first edition is in public domain.
  • Nueva gramática de la lengua española (New Grammar of the Spanish Language, 1st edition: 1771, latest edition: 2009). The latest edition is the first grammar to cover the whole Hispanic world, replacing the prior Gramática de la lengua española (Grammar of the Spanish Language, 1931) and the Esbozo de una Nueva gramática de la lengua española (Outline of a New Grammar of the Spanish Language, 1973). The first edition is in public domain.
    • The Nueva gramática de la lengua española is available in 3 different versions: The Edición completa (Complete Edition) includes 3,800 pages in two volumes to describe morphology and syntax (published December 4, 2009) plus a third volume of phonetics and phonology and a DVD (early 2010). The Manual edition is a single 750-page volume, which was presented at the 5th Congress of the Spanish Language which convened virtually in Valparaíso, Chile, due to the earthquake, and was released on April 23, 2010.[3] The Gramática básica (Basic Grammar) is a 250-page pocket reference intended for school use, to be published in late 2010.[dated info][4]
    • The RAE has also published two other works by individual editors: Gramática de la lengua española (Grammar of the Spanish Language, by Emilio Alarcos Llorach, 1994) and Gramática descriptiva de la lengua española (Descriptive Grammar of the Spanish Language, 3 volumes, directed by Ignacio Bosque and Violeta Demonte, 1999).
  • Diccionario panhispánico de dudas (Pan-Hispanic Dictionary of Doubts, 1st edition: 2005). Resolves doubts related to the use of the Spanish language.
  • Diccionario del estudiante (Student's Dictionary, 1st edition: 2005). Replaces the Diccionario escolar de la RAE (RAE School Dictionary, 1996).
      • Diccionario práctico del estudiante (Practical Student's Dictionary, 1st edition: 2007) is an adapted version for Latin America, and is for sale only in the Americas.

See also


External links

  • Real Academia Española (Spanish)
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