Darío Villanueva (Villalba, 1950) will leave the direction of the Academy in December, for reasons that had been raised "a few summers ago". He does not intend to meddle in the identity of the successor, but he plans to vote and is clear about what the institution needs. In this interview, made by phone (he is traveling in Washington), he also reviews the circumstances that the RAE now lives.
Question. Mark Twain said that the news of his death seemed frankly premature. Does it also seem premature what is said about the faintness of the Academy?
Answer. "The dead that you kill are in good health." The Academy is full of opportunities. He has reacted to the implantation of Spanish in China. And we hope that presence will be ratified in November when the Chinese president visits Spain. We are going to close the glossary of grammatical terminology in which we have been working for three years … It is rare that this perception exists: the Academy is extraordinarily alive. In September our website, for example, responded to sixty million queries from the dictionary.
P. Where do the economic problems that are reported come from?
When I was elected by a large majority knew where I was getting. I do not leave because of the difficulties that are stated nor for any punctual
R. Ironically I said these days that I joined the Academy in 2008 and after a few months the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers was declared. And I expected, I said, that there would be no cause-effect … There has been a brutal economic crack. We are not especially whiny. The State's allocation was more than four million euros, and that contribution has decreased to less than half. The help of the Pro-Rae association has also been reduced drastically. The sales of books, especially those of consultation and dictionaries, went down all over the world. In addition, sponsorships have declined.
P. Does that poor air that is transmitted damage the future of the institution?
There are no candidates, therefore, what career is there to be already?
R. The 305 years have never been easy. We will leave. I think that the Enclave system that we have implemented will help us. We will not be millionaires, but less and less we will depend on the activity of third parties.
P. The State does not help the Academy according to the institutional importance that it has …
R. I could not feel satisfied. Spanish is an extraordinary asset. It is a network that has no other language in the world, and would be the envy of other countries. There is the French case. Sometimes you have to fight for the obvious. We have the support of the Royal House. But in the governmental field, of any administration, good words are not lacking, but from the saying to the fact there is a long way to go.
Let's look at what the English, the French, the Germans, the Portuguese, the Chinese, the Italians are doing
P. Is language underestimated as an industry?
R. The cultural industry concept comes from a very illustrious source, the Frankfurt School. Language is the support of many cultural industries. There are languages without an Academy, like English, but we have 23 academies that are fighting for the language at the same time. This value of the unity of the language has undoubted importance.
P. The Instituto Cervantes also has a low budget …
R. And he is a great ambassador of the language. Let's see what the English, the French, the Germans, the Portuguese, the Chinese, the Italians do … The Cervantes does a lot, but we are not in Africa, we are just in Asia, in Japan, in India, in Pakistan .. It would be necessary to plan this action of the language as a matter of State.
P. Is the Congress of the Language in Cordoba, Argentina dangerous?
R. I hope not. We will be there with the admired friend Luis García Montero to advance the presentation of the Congress. In Argentina there has been a major economic crisis. It has happened some other time that the host country is in difficulties. But we will also leave.
P. It conveys the idea that there are now careers at the Academy to succeed him. Is there a race?
R. The charges are renewed annually, every first Thursday of December. All are candidates. And if one is elected, he has to accept unless he has a serious health issue. So there are no candidates, therefore, what career is there to be already?
P. Why are you leaving?
R. When I was elected four years ago by a large majority, I knew where I was going. I'm not leaving because of the difficulties that are stated nor for any punctuality. It's a decision I made several summers ago. I have other things to do. The vast majority of my colleagues have expressed surprise or disgust, but all have understood.
P. Have you shown or would like to show any preference over the successor?
R. The position of director must have components that already held the position, such as intellectual, philological. In addition, we must take into account aspects of institutional representation, including diplomatic, I would say. And there is a part that now grows, the economic and financial dimension of the RAE. That dimension makes its way. And I believe that many members are empowered to join these three planes.
P. Does any name you shuffle, or those rumors that you have a candidate are unfounded?
R. It is difficult to pronounce when there can not be candidates … The role of the director demands equanimity. If the infundios exist, they have no basis. I know who can meet that requirement, but I'm going to maintain a balanced stance, but I will exercise my vote and I have clear ideas about it.