January 26, 2021

@RAEinforma informs you, but does not do your homework | Culture

@RAEinforma informs you, but does not do your homework | Culture


– "If a spoonful defines the amount of food that fits in a spoon, how do we express the same with a fork?"

– "In reference to the portion of food that is taken with the fork, the term 'punctured' is usually used, often the diminutive form 'pinchadita' is used, the derivative 'tenedorada' is used very rarely."

No, it was not an exam question for aspiring professor and his answer. It is an example of the dialogue on Twitter between a Spanish speaker and those responsible for the account @RAEinforma, of the Royal Spanish Academy. From Monday to Friday, the Spanish Department up to date from this institution receives, in your tweeter account, questions about our language. This is the only way in which the RAE currently responds to any doubt. There are seven philologists who distribute the task by areas (spelling, lexicon, syntax …) and, depending on the complexity of the query, it is answered immediately -as there are recurrent questions, a short hits of the previous times-, or it forces them to stop, think and consult the academic works of the institution. In February, they answered 463 a day on average.

"This department is an observatory and a laboratory of the pan-Hispanic linguistic norm," says its director, the academic Salvador Gutiérrez Ordóñez, while the philologists remain attentive to the screens, in which they enter new linguistic questions. "A task that involves a thermometer of where the language is going, its trends". An example? The formation of plurals as millennials ("millennial" is recommended) or influencers: TO @marta__bautista he was told that "as an alternative to that Anglicism without adapting the adjective 'influential' is proposed.

The news or leisure influence the concerns of Spanish speakers. The premiere, last Friday, of the umpteenth superhero movie, a superhero in this case, Captain Marvel, "has motivated many questions about whether you can say that", says the department's technical head, Elena Hernández. The 280 characters of the social network of the bird tile allow a brief explanation: "Capitana is a possible feminine and is documented.In sports teams it is common, but the nouns of the military scale in Spain are common, not so in Latin America, where Both forms are accepted. "

This question serves to recall the opinion of the Academy regarding inclusive language: "The gender morphology in the Spanish language has an inclusive use that is masculine". However, "in certain professions that were exercised by men and in which women have entered the gender distinction appears with the or the. The next phase may be the difference in the termination, "adds Gutiérrez. a member? "In that case, there are reasons why its use does not bend the ending, because it is a noun that denotes an inanimate object, it's as if you say someone is the pillar of something, it does not matter if it's a man or a woman," explains Hernández, who has been in the department since its inception, 20 years ago, when the RAE premiered its website.

Elena Hernandez (left), head of the Spanish Department of the RAE, and the director, Salvador Gutierrez, address the doubts of users.
Elena Hernandez (left), head of the Spanish Department of the RAE, and the director, Salvador Gutierrez, address the doubts of users.

The consultants come from all over the world. The latest data show that the percentage from Spain is 24%, the same that comes from Mexico. Follow Colombia, with 11%; Venezuela (8%) and Argentina (7%). And they are of all conditions. "From the questions you can see that there are humble readers to editorial technicians, proofreaders, professors and specialists," Gutiérrez adds.

Regarding the type of doubts, "orthographic ones stand out, also those that affect punctuation, those of separate words or together and of the lexicon, by neologisms or technicalities that we often do not know", according to Hernández. The philologist remembers when someone asked for the word "sensar". "We had to investigate, because it's not in the Dictionary, but it is not wrong. We saw that it is used in several disciplines. "

However, not everything is flowers, there are trolls, trolls, better said. "First of all, education, dealing with you, do not get into provocations and, when you can, put humor," says Gutierrez. What is not always easy: "What are the most practiced sports in Spain?". "Sorry, but this channel aims to resolve doubts about the correct use of Spanish." Or clueless: "Is there an adjective for someone who does not get what he wants and gets angry?".

Another classic, according to Hernández, is the student who expects the RAE to do his homework. "I would like to know if the following names are abstract or concrete: light, water, time, sunset and space." The institution clarifies normative doubts, "not theoretical". There are also some vaguetes: "What is the meaning of orate?" "You can check it yourself in the online academic dictionary" (and then the link was added). What in the house they call giving the cane and not the fish. And there is always room for pleasure: "How do you correctly write gin and tonic?". "In english is gin and tonic; in Spanish, both 'gin and tonic' and 'gin and tonic' are written, although "graphic and yontonic adaptation" is recommended, a form that may be shocking, but the writer Jesus Torbado used it more than 30 years ago in his book Spanish start-up.

More than words

Gregorio Salvador emphasizes that the Spanish Department up to date, since November 1998, not only responds to linguistic queries, but also to "make proposals for the Dictionary or the grammar. "" In addition, we made the base of the Panhispanic of doubts, which has 1,300,000 queries per month, and contributed to the Justice style book or to Book of Style of the Spanish language ", of the RAE.

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