Spanish orthography

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Ortografia de la lengua espanola (2010) <<Ortografia de la lengua espanola>> (2010).jpg
Ortografía de la lengua española (2010)

Spanish orthography is the orthography used in the Spanish language. The alphabet uses the Latin script. The spelling is fairly phonemic, especially in comparison to more opaque orthographies like English, having a relatively consistent mapping of graphemes to phonemes; in other words, the pronunciation of a given Spanish-language word can largely be predicted from its spelling and to a slightly lesser extent vice versa. Notable features of Spanish punctuation include the lack of the serial comma and the inverted question and exclamation marks: ¿¡.

An orthography is a set of conventions for writing a language. It includes norms of spelling, hyphenation, capitalization, word breaks, emphasis, and punctuation.

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish or Castilian is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

Alphabet A standard set of letters that represent phonemes of a spoken language

An alphabet is a standard set of letters that represent the phonemes of any spoken language it is used to write. This is in contrast to other types of writing systems, such as syllabaries and logographic systems.

Contents

Spanish uses capital letters much less often than English; they are not used on adjectives derived from proper nouns (e.g. francés, español, israelí from Francia, España, and Israel, respectively) and book titles capitalize only the first word (e.g. La rebelión de las masas ).

The Revolt of the Masses is a book by José Ortega y Gasset. It was first published as a series of articles in the newspaper El Sol in 1929, and as a book in 1930; the English translation, first published two years later, was authorized by Ortega. While the published version notes that the translator requested to remain anonymous, more recent editions also record that its US copyright was renewed in 1960 by a Teresa Carey, and the US Copyright Office's published list of US copyright renewals for January 1960 gives the translator as J. R. Carey.

Spanish uses only the acute accent, over any vowel: á é í ó ú. This accent is used to mark the tonic (stressed) syllable, though it may also be used occasionally to distinguish homophones such as si ('if') and ('yes'). The only other diacritics used are the tilde on the letter ñ, which is considered a separate letter from n, and the diaeresis used in the sequences güe and güi—as in bilingüe ('bilingual')—to indicate that the u is pronounced, [w], rather than having the usual silent role that it plays in unmarked gue and gui.

In linguistics, and particularly phonology, stress or accent is relative emphasis or prominence given to a certain syllable in a word, or to a certain word in a phrase or sentence. This emphasis is typically caused by such properties as increased loudness and vowel length, full articulation of the vowel, and changes in pitch. The terms stress and accent are often used synonymously in this context, but they are sometimes distinguished. For example, when emphasis is produced through pitch alone, it is called pitch accent, and when produced through length alone, it is called quantitative accent. When caused by a combination of various intensified properties, it is called stress accent or dynamic accent; English uses what is called variable stress accent.

The diaeresis and the umlaut are two homoglyphic diacritical marks that consist of two dots ( ¨ ) placed over a letter, usually a vowel. When that letter is an i or a j, the diacritic replaces the tittle: ï.

In contrast with English, Spanish has an official body that governs linguistic rules, orthography among them: the Royal Spanish Academy, which makes periodic changes to orthography. It is the policy of the Royal Spanish Academy that, when quoting older texts, one should update spelling to the current rules, except in discussions of the history of the Spanish language.[ citation needed ]

Alphabet in Spanish

The Spanish language is written using the Spanish alphabet, which is the Latin script with one additional letter: eñe "ñ", for a total of 27 letters. [1] Although the letters "k" and "w" are part of the alphabet, they appear only in loanwords such as karate , kilo , waterpolo and wolframio (tungsten). Each letter has a single official name according to the Real Academia Española's new 2010 Common Orthography, [2] but in some regions alternative traditional names coexist as explained below. The digraphs "ch" and "ll" were considered letters of the alphabet from 1754 to 2010 (and sorted separately from "c" and "l" from 1803 to 1994). [3]

Latin script Writing system used to write most European languages

Latin or Roman script, is a set of graphic signs (script) based on the letters of the classical Latin alphabet. This is derived from a form of the Cumaean Greek version of the Greek alphabet used by the Etruscans.

Ñ letter of the modern Latin alphabet, formed by an N with a diacritical tilde

Ñ is a letter of the modern Latin alphabet, formed by placing a tilde on top of an upper- or lowercase N. It became part of the Spanish alphabet in the eighteenth century when it was first formally defined, but it is also used in other languages such as Galician, Asturian, the Aragonese Grafía de Uesca, Basque, Chavacano, some Philippine languages, Chamorro, Guarani, Quechua, Mapudungun, Mandinka, and Tetum alphabets, as well as in Latin transliteration of Tocharian and Sanskrit, where it represents. It represents in Crimean Tatar and Classical Malay. In Breton and in Rohingya, it denotes nasalization of the preceding vowel.

Spanish alphabet
Letter A B C 1 D E F G H I
Namea [4] be (alternative: be larga, be alta) [4] ce [4] de [4] e [4] efe [4] ge [4] hache [4] i [4]
Phoneme(s)/a//b//k/, /θ/ 2 /d//e//f//ɡ/, /x/silent 3 /i/

^1 The digraph ch represents the affricate /tʃ/. The digraph was formerly treated as a single letter, called che.

^2 The phonemes /θ/ and /s/ are not distinguished in most dialects; see seseo .

^3 With the exception of some loanwords: hámster , hachís , hawaiano , which have /x/.

Letter J K L M N Ñ O P Q
Namejota [4] ka [4] ele [4] eme [4] ene [4] eñe [4] o [4] pe [4] cu [4]
Phoneme(s)/x//k//l/ 4 /m//n//ɲ//o//p//k/ 5

^4 The digraph ll (e.g. calle ) represents the palatal lateral /ʎ/ in a few dialects; but in most dialects—because of the historical merger called yeísmo—it, like the letter y, represents the phoneme /ʝ/.

^5 Used only in the digraph qu.

Letter R 6 S T U V W X Y Z
Nameerreeseteuuve, ve, ve corta, ve bajauve doble, ve doble, doble ve, doble uequisye, i griegazeta
Phoneme(s)/ɾ/, /r//s//t//u//b//w/, /b//ks/, /s/ 7 /ʝ/, /i//θ/ 2

^6 The digraph rr, which only appears between vowels, represents the trill /r/.

^7 Old orthography with the letter x representing /x/ has been preserved in some proper names such as México.

For details on Spanish pronunciation, see Spanish phonology and Help:IPA/Spanish.

When acute accent and diaeresis marks are used on vowels (á, é, í, ó, ú and ü) they are considered variants of the plain vowel letters, but ñ is considered a separate letter from n. This makes a difference when sorting alphabetically: ñ appears in dictionaries after n. For example, in a Spanish dictionary piñata comes after pinza .

There are five digraphs: ch ("che" or "ce hache"), ll ("elle" or "doble ele"), rr ("doble erre"), gu ("ge u") and qu ("cu u"). [5] [6] [7] While che and elle were formerly treated each as a single letter, [1] in 1994 the tenth congress of the Association of Spanish Language Academies, by request of UNESCO and other international organizations, agreed to alphabetize ch and ll as ordinary sequences of letters. Thus, for example, in dictionaries, chico is alphabetized after centro and before ciudad, instead of being alphabetized after all words beginning with cu- as was formerly done. [8] Despite their former status as unitary letters of the alphabet, ch and ll have always been treated as sequences with regard to the rules of capitalization. Thus the word chillón in a text written in all caps is CHILLÓN, not *ChILlÓN, and if it is the first word of a sentence, it is written Chillón, not *CHillón. Sometimes, one finds lifts with buttons marked LLamar , but this double capitalization has always been incorrect according to RAE rules.

This is the list of letters from most to least frequent in Spanish texts: E A O S R N I D L C T U M P B G V Y Q H F Z J Ñ X W K; [9] the vowels take around 45% of the text.

Alternative names

Fraktur letter B.png
Fraktur letter V.png
Sv-cursive-small-letter-b.jpg
Sv-cursive-small-letter-v.jpg
The be larga/grande/alta and ve corta/chica/baja in blackletter and cursive scripts.
B and V [1]
The letters b and v were originally simply known as be and ve , which in modern Spanish are pronounced identically. In Old Spanish, they likely represented different sounds but the sounds merged later. Their usual names are be and uve; [10] [11] in some regions, speakers may instead add something to the names to distinguish them. Some Mexicans and most Peruvians generally say be grande / chica ('big B' / 'little V'); Argentines, Uruguayans and Chileans, be larga / corta ('long B' / 'short V'). Some people give examples of words spelt with the letter; e.g., b de burro / v de vaca ('b as in burro ' / 'v as in vaca '); Colombians tend to say be grande for B and ve pequeña for V. In Venezuela, they call B b de Bolívar and V v de Venezuela , or be alta and ve baja ('tall B' / 'short V'). Regardless of these regional differences, all Spanish-speaking people recognize be as the official name of B.
R [1]
The digraph rr is sometimes called doble erre or erre doble. It is sometimes suggested that the name of the letter r be ere when it is single, and erre when it is double, but the dictionary of the Real Academia Española defines the name of r as erre. Ere is considered obsolete. [12] The name ere was used when referring specifically to the alveolar tap /ɾ/ and erre referring to the alveolar trill /r/. The two contrast between vowels, with the latter being represented with rr, but the sounds are otherwise in complementary distribution so that a single r may represent either. As a referent to the trill sound rather than the phoneme, erre can refer to a single or double r.
W [1]
In Latin American Spanish, w is sometimes called doble ve, ve doble, or doble uve. In Colombia and Mexico, because of English acculturation, the letter is usually called doble u (like English "double u"). In Spain it is usually called uve doble. In the Spanish pronunciation of acronyms like "BMW", it is simplified as be eme uve. [13] [ additional citation(s) needed ]
I
Because of its origin, i is occasionally known as i latina ("Latin i") to distinguish it from y, which is known as i griega ("Greek i").
Y [1]
The most common name for y in Spain is i griega, but in Latin American Spanish it has been commonly superseded by ye, in an effort to standardize on a one-word name, as opposed to a name consisting of two words. Using ye as the only name for the letter is one of the newest proposed changes specified by the 2010 new common orthography. [1]
Z [1]
The name for z is zeta (formerly ceta, pronounced the same). [14] In older Spanish, it was called zeda or ceda, and the diminutive form of this word, cedilla , is now used in both Spanish and English to refer to the diacritic mark exhibited in the letter ç.

Other characters

Besides the letters, other characters are specially associated with Spanish-language texts:

Orthography

Spanish orthography is such that the pronunciation of most words is unambiguous given their written form; the main exception is the letter x, which usually represents /ks/ or /s/, but can also represent /x/ or /ʃ/, especially in proper nouns from times of Old Spanish, as in México or Pedro Ximénez (both /x/). These orthographic rules are similar to, but not the same as, those of other Romance languages of the Iberian Peninsula, such as Portuguese, Catalan and Galician.

The converse does not always hold, i.e. for a given pronunciation there may be multiple possible spellings. The main issues are:

Use of different letters for the same sound
soundbefore e/ielsewhere
/θ/ or /s/c (or z in some loanwords) or sz or s
/k/qu (or k in some loanwords)c (or k in some loanwords)
/kw/cu
/x/g or j (or x in Mexico)j (or x in Mexico)
/ɡ/gug
/ɡw/gu

Consonants

Consonants
LetterContext IPA ExamplesEnglish approximation
b or vword-initial after a pause, or after m or n[ b ] bestia ; embuste ; vaca ; envidia practically the same as the typical English b, except that it is fully voiced; e.g. about
elsewhere (i.e. after a vowel, even across a word boundary, or after any consonant other than m or n)[ β ] bebé ; obtuso ; vivir ; curva ; mi bebé ; mi vaca [15] between baby and bevy (like the typical English v, but with the upper lip in place of the upper teeth)
cbefore e or i[ θ ](central and northern Spain) or
[ s ](most other regions) [16]
cereal ; encima same as the English voiceless ⟨th⟩ (as in thing) in central and northern Spain,
or the typical English s (as in sass) in all other regions
elsewhere[ k ] casa ; claro ; vaca; escudo same as certain instances of English k or c; e.g. skull, scan, or picking (unaspirated, i.e. without the puff of air that accompanies English /k/ at the beginning of a word, e.g. in can)
before voiced consonants[ ɣ ] anécdota a sound between a light English g and the typical English h (between gold and ahold)
cheverywhere [17] [ ] or [ ʃ ](depending upon the dialect) ocho ; chícharo same as the typical English ch; church
dword-initial after a pause, or after l or n[ d ] dedo ; cuando ; aldaba practically the same as the typical English d, except that it is fully voiced and the tip of the tongue touches the upper teeth; e.g. adore
elsewhere[ ð ] diva ; arder ; admirar ; mi dedo ; verdad [15] same as the typical English voiced ⟨th⟩; e.g. this
feverywhere[ f ] fase ; café same as the typical English f; e.g. face
gbefore e or i[ x ] or [ h ] general similar to a "strong" English h-sound (e.g. the ch in Scottish loch or in German Bach) or aspirated h (as in heaven)
not before e or i, and either word-initial after a pause, or after n[ ɡ ] gato ; grande ; vengo practically the same as the typical English g sound, except that it is fully voiced; e.g. ago
not before e or i, and not in the above contexts[ ɣ ] trigo ; amargo ; signo ; mi gato [15] a sound between a light English g and the typical English h (between gold and ahold)
gubefore a or o, and either word-initial after a pause, or after n[ɡw] guante ; lengua a sound like the gu in English penguin
before a or o, and not in the above contexts[ɣw] agua ; averiguar [15] similar to the typical English w, but preceded by a soft guttural sound
before e or i, and either word-initial after a pause, or after n[ ɡ ] guerra practically the same as the typical English g sound, except that it is fully voiced; e.g. ago
before e or i, and not in the above contexts[ ɣ ] sigue [15] a sound between a light English g and the typical English h (between gold and ahold)
before e or i, and either word-initial after a pause, or after n[ɡw] ero , pinino a sound like the gu in English penguin
before e or i, and not in the above contexts[ɣw] averie [15] similar to the typical English w, but preceded by a soft guttural sound
heverywhere(silent) [18] hoy ; hacer ; prohibir ; huevo ; hielo silent (like the English h in English honor or hour)
everywhere; occurs in loanwords and foreign proper names[ x ] or [ h ]hámster, hawaiano, hachís, yihad , harakiri , Yokohama similar to a "strong" English h-sound (e.g. the ch in Scottish loch or in German Bach) or aspirated h (as in heaven)
hibefore a vowel[ j ] or [ ʝ ] hierba ; hielosimilar to or the same as the typical English y; e.g. you (but often more strongly pronounced, sometimes resembling the English j, as in jam)
hubefore a vowel[ w ] hueso ; huevo [19] same as the typical English w; we (sometimes sounds closer to the English gw, like in Gwen, or bw, like in cobweb)
jeverywhere[ x ] or [ h ] jamón ; eje ; reloj ; [20] similar to a "strong" English h-sound (e.g. the ch in Scottish loch or in German Bach) or aspirated h (as in heaven)
krare; only occurs in a few loanwords[ k ] kilo , karate same as certain instances of English k or c; e.g. skull, scan, or picking (unaspirated, i.e. without the puff of air that accompanies English /k/ at the beginning of a word, e.g. in can)
leverywhere[ l ] lino ; alhaja ; principal same as the typical English l (especially like the clear l of British English, rather than the dark l of American English);e.g. lull
lleverywhere[ ʎ ], [ ʝ ] or [ ](depending upon the dialect) llave ; pollo similar to the lli in English million (in some dialects simplified to a sound between the typical English y and j, e.g. between yes and Jess)
meverywhere except word-finally[ m ] madre ; comer ; campo [21] same as the typical English m; madam
word-final[ n ] or [ ŋ ](depending upon the dialect) álbum varying between the typical English n and ng, e.g. the ng in English sing
n sin
everywhere but before other consonants[ n ] nido ; anillo ; anhelo same as the typical English n; e.g. nun
before other consonants [21] [ m ]
[ ɱ ]
[ n ]
[ ɲ ]
[ ŋ ]
invierno
confite
mundo
enyesar
cinco
same as the typical English m; madam
same as the English m in symphony
same as the typical English n (as in nun )
same as the English ny in canyon
same as the typical English ng (as in sink or sing)
ñeverywhere[ ɲ ] ñandú ; cabaña [21] roughly like canyon
peverywhere[ p ] pozo ; topo ; esposa same as certain instances of English p; e.g. span or typing (unaspirated, i.e. without the puff of air that accompanies English /p/ at the beginning of a word, e.g. in pan)
quonly occurs before e or i[ k ] quise same as certain instances of English k or c; e.g. skull, scan, or picking (unaspirated, i.e. without the puff of air that accompanies English /k/ at the beginning of a word, e.g. in can)
rword-initial, morpheme-initial, [22]
or after l, n, or s, or syllable-final (especially before l, m, n, or s) and word-final positions (before pause or consonant-initial words only)
[ r ] rumbo ; honra ; Israel ; subrayar ; invierno; persona; verde; carta ; amor purotrilled or rolled r
elsewhere (sometimes word-initial (after a pause or consonant-ending words only), morpheme-initial (when preceded by prefixes ending in consonants), or after l, n, or s, or syllable-final positions, and word-final positions before vowel-initial words only)[ ɾ ] caro ; cabra ; bravo ; rumbo ; honra ; Israel ; subrayar ; invierno; persona; verde; carta ; amor puro; amor eternoflapped r; e.g. the same sound as the dd of ladder or tt of latter in American English
rronly occurs between vowels[ r ] carro trilled or rolled r
sbefore a voiced consonant (e.g. l, m, d)[ z ] isla ; mismo ; desde ; deshuesar [23] same as the typical English z; e.g. the s in is or busy; in central and northern Spain, Paisa region of Colombia, and Andes, this sound is made with the tip of the tongue rather than the blade, with a sound quality intermediate between the alveolar [z] of English busy and the palato-alveolar [ʒ] of pleasure
everywhere else[ s ] saco ; casa ; deshora ; espita [23] same as the typical English s; sass; in central and northern Spain, Paisa region of Colombia, and Andes, this sound is made with the tip of the tongue rather than the blade, with a sound quality intermediate between the alveolar [s] of English sea and the palato-alveolar [ʃ] of she
shNot considered to be a Spanish digraph (hence words like sherpa, show, flash are considered extranjerismos crudos), but used in proper names from other languages, some of them being accentuated in the Spanish manner (names from Native American languages or from languages using non-Latin writing systems)[ ʃ ] or [ ] (sometimes [ s ]) Áncash; Shanghái; shiitake, shah , Washingtonsame as the typical English sh;e.g. sheesh; when this digraph is equated with the phoneme /s/ (typically in northern and central Spain, Paisa region of Colombia, and Andes), the sound is made with the tip of the tongue rather than the blade, with a sound quality intermediate between the alveolar [s] of English sea and the palato-alveolar [ʃ] of she
teverywhere[ t ] tamiz ; átomo same as certain instances of English t; e.g. stand (unaspirated, i.e. without the puff of air that accompanies English /t/ at the beginning of a word, e.g. in tan). Also, the tip of the tongue touches the upper teeth, rather than the alveolar ridge
before voiced consonants[ ð ] atmósfera same as the typical English voiced ⟨th⟩; e.g. this
tlrare; mostly in loanwords from Nahuatl [tl] or [ ] tlapalería ; cenzontle ; Popocatépetl similar to the combined tl sound in English cat-like
txrare; from loanwords[ ] pintxo same as "ch".
tzrare; from loanwords[ ts ] quetzal ; tzcuaro same as the "ts" in English cats
wrare; in loanwords from English[w] waterpolo when (sometimes turn to /gw/ or /bw/) [19]
rare; in loanwords from German and in Visigothic names[b] 1 wolframio ; Wamba same as the typical English b; e.g. bib
xbetween vowels and word-finally[ks] exacto ; taxi ; relax same as the typical English x; e.g. taxi
word-initially[ s ] xenofobia same as the typical English s; sass; in central and northern Spain, Paisa region of Colombia, and Andes, this sound is made with the tip of the tongue rather than the blade, with a sound quality intermediate between the alveolar [s] of English sea and the palato-alveolar [ʃ] of she
before a consonant[ks] or [ s ] extremo [23] [24] same as the typical English x or s; e.g. max or mass
in some words borrowed from Nahuatl, mostly place names, and in some Spanish proper names conserving archaic spelling[ x ] or [ h ] xico ; Oaxaca ; xiote; Texas; La Axarquía; Ximena; Ximénez; Mexíasimilar to a "strong" English h-sound (e.g. the ch in Scottish loch or in German Bach) or aspirated h (as in heaven)
in some words from indigenous American languages, mostly place names[ ʃ ] or [ ] (sometimes [ s ]) Xela; xocoyotesame as the typical English sh; e.g. sheesh; when this is equated with the phoneme /s/ (typically in northern and central Spain, Paisa region of Colombia, and Andes), the sound is made with the tip of the tongue rather than the blade, with a sound quality intermediate between the alveolar [s] of English sea and the palato-alveolar [ʃ] of she
yas a semivowel (almost always in a diphthong)[ i ] or [ j ] hay , soy same as the typical English y (but joined in a single syllable with another vowel sound); aye, boy
as a consonant[ j ], [ ʝ ], or [ ] ya ; yelmo ; ayuno [15] similar to the typical English y, or j but softer; e.g. similar to yes or Jess
zusually does not occur before e or i[ θ ](central and northern Spain) or
[ s ](most other regions) [16]
zorro ; paz ; caza same as the English voiceless ⟨th⟩ (as in thing) in central and northern Spain,
or the typical English s (as in sass) in all other regions
before voiced consonants[ ð ](central and northern Spain) or[ z ](most other regions) [16] jazmín , juzgado , Aznarsame as the typical English voiced ⟨th⟩; e.g. this in central and northern Spain,
or the typical English z; e.g. the s in is or busy;
  1. ^ Orthographic <w> in names of Visigothic origin is thought to have been pronounced [β] in Old Spanish (in which /b/ and /β/ are separate phonemes); /β/ is also spelled <v> in Old Spanish. See History of Spanish#Merger of /b/ and /v/.

The only consonant letters that can be doubled in the Spanish orthography are "l", "r" (as the digraphs "ll" and "rr"), "c" (only when the two "c"s have different sounds: acción, diccionario), "n" (e.g. innato, perenne, connotar, dígannos), and "b" (in a few words with the prefix sub-: subbase, subbético). Exceptions are gamma (and its derivatives gammaglobulina, gammagrafía), digamma, kappa, atto-, as well as unadapted foreign words (including proper names) and their derivations (see below).

Vowels

Vowels
Letter IPA ExamplesEnglish approximation
a[ a ] azahar spa
e[ e ] vehemente bet
i[ i ] dimitir ; mío see
y y
o[ o ] boscoso between coat (American more than British) and caught
u[ u ] cucurucho ; dúo food
Semivowels [25]
IPA SpellingExamplesEnglish approximation
[ j ]i before a vowel aliada ; cielo ; amplio ; ciudad you
[ w ]u before a vowel
(but silent in qu, also gu before an e or i)
cuadro ; fuego ; Huila ; [19] arduo wine

The letter Y

The letter "y" is consistently used in the consonantal value. The use of the letter "y" for a vowel or a semivowel is very restricted. The diphthongs ai, ei, oi, ui are usually written ay, ey, oy, uy at the end of words (e. g. hay, ley, voy, muy), though exceptions may occur in loanwords (e.g. bonsái, agnusdéi). The letter y is conserved in rarely used encliticized verbal forms like doyte, haylas (it is more normal to say te doy, las hay). The letter "y" is used for the vowel /i/ in the conjunction y and in some acronyms, like pyme (from pequeña y mediana empresa). Otherwise, "y" for a vowel or semivowel occurs only in some archaically-spelled proper names and their derivations: Guaymas, guaymeño, and also fraybentino (from Fray Bentos with regular usage of "y" in a word-final diphthong). Derivatives of foreign proper names also conserve "y": taylorismo, from Taylor.

Special and modified letters

The vowels can be marked with an acute accent—á, é, í, ó, ú, ý—for two purposes: to mark stress if it does not follow the most common pattern, or to differentiate words that are otherwise spelled identically (called the tilde diacrítica in Spanish). The accented "y" is found only in some proper names: Aýna, Laýna, Ýñiguez.

A silent "u" is used between "g" and "e" or "i" to indicate a hard "g" pronunciation, so that "gue" represents /ɡe/ and "gui" represents /ɡi/. The letter "ü" ("u" with diaeresis) is used in this context to indicate that the "u" is not silent, e.g. pingüino /pinˈgwino/. The diaeresis may occur also in Spanish poetry, occasionally, over either vowel of a diphthong, to indicate an irregular disyllabic pronunciation required by the meter ( vïuda , to be pronounced as three syllables). This is analogous to the use of "ï" in naïve in English.

Also a silent "u" always follows a "q" when followed by "e" or "i", as in queso , química , but there is no case for the combination "qü", with "cu" fulfilling this role (as in cuestión ). There are no native words in Spanish with the combination "qua" nor "quo"; again, "cu" is used instead ( cuando ). When they appear, usually from Latin idioms such as statu quo , the "u" is always pronounced, so "ü" is never needed after "q". Prior to the introduction of the 2010 Common Orthography words such as cuórum ('quorum'), cuásar ('quasar') or Catar ('Qatar') were spelled with "q"; this is no longer so.

Keyboard requirements

To write Spanish on a typewriter or to set type, the special characters required are á, é, í, ó, ú, ñ, Ñ, ü, Ü, ¿, and ¡. The uppercase Á, É, Í, Ó, and Ú are also prescribed by the RAE, although occasionally dispensed with in practice.

As implemented on the mechanical typewriter, the keyboard contained a single dead key, with the acute accent ( ´ ) in the lowercase position, and the diaeresis ( ¨ ) in the uppercase position. With these, one could write á, é, í, ó, ú, and ü. A separate key provided ñ/Ñ. (A dead key "~" is used on the Spanish and Portuguese keyboards, but on the Latin American keyboard the "~" is not a dead key). The inverted marks "¿" and "¡" completed the required minimum. When an additional key was added to electro-mechanical typewriters, this was used for "ª" and "º", though these are not required. (They are somewhat archaic ordinal abbreviations: "1.º" for primero, "2.ª" for segunda, etc.)

As implemented in the MS-DOS operating system and its successor Microsoft Windows, a ç/Ç pair—not required in Spanish but needed for Catalan, Portuguese, and French—is typically added, and the use of the acute accent and diaeresis with capital letters (Á, É, Í, Ó, Ú, Ü) is supported. Although not needed for Spanish, another dead key with "`" (the grave accent) in lowercase position and "^" (the circumflex accent) in uppercase position was included. Also available is "·" (the "flying point", required in Catalan). To make room for these characters not on the standard English keyboard, characters used primarily in programming, science, and mathematics—"[" and "]", "{" and "}", "/" and "", "|", and "<" and ">"—are removed, requiring special keystroke sequences to access.

Stress and accentuation

Stress in Spanish is marked unequivocally through a series of orthographic rules. The default stress is on the penultimate (next-to-last) syllable on words that end in a vowel, n or s and on the final syllable when the word ends in any consonant other than n or s. Words that do not follow the default stress have an acute accent over the stressed vowel. The written accent will thus appear only in certain forms of a word and not others, for example andén, plural andenes. In many cases the accent is essential to understanding what a word means, for example hablo (I speak) as opposed to habló (he/she/Ud. spoke).

For purposes of counting syllables and assigning stress in Spanish, where an unmarked high vowel is followed by another vowel the sequence is treated as a rising diphthong, counted as a single syllable—unlike Portuguese and Catalan, which tend to treat such a sequence as two syllables. [26] A syllable is of the form XAXX, where X represents a consonant, permissible consonant cluster, or no sound at all, and A represents a vowel, diphthong, or triphthong. A diphthong is any sequence of an unstressed high vowel (i or u) with another vowel (as in gracias or náutico ), and a triphthong is any combination of three vowels beginning and ending with unstressed high vowels (as in cambiáis or buey ). Hence Spanish writes familia (no accent), while Portuguese and Catalan both put an accent mark on família (all three languages stress the first i). The letter h is not considered an interruption between vowels (so that ahumar is considered to have two syllables: ahu-mar; this may vary in some regions, where h is used as a hiatus or diphthong-broking mark for unstressed vowels, so the pronunciation would be then a-hu-mar, though that trait is gradually disappearing).

An accent over the high vowel (i or u) of a vowel sequence prevents it from being a diphthong (i.e., it signals a hiatus): for example, tía and país have two syllables each.

A word with final stress is called oxytone (or aguda in traditional Spanish grammar texts); a word with penultimate stress is called paroxytone ( llana or grave ); a word with antepenultimate stress (stress on the third-to-last syllable) is called proparoxytone ( esdrújula ). A word with preantepenultimate stress (on the fourth last syllable) or earlier does not have a common linguistic term in English, but in Spanish receives the name sobresdrújula . (Spanish words can be stressed only on one of the last three syllables, except in the case of a verb form with enclitic pronouns, such as poniéndoselo .) All proparoxytones and sobresdrújulas have a written accent mark.

Adjectives spelled with a written accent (such as fácil , geográfico , cortés ) keep the written accent when they are made into adverbs with the -mente ending (thus fácilmente , geográficamente , cortésmente ), and do not gain any if they do not have one (thus libremente from libre ). In the pronunciation of these adverbs—as with all adverbs in -mente —primary stress is on the ending, on the penultimate syllable. The original stress of the adjective—whether marked, as in fácilmente, or not marked, as in libremente—may be manifested as a secondary stress in the adverb.

Accentuation of capital letters

The Real Academia Española indicates that accents are required on capitals (but not when the capitals are used in acronyms). [27]

Differential accents

Blackboard used in a university classroom shows students' efforts at placing "u" and acute accent diacritic used in Spanish orthography. Spanish orthography.jpg
Blackboard used in a university classroom shows students' efforts at placing "ü" and acute accent diacritic used in Spanish orthography.

In a number of cases, homonyms are distinguished with written accents on the stressed (or only) syllable: for example, te (informal object case of 'you') vs. ('tea'); se (third person reflexive) vs. ('I know' or imperative 'be'); tu (informal 'your') vs. (informal subject case of 'you'). When relative and interrogative pronouns have the same letters (as is often the case), the interrogative pronoun is accented and the relative pronoun is not:

¿A dónde vas? 'Where are you going?'
A donde no puedas encontrarme. 'Where you cannot find me.'

The use of ó is poetic for the vocative: ¡Ó señor! The use of ó for the word o (meaning 'or') is a hypercorrection. Up until 2010, ó was used when applied to numbers: 7 ó 9 ('7 or 9'), to avoid possible confusion with the digit 0. The tenth congress of the Association of Spanish Language Academies deemed the use of an accent unnecessary, as typewriting eliminates possible confusion due to the different shapes of 0 (zero) and o (the letter). [1]

These diacritics are often called acentos diacríticos or tildes diacríticas in traditional Spanish grammar.

Foreign words

Loanwords in Spanish are usually written according to Spanish spelling conventions (extranjerismos adaptados): e.g. pádel, fútbol, chófer, máster, cederrón ('CD-ROM'). However, some foreign words (extranjerismos crudos) are used in Spanish texts in their original forms, not conforming to Spanish orthographic conventions: e.g. ballet, blues, jazz, jeep, lady, pizza, sheriff, software. The RAE prescribes extranjerismos crudos to be written in italics in a text printed in roman type, and vice versa, and in quotation marks in a manuscript text or when italics are not available:

Quiero escuchar jazz y comer pizza.
Quiero escuchar jazz y comer pizza.
Quiero escuchar "jazz" y comer "pizza".

In practice, this RAE prescription is not always followed.

This typographical emphasis is not used for foreign proper names and their derivations; nor is it used for some Spanish derivations of extranjerismos crudos, such as pizzería.

Capitalization

Capitalization in Spanish is sparse compared to English. In general, only personal and place names, some abbreviations (e.g. Sr. López, but señor López); the first word (only) in the title of a book, movie, song, etc. (except when the title contains only two words, then the second word is also sometimes capitalized); and the first word in a sentence are capitalized, as are names of companies, government bodies, etc. Names of nationalities or languages are not capitalized, nor (in standard style) are days of the week and months of the year. [28] [29]

Older conventions

The Spanish Royal Academy has reformed the orthographic rules of Spanish many times.

In Old Spanish, x was used to represent the voiceless palatal sound /ʃ/ (as in dixo 'he/she said'), while j represented the voiced palatal /ʒ/ (as in fijo 'son'). With the changes of sibilants in the 16th century, the two sounds merged as /ʃ/ (later to become velar /x/), and the letter j was chosen for the single resulting phoneme in 1815. This results in some words that originally contained x now containing j, most easily seen in the case of those with English cognates, such as ejercicio, "exercise". When Cervantes wrote Don Quixote he spelled the name in the old way (and English preserves the x), but modern editions in Spanish spell it with j. For the use of x in Mexico—and in the name México itself—see below.

The letter ç (c-cedilla)—which was first used in Old Spanish—is now obsolete in Spanish, having merged with z in a process similar to that of x and j. Old Spanish coraçon , cabeça , fuerça became modern corazón , cabeza , fuerza .

Words formerly spelled with ze or zi (such as catorze , dezir , and vezino ) are now written with ce and ci ( catorce , decir , vecino , respectively). The sequences ze and zi do not occur in modern Spanish except some loanwords: zeugma , zigurat , zipizape ; some borrowed words have double spellings: zinc / cinc . [30]

The old spellings with ç, ze, and zi remained in use until the eighteenth century. They were replaced by z, ce, and ci, respectively in 1726. [31] Ze and zi continued to be used in some words due to their etymology (e.g. zelo , zizaña ), but this usage was largely reduced during the 1860—1880s, so these words became celo and cizaña . The letter x was replaced by j in 1815, [32] although word-final x remained until 1832 (e.g. relox , now reloj ). [33] The combinations je and ji were originally used only in a few etymological cases (e.g. Jesús , Jeremías ) and also in diminutives ( pajita ); after the reform of 1815, xe and xi were replaced by ge and gi in the Ortografía but by je and ji in the Diccionario; since 1832, the spelling was firmly established to be je and ji. Also, unetymological spellings with ge, gi (that is, words that did not have g in Latin) were changed to je, ji (e.g. muger , from Latin mulier , became mujer ).

Old Spanish used to distinguish /s/ and /z/ between vowels, and it distinguished them by using ss for the former and s for the latter, e.g. osso ('bear') and oso ('I dare to'). In orthography, the distinction was suppressed in 1763. [34]

Words spelled in modern Spanish with cua, cuo (e.g. cuando , cuatro , cuota ) were written with qua, quo up until 1815. [32]

A church in Nigran, marked as
.mw-parser-output .smallcaps{font-variant:small-caps}
YGLESIA DE REFUGIO, "Sanctuary church". Santiago de Parada, Nigran, YGLESIA DE REFVGIO 1835.jpg
A church in Nigrán, marked as YGLESIA DE REFUGIO, "Sanctuary church".

In 1726, most double consonants were simplified (e.g. grammatica gramática , addicion adición ) [31] —but the m of a prefix before the m of a root was differentiated to n in 1763 (e.g. " commover conmover "). [34] And the Graeco-Latin digraphs ch, ph, (r)rh and th were reduced to c, f, (r)r and t, respectively (e.g. christiano cristiano , triumpho triunfo , myrrha mirra , theatro teatro ). An earlier usage had Y as a word initial I. It is only maintained in the archaic spelling of proper names like Yglesias or Ybarra .

Cover of the first volume of the Diccionario de autoridades, showing obsolete usages like "Phelipe", "esta", "Impressor". Autoridades.jpg
Cover of the first volume of the Diccionario de autoridades, showing obsolete usages like "Phelipe", "eſta", "Impreſsór".

In early printing, the long s ſ was a different version of s used at the beginning or in the middle of a word. In Spain, the change to use a round s everywhere as in the current usage was mainly accomplished between the years 1760 and 1766; for example, the multi-volume España Sagrada made the switch with volume 16 (1762).

From 1741 [35] to 1815, the circumflex was used over vowels to indicate that preceding ch and x should be pronounced /k/ and /ks/ respectively and not /tʃ/ and /x/, e.g. exâctitud , patriarchâ .

The use of accent marks in publishing varies with different historical periods, due mainly to reforms promulgated by the Spanish Royal Academy. For example, many of the words that are today standardly written with an accent mark appeared more often without it up until around 1880. These include words with final stress ending in -n (e.g. capitán , también , jardín , acción , común —but not future-tense verb forms like serán , tendrán ); [36] [37] verbs in the imperfect tense (e.g. tenía , vivían ); [38] the possessives mío and mía; [39] and the word día . [40] Meanwhile, one-letter words other than the conjunction y—namely the preposition a and the conjunctions e (the form of y before an [i] sound), o, and u (form of o before [o])—are generally written with accent marks from the mid-1700s to 1911. [41] [42] [43] The accent-marked infinitive oír begins to outnumber the unaccented form around 1920. [44] Monosyllabic preterit verb forms such as dio and fue were usually written with accent marks before the 1950s. [45]

The names of numbers in the upper teens and the twenties were originally written as three words (e.g. diez y seis , veinte y nueve ), but nowadays they have come to be spelled predominantly as a single word (e.g. dieciséis , veintinueve ). For the numbers from 21 to 29, the "fused" forms emerged over the second half of the 19th century. [46] For those from 16 to 19, the one-word forms took the lead in the 1940s. [47] Fusing of number-names above 30 (e.g. treintaicinco , cuarentaiocho ) [48] is rare.

Reform proposals

In spite of the relatively regular orthography of Spanish, there have been several initiatives to simplify it further. Andrés Bello succeeded in making his proposal official in several South American countries, but they later returned to the standard set by the Real Academia Española. [49] Another initiative, Alberto M. Brambila's Ortografía Fonetika R̃asional Ispanoamerikana, remained a curiosity. [50] [51] Juan Ramón Jiménez proposed changing ge and gi to je and ji, but this is only applied in editions of his works or those of his wife, Zenobia Camprubí. Gabriel García Márquez raised the issue of reform during a congress at Zacatecas, most notoriously advocating for the suppression of h, which is mute in Spanish, but, despite his prestige, no serious changes were adopted. The Academies, however, from time to time have made minor changes, such as allowing este instead of éste ('this one'), when there is no possible confusion.

A Mexican Spanish convention is to spell certain indigenous words with x rather than the j that would be the standard spelling in Spanish. This is generally due to the origin of the word (or the present pronunciation) containing the voiceless postalveolar fricative /ʃ/ sound or another sibilant that is not used in modern standard Spanish. The most noticeable word with this feature is México (see Toponymy of Mexico). The Real Academia Española recommends this spelling. [52] The American Spanish colloquial term chicano is shortened from mechicano, which uses /tʃ/ in place of the /ʃ/ of rural Mexican Spanish /meʃiˈkano/.

Punctuation

Spanish has the unusual feature of indicating the beginning of an interrogative or exclamatory sentence or phrase with inverted variants of the question mark and exclamation mark (¿ and ¡), respectively. Most languages that use the Latin alphabet (including Spanish) use question and exclamation marks at the end of sentences and clauses. These inverted forms appear additionally at the beginning of these sentences or clauses. For example, the English phrase "How old are you?" has just the final question mark, while the Spanish equivalent, ¿Cuántos años tienes? begins with an inverted question mark.

The inverted question and exclamation marks were gradually adopted following the Real Academia's recommendations in the second edition of the Ortografía de la lengua castellana in 1754.

Arabic alphabet

In the 15th and 16th centuries, dialectal Spanish (as well as Portuguese and Ladino) was sometimes written in the Arabic alphabet by moriscos. This form of writing is called aljamiado.

See also

Related Research Articles

A diacritic – also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent – is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. The term derives from the Ancient Greek διακριτικός, from διακρίνω. Diacritic is primarily an adjective, though sometimes used as a noun, whereas diacritical is only ever an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute ( ´ ) and grave ( ` ), are often called accents. Diacritical marks may appear above or below a letter, or in some other position such as within the letter or between two letters.

English orthography is the system of writing conventions used to represent spoken English in written form that allows readers to connect spelling to sound to meaning.

Y letter of the Latin alphabet

Y is the 25th and penultimate letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. In the English writing system, it sometimes represents a vowel and sometimes a consonant.

Royal Spanish Academy

The Royal Spanish Academy is Spain's official royal institution with a mission to ensure the stability of the Spanish language. It is based in Madrid, Spain, but is affiliated with national language academies in 22 other hispanophone nations through the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language. The RAE's emblem is a fiery crucible, and its motto is "Limpia, fija y da esplendor".

The acute accent is a diacritic used in many modern written languages with alphabets based on the Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek scripts.

The circumflex is a diacritic in the Latin and Greek scripts that is used in the written forms of many languages and in various romanization and transcription schemes. It received its English name from Latin circumflexus "bent around"—a translation of the Greek περισπωμένη (perispōménē). The circumflex in the Latin script is chevron-shaped, while the Greek circumflex may be displayed either like a tilde or like an inverted breve.

The Danish and Norwegian alphabet, called the Dano-Norwegian alphabet is based upon the Latin alphabet and has consisted of the following 29 letters since 1917 (Norwegian) and 1948 (Danish).

Welsh orthography uses 29 letters of the Latin script to write native Welsh words as well as established loanwords.

Á, á (a-acute) is a letter of the Blackfoot, Czech, Dutch, Faroese, Galician, Hungarian, Icelandic, Irish, Kazakh, Lakota, Navajo, Occitan, Portuguese, Sámi, Slovak, Spanish, Vietnamese, Welsh, and Western Apache languages as a variant of the letter a. It is sometimes confused with à; e.g. "5 apples á $1", which is more commonly written as "5 apples à $1".

Filipinoorthography specifies the correct use of the writing system of the Filipino language, the national and co-official language of the Philippines.

Ll/ll is a digraph which occurs in several natural languages.

Catalan orthography encompasses the spelling and punctuation of the Catalan language.

Dutch orthography uses the Latin alphabet and has evolved to suit the needs of the Dutch language. The spelling system is issued by government decree and is compulsory for all government documentation and educational establishments.

This article is about the spelling reforms of the Portuguese language.

Portuguese orthography is based on the Latin alphabet and makes use of the acute accent, the circumflex accent, the grave accent, the tilde, and the cedilla to denote stress, vowel height, nasalization, and other sound changes. The diaeresis was abolished by the last Orthography Agreement. Accented letters and digraphs are not counted as separate characters for collation purposes.

The Alfabeto Unificado para a Escrita do Caboverdiano, commonly known as ALUPEC, is the alphabet that was officially recognized by the Cape Verdean government to write Cape Verdean Creole.

Papiamento has two standardized orthographies, one used on the island of Aruba and the other on the islands of Curaçao and Bonaire. The Aruban orthography is more etymological in nature, while the other is more phonemic. Among the differences between the two standards, one obvious difference is the way the name of the language is written. In Aruba it is written Papiamento, while in Curaçao it is written Papiamentu. On Bonaire it is sometimes written Papiamen. The governments of Curaçao and Aruba formally standardized orthographic rules in 1976 and 1977, respectively.

Bello orthography Spanish-language orthography created by A. Bello and J. G. del Río, published in 1823; briefly officially used in Chile

The Bello orthography or Chilean orthography was a Spanish-language orthography created by the Venezuelan linguist Andrés Bello and Juan García del Río, published in London in 1823. Part of the orthography was used officially for a time in Chile, and it influenced other Spanish-speaking countries. The aim of the orthography was a perfect correspondence between graphemes and phonemes. The reform did not succeed. Standard Spanish orthography as used for Hispanic American Spanish contains several homophones or letters that represent more than one sound, and other variances. Bello proposed several modifications that he believed should be undertaken in two stages:

  1. Substitute ⟨j⟩ for "weak" ⟨g⟩ sounds ;
  2. Substitute ⟨z⟩ for "weak" ⟨c⟩ sounds ;
  3. Remove silent ⟨h⟩s and the silent ⟨u⟩ of ⟨qu⟩- ;
  4. Substitute ⟨i⟩ for ⟨y⟩s used as vowels ;
  5. Always write ⟨rr⟩ where a rolled ⟨r⟩ is pronounced.
  1. Substitute ⟨q⟩ for "strong" c sounds ;
  2. Remove the silent ⟨u⟩ in ⟨gu⟩-.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Marcos, Javier Rodriguez (2010-11-05). "La "i griega" se llamará "ye"". El País. Retrieved 2018-09-10.
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  6. "ll". Diccionario panhispánico de dudas (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Real Academia Española. 2005.
  7. "r". Diccionario panhispánico de dudas (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Real Academia Española. 2005.
  8. "No obstante, en el X Congreso de la Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española, celebrado en 1994, se acordó adoptar para los diccionarios académicos, a petición de varios organismos internacionales, el orden alfabético latino universal, en el que la ch y la ll no se consideran letras independientes. En consecuencia, estas dos letras pasan a alfabetizarse en los lugares que les corresponden dentro de la C (entre -cg- y -ci-) y dentro de la L (entre -lk- y -lm-), respectivamente." Real Academia Española. Explanation Archived September 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine at spanishpronto.com Archived September 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine (in Spanish and English)
  9. Fletcher Pratt, Secret and Urgent: the Story of Codes and Ciphers Blue Ribbon Books, 1939, pp. 254-255. The eñe is added in the fourth to last position according to the Quixote gutenberg.org
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  12. Archived December 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
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  14. "z". Diccionario panhispánico de dudas (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Real Academia Española. 2005.
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 /b/, /d/, /ʝ/ and /ɡ/ are approximants ([β̞], [ð̞], [ʝ˕][ɣ˕]; represented here without the undertacks) in all places except after a pause, after an /n/ or /m/, or—in the case of /d/ and /ʝ/—after an /l/, in which contexts they are stops [b, d, ɟʝ, ɡ], not dissimilar from English b, d, j, g.( Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté 2003 :257–8)
  16. 1 2 3 In Andalusia, Canary Islands, and Spanish America /θ/ is not distinguished from /s/; see seseo and Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003 :258) for more information.
  17. In a small number of borrowed words, such as Kirchner, this is [ ʃ ].
  18. Modern words in which h is derived from Latin f (e.g. hacer , hablar ) were spelled with f, pronounced [f], in Old Spanish (e.g. fazer , fablar ), and there was a transitional stage pronounced [h] before the sound was entirely lost; hence the modern spelling with h. But in words derived from Latin words with h (e.g. hoy , prohibir ), the letter was always silent in Spanish. And words beginning with either of the diphthongs [je] or [we] (e.g. hielo , huevo ) were given an initial h in spelling (always silent) to ensure that their initial glide was not read as a consonant (in Old Spanish, the letters i and j were often interchanged, as were u and v).
  19. 1 2 3 Some speakers may pronounce word-initial [w] with an epenthetic /ɡ/, e.g. Huila[ˈɡwila]~[ˈwila], hueso[ˈgweso]~[ˈweso], waterpolo [ˈgwaterˈpolo] ~ [ˈwaterˈpolo].
  20. For most speakers, the j is silent at the end of a word, in which case reloj is pronounced [reˈlo].
  21. 1 2 3 The nasal consonants /n, m, ɲ/ only contrast before vowels. Before consonants, they assimilate to the consonant's place of articulation. This is partially reflected in the orthography: only m is written before b and p; but only n is written before v (although the combination nv represents the same sounds as mb) and f. Word-finally, only /n/ occurs, normally spelled n; but m is used in some loanwords.
  22. In the verb subrayar the trilled initial [r] of the root raya is maintained, even with the prefix sub- . The same goes for ciudadrealeño (from Ciudad Real). However, after vowels, the initial r of the root becomes rr in prefixed or compound words: prorrogar , infrarrojo , autorretrato .
  23. 1 2 3 For many speakers, /s/ may debuccalize or be deleted in the syllable coda (at the end of words and before consonants).
  24. In words with the combination -xs- (e.g., exsenador ), the pronunciation is [ks], and the two [ s ] sounds are merged into one. The same goes for -xc- before e, i (e.g., excelente ) in varieties with seseo.
  25. In Spanish, the letters i and u can combine with other vowels to form diphthongs (e.g. cielo, cuadro).
  26. Butt, Benjamin & 2011, §39.2.2
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Bibliography