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New year, new Spanish language rules

New year, new Spanish language rules¡Prospero Año Nuevo!

Attention Spanish linguists and companies that uses Spanish translations: January 1, 2011 marks the date when the new Spanish spelling rules came into effect.

Developed by the Real Academia de la Lengua Española, the new rules contain several clarifications and modifications, including:

New names for the letters B, V, and Y
B is called "Be" in all countries (no longer should be called "be larga" in America)
V is called "Uve" (no longer "be corta")
W is called "Uve doble" (no longer "u doble" or "be doble")
Y is called "Ye" (no longer "Y griega")

New spelling for foreign countries
Iraq becomes Irak
Qatar becomes Catar

Less use of diacritic tildes
Old rule: "sólo" = only, "solo" = alone. Now, the tilde is unnecessary for both meanings
Old rule: "truhán", "búho", "guión". Since they can be pronounced as diphthongs, the tilde is considered unnecessary

The "o" (or) between numbers used to have a tilde which is no longer required. Old spelling: "Vinieron 5 ó 6 personas"; new spelling "Vinieron 5 o 6 personas"

A recent change also removed the tilde from the demonstratives "este/ese/aquel" (and the flexed variants in feminine and plurals) when they worked as pronouns (I. e. "Quiero este helado, éste que señalo", now becomes "Quiero este helado, este de aquí")

Discard hyphens in compounds using "ex", "anti" and "pro"
Old rule: Ex-presidente, anti-social, pro-vida
New rule: Expresidente, antisocial, provida.

For more information, see the articles (in Spanish, of course) at LA NACION and BBC, and then be sure to update your Spanish spellcheckers, translation memories, and glossaries!

[Thank you, Ruben, for the heads-up!]

Language is dynamic - take a look at other recent language developments:

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  1. Anonymous said...
    Isn't ~ a tilde?
    Chris Van Steenkiste said...
    I'm very interested in your remark. Is thsi a general review of the Spanish language or restriced to certain areas f.e. on the medicla field ...
    Do you know links which have already updated their content ... ?

    [Via LinkedIn]
    Andres Heuberger said...
    @Chris - These changes apply to Spanish in general, not just to a particular field or use. I don't know of any publicly available content that has already been updated.

    For our part, we are working with clients to establish timelines and priorities for updating their legacy materials. Naturally, some companies take this more seriously than others...
    ES-EN translator said...
    @Anonymous: When you refer to a "tilde" in English, it does generally only refer to the ~. However, I believe the word "tilde" in Spanish is a generic term. It can refer both to the accent (á, é, í, ó, ú) as well as the ~ (which is also referred to in Spanish as "virgulilla"). Hope that helps, and do correct me if I'm wrong.
    Monica Colangelo said...
    Como el artículo se refiere a reglas del idioma español, no entiendo por qué está en inglés...
    No sé de dónde sale esta información, pero en términos generales está bastante lejos de ser "nueva". La Real Academia Española le quitó las tildes (o "acentos ortográficos") al adverbio "solo" y a los pronombres "este", "ese", "aquel" y sus respectivos femeninos y plurales (salvo cuando existe riesgo de anfibología) hace aproximadamente quince años.

    En Argentina, al menos, jamás se le puso tilde a la conjunción "o" en ningún caso, ni siquiera cuando está entre números.

    En cuanto a palabras como "truhán" y "guión" ya hace doce años que la RAE lo ha dejado librado a la pronunciación. En España y algunos países de Sudamérica, donde se las pronuncia como palabras bisílabas, se las escribe con tilde. En Centroamérica, donde se las pronuncia como monosílabas, no es correcto escribirlas con tilde. El caso de "búho" es totalmente distinto, porque se trata de lo que hace muchos años se enseñaba como "la hache no rompe el diptongo". Actualmente, en el Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas, dice puntualmente: "La presencia de una hache intercalada no exime de la obligación de tildar la vocal tónica del hiato: búho, ahíto, prohíbe".
    Mario Chávez said...
    We started using the new Ortografía at the hospital I used to work. However, the tone is more recommendation than rule. For example, I don't have to call "v" uve (that's so common in Spain). Very few changes to speak of, in my opinion.

    I would still focus on more basic issues when reviewing Spanish translations: punctuation that mirrors the English punctuation too much, not to mention overcapitalization of words, to name a few.

    [Via LinkedIn]

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