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Real Academia Española: the brilliance of the Spanish language

  • Spanish Royal Academy, Madrid © Turespaña

    Spanish Royal Academy, Madrid © Turespaña

  • Academy Library © Real Academia Española

    Academy Library © Real Academia Española

  • Plenary room © Real Academia Española

    Plenary room © Real Academia Española

  • Assembly hall © Real Academia Española

    Assembly hall © Real Academia Española

  
  


"The Real Academia Española (RAE), or Spanish Royal Academy, is the institution charged with safeguarding the correct use of the Spanish language. ..."

The Real Academia Española (RAE), or Spanish Royal Academy, is the institution charged with safeguarding the correct use of the Spanish language. Founded in 1713, its motto, 'To cleanse, fix and enhance' defines this commitment. In recent years the RAE has not been alone in this task, but has been accompanied by another 21 academies in South America and the Philippines. This is a fitting tribute to a language which is shared by more than 570 million people.

The Spanish Royal Academy (RAE) was created in 1713 at the instigation of Juan Manuel Fernández Pacheco, Marquis of Villena, for the purpose of 'fixing the words and terms of the Castilian language to ensure its utmost propriety, elegance and purity'. In other words, to establish the criteria for its correct and proper use in order to contribute to the splendour of the language. King Philip V approved its constitution one year later and gave it his endorsement. In fact, its official headquarters which opened in 1894 was built on land in the crown property of El Buen Retiro, donated by the Royal Household.

Since then the RAE has adapted to the changing times, setting itself the task of monitoring that the changes which occur in the spoken language do not break the unity of the language which is maintained throughout the whole of the Spanish-speaking world. This work is carried out by its members, among them the 46 numerary academicians who occupy lifetime seats named after the upper- and lower-case letters of the alphabet. Those selected for this distinction are usually historians, writers, philologists, researchers, journalists, and professionals who have demonstrated their mastery of the language in their corresponding fields.

In its task of developing a common set of regulations for the Spanish language, the RAE is assisted by the 21 Spanish Language Academies in Latin America and the Philippines. All of these comprise the Association of Spanish Language Academies. Their results are materialised in the various works published by the Academy: the Dictionary, the Grammar and the Spelling.

Since 2003, the RAE has also granted the Real Academia Española awards to encourage studies and works which contribute to improving the knowledge of the Spanish language and its literature.

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