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Gerald Erichsen

Two Letters Dropped From Spanish Alphabet

By November 29, 2010

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It's official: The Spanish alphabet now has 27 letters. Despite Internet campaigns and objections from language purists, delegates to a Spanish Royal Academy gathering in Guadalajara, Mexico, over the weekend ratified proposed changes to written Spanish, which included removing ch and ll from the alphabet.

The change will have little practical effect, since the ch and ll will continue to have distinct pronunciations, and the letters hadn't been used for alphabetization purposes for decades.

Two other recommendations on the alphabet also were made: The v will now be known as the uve instead of ve, which was already the case in some regions, and the y may be known as the ye along with the traditional name of i griega.

Other changes involved the dropping of mandatory written accents in words such as guión (hyphen) and sólo when used as an adverb — although such accents will not be considered wrong and likely will be used in many publications. Also, under the new recommendations, plurals of abbreviations should not include an s at the end, so the plural of la ONG (for la organización no gubernamental) becomes las ONG (this usage has long been common). Also, ex may now be used as a prefix in words such as exsenador for "former senator"; previously, it would have been written as ex senador.


November 30, 2010 at 8:59 am
(1) Brad says:

Aunque creo que los cambios dichos arriba confundirán a varias personas, todavía creo que van a mejorar el idioma en general.

December 4, 2010 at 7:35 am
(2) Derek says:

This article conjures an important question in my mind. Since Spanish is updated much more often than English, how quickly (or even likely?) do people incorporate these changes into their lives? Do Spanish teachers immediately rework their lessons? and is the average Joe on his toes to what the Academy is deciding?

December 6, 2010 at 2:00 pm
(3) Craig says:

I think it is a great idea to try and simplify Spanish.
Language is dynamic and always changing, so everyone should be working to make it more generic and simpler.
Maybe English could do with some cleaning up as well!

December 6, 2010 at 6:41 pm
(4) nevins says:

Sure Craig, we’ll just let Nancy Pelosi do it for us. But we’ll have to wait for the bill to be passed by congress before we get to see what changes to the english language are inside.

January 6, 2011 at 11:11 pm
(5) Gabriel says:

These are not even real changes! Many people already talk with these “modifications”. The Spanish alphabet has already been like this ever since like 2002. They should specify which “Spanish alphabet” was updated this way.

January 25, 2011 at 2:04 pm
(6) M&M says:

It is going to get too complicated for people who already know spanish. People who were born and learned Spanish are going to get too confused. Also how is lluvia going to be spelled and chivas going to be spelled. Think about it. And let me know to start learning Spanish again.

February 5, 2011 at 10:07 am
(7) Octavio says:

A friend told me about it and just checked it today. I don’t think it is a big deal, since dropping those two letters of the Spanish alphabet, will make no change in the way we use it, I hope. We will continue using the combination of “ch” and “ll” so indicating them in the alphabet or not, makes no difference to me. What really concerns me is the trying to do things easier and easier for the people to learn something, in Spanish or English.

Is this really an improvement or is making the people use less and less of their brain? The re-inventing the language is great, but re-inventing it to turn it into several “dialects” with so many different ways people talk and write today, is really going to create chaos in the future. In Spanish as in English is the same thing. There is nothing like the enjoyment of reading a piece of well written English or Spanish, with new words that are not so common.

I personally enjoy the challenge of adding words that exist today and never use, than re-invting new ones. It doesn’t make sense other than stopping, the way people use their brain, from growing. It is going to be like cuando ahora las personas no pueden dar cambio en las tiendas o vender algo si no tienen una calculadora a la mano. El mundo se detiene para ellos .
Translating: It is going to be like when people cannot make “change” or sell at stores during a power outage if they do not have a calculator at hand. The world stops for them”

August 20, 2011 at 10:36 am
(8) Edwina Kurtz says:

There are more changes than just these! The language is being changed to resemble English more and more. (non-pluralization of adjectives describing plural nouns for example) The only reason one can come up with is that “they” are preparing Mexico (and other Spanish speakers) for the North American Union. If you don’t know about this, Google it … then read it and weep. It’s almost ready to be instigated, and EVERYONE in the US, Canada and Mexico needs to know about it and do what can be done to stop it from happening. TRULY EDUCATE YOURSELVES and pull your heads out of the sand. This is real and it’s very frightening. It happened in Europe; let’s not let it happen here.

August 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm
(9) Johndavid says:

What is the matter with Mexico becoming part of the North American Union. Mexico is part of North America anyway, and it will only open the doors for more oppurtinitys in Mexico. I myself can not wait for that unification.

September 5, 2011 at 1:02 am
(10) Antonio says:

Personally, having learned spanish as my first language, i dont like the changes making it more like english. I grew up saying the alphabet with “LL” and “CH”. I don’t like the idea of being Lcorrected by spanish teachers for the way i speak (the “old” way) in the future. Whats the point of diversety of language if they’re trying to make all other languages like english! Oh, and i guess they’ll just have to re-teach spanish speakers, because how they know is “wrong”!

January 5, 2013 at 3:31 pm
(11) carlos says:

we do not need to change the letters in order to make it easier. we need to use it properly as it was designed. some things do not need to be changed. next they will want you to learn spanglish as an official language and start to take away traditions little by little. is going to be done so subtle that you will not even notice it.

July 17, 2013 at 2:32 pm
(12) Chico says:

People have always resisted change. I think they want to standardize it so it is easier for foreigners like myself to learn. It will have little effect on the way people speak in everyday life. Languages are not designed, they evolve. People start speaking a certain way, languages mix, etc. This is how new languages form. Just look at the way Spanish itself formed from Latin over time.

No matter what the books tell us most of us don’t speak any language they way our teachers taught us too. I am a Spanish and English teacher but I still use lots of slang in both languages and always will. It just depends on the crowd I’m talking too.

August 29, 2013 at 11:02 am
(13) Audie says:

My child is in the dual-language program at school and in the beginning we argued because the alphabet was different from when I went and learned my way and now the way that they are teaching it. I am assuming that they have nothing else to do, but change the pronunciation. I believe that “ch” and “ll” should have been left in since it helps when pronouncing a word when trying to spell it. I prefer the old style personally.

January 20, 2014 at 12:35 pm
(14) Nan says:

Now Spanish alphabet has 27 letters, but we still use “ch” “ll” and “rr” sounds.

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