Page last updated at 01:01 GMT, Friday, 11 December 2009

New grammar book seeks to 'unify' Spanish language

Spanish King Juan Carlos with the two volumes of new Spanish grammar
Spanish King Juan Carlos was given a copy of the new book

A new grammar book has been launched in Spain that aims to draw up joint rules for a language spoken by some 500 million people in more than 20 nations.

It took the Royal Language Academy of Spain (RAE) over 11 years to complete two volumes covering some 4,000 pages.

A third volume is expected to be published within a few months.

The guidelines replace the RAE's own 1931 grammar, which is said to be out of touch with the way Spanish is spoken in Latin American countries.

'Not speaking poorly'

"Here are all the voices, all the ways of speaking, coming together in a grand polyphony," RAE president Victor Garcia de la Concha said at Thursday's launch of the book in Madrid.

Rules are set by speakers. What the academy does is observe and document
Victor Garcia de la Concha, RAE president

"This book comes from the people, and it is to the people that it reaches out," he added.

The new guidelines do not set cut-and-dried dogma on what is correct and what is not.

Instead, they make recommendations as to what linguists generally accept to be proper Spanish.

"Rules are set by speakers. What the academy does is observe and document," the RAE president said.

Modern Spanish is full of differences in grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary in Spanish-speaking countries around the world.

But until now grammar rules in nations outside Spain had been never acknowledged, said Mexican linguist Rocio Mandujano.

"We know now that we are not speaking poorly. It's only a different grammar," Ms Mandujano, from Mexico City's National Autonomous University, told the Associated Press news agency.

The new book in its jumbo version costs 120 euros (£109), but it also comes in simplified versions aimed at students and the general public.

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