An Update to Spanish Orthography

The Real Academia Española (RAE), the worldwide authority on the Spanish language, published an official guide on Spanish orthography in the fall of 2010. Filling some 864 pages, this veritable encyclopedic tome gathered more dust on the shelf than readers.

Fortunately, the RAE produced a much smaller and more manageable paperback version in 2012 (only 194 pages!) called Ortografía BÁSICA de la lengua española.

As a result, professional translators are now implementing several of the changes, and that will impact what you will see in Spanish translations.

While some of the changes, such as the simplification of the Spanish alphabet, will hardly be noticed, the elimination of accent marks in three specific cases represents a major shift away from the way things have been done for centuries:

• Accent marks to distinguish between demonstrative adjectives and demonstrative pronouns: GONE!

• Accent mark for differentiating between “alone” (solo) and “only” (sólo): GONE!

• Accent mark over the Spanish word for “or” (o) when placed between two numbers: GONE!

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This is a chart showing the changes in Spanish orthorgraphy.
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