February 10th, 2011

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Drink güisqui, send tuits, and listen to yas

Spanish-speakers, here's news for you.

The Spanish Royal Academy, whose job it is to "clean, fix, and give splendor" to the Spanish language, has come out with a new spelling guide. The 1999 guide had 162 pages, but this one has 745 because every single decision has been "exhaustively" explained, as its coordinator boasts.

The Academy has eliminated the letters ch and ll from the alphabet and made quite a few technical changes in rules about capitalization and accent marks, but the big difference is in the spelling of foreign words. They will now be spelled as they are pronounced — in Spanish:

judo = yudo
sexy = sexi
piercing = pirsin
meeting = mitin
whisky = güisqui
Qatar = Catar
gay = gai
manager = mánayer
beefsteak = bistec
baseball = béisbol
cruissant = cruasán
water (as in "water closet" or toilet) = váter
tweet (as in Twitter) = tuit
jazz = yas

This has led to many jokes which are hard to translate, let alone spell.

However emailímel. That's because you shouldn't be using email at all, whether for the message system, or the address for receiving it, or the message itself. The Royal Academy says: "It's use — as well as its abbreviation mail — is unnecessary, since alternatives exist in Spanish in all those cases. The most frequently used is the translation correo electrónico."

It adds that correo-e is "inadmissable" because it's an adaptation of an English usage, although cibercorreo, ciberdirección and cibermensaje are valid.

Now you know.

— Sue Burke

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