States of Spanish

    Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoît Nadeau explain why the U.S. has its own, recognized variety of Spanish

    Ten years ago, it was still common in the U.S. to hear Spanish described as a “foreign” language. But those days are over. Hispanic scholars and language teachers are now witnessing the rise of an authentic U.S. variety of Spanish.

    The shift really got underway in 2003 when the U.S. government decided to create a Spanish-language version of its official website, FirstGov en español, now renamed gobiernoUSA.gov. Since 2009, it has received the help of an obscure group of academics based in New York City: the Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española (The North American Academy of the Spanish Language, or ANLE). Hardly anyone had heard about ANLE at the time, probably because few imagined there was any such thing as recognized “U.S. Spanish.”

    So what role does the Academy play in this? And more importantly, why does the U.S. — where Spanish is the language of a minority — need its own Spanish language academy in the first place?

    The U.S. is already part of the club of Spanish-speaking nations.

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