The North American Academy of the Spanish Language (ANLE), the second-youngest “daughter” of the legendary Royal Spanish Academy (RAE, founded in 1713), celebrates its 50th birthday this month.
ANLE is part of the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language (ASALE), which brings together 23 corporations on four continents, in Spain (Europe), all of America, the Philippines (Asia), and Equatorial Guinea (Africa). It was founded in 1973 in New York by the exiled Tomás Navarro Tomás, famous for introducing research methodology to Spanish language teaching and a member of the RAE who fled to the US in 1939 as Franco was set to win the Spanish Civil War.
Like all its sister academies, it has the mission of studying, developing, and implementing the normative rules of Spanish in its territory. But for geographical and demographic reasons, ANLE has had particular challenges since its foundation, which remain present and are projected to continue in the medium and long term.
“ANLE’s challenge is great because the future of Spanish in the United States is. This academy, created very opportunely a few decades ago, was ASALE’s 22nd. The creation of the previous ones from 1871, when that of Colombia was born, was fundamental for the maintenance of the rare unity that our common language maintained at a time when linguistic fragmentation could have occurred,” explains Darío Villanueva, who was director of the RAE between 2014 and 2018. “The variant of North American Spanish, the result of the convergence of Latinos from our countries and ultimately dependent on the generations already born in the United States, is and should be very rich, but always in terms of that unity that the media and the very mobility of people favor. Today it is easier to maintain this objective than in 1820 when the American republics gained independence.”
“The US has 62 million Hispanics, according to the most recent census. Those who speak it as their first language are approximately 45 million. If we stick to that figure, we would be in fifth place in the world in terms of Spanish speakers, behind Mexico, Spain, Colombia, and Argentina. But demographic projections indicate that by the year 2060 we would already reach second place. It’s more—in a few decades Hispanics will exceed 100 million and 25% of the population, which means that one in four Americans will be Hispanic,” adds Jorge Covarrubias, current deputy director of ANLE.