On Friday the Real Academa Española (RAE) announced plans to start a campaign to combine Spanish, Portuguese and Catalán, creating an Iberian lingua franca. Galician and Basque, spoken in northwestern Spain were not included. Prominent linguists and official representatives from Brazil, Portugal and the Catalonian province of Spain have been in discussions for over a year now concerning the merger, which is hoped will give Spain and Portugal a new advantage in the economy of the European Union and will give Brazil Stronger trade ties to the EU.
The proposed merger of languages is not without controversy. Some linguists argue that languages should not be controlled by a few decision-makers, but should evolve naturally, based on common usage. The economists and linguists promoting this merger counter that the cultural, economical and communicative benefits of this linguistic union greatly outweigh the negative effects of their prescriptivism. Others claim this move will alienate the three countries from other Spanish speaking countries, mainly in South and Central America.
It is unknown whether or not other Hispanophone countries will embrace this progressive thinking. Mexico, the world’s largest Spanish speaking country (in terms of speakers), will have a great impact on the success of this measure. Representatives from Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM) in Mexico City are expected release a response sometime next week. It is interesting to note that they weren’t included in the original discussions.
An estimated 88%, collectively, of the vocabulary of the three languages has common latin roots. Words that fall within this category will be analyzed, and the least common denominator adopted across all three languages. The remaining 12% of the vocabulary will be combined in a process to eliminate the “non-latin” elements and produce a new proto-word that will be taught in schools, and hopefully adopted in the three countries in question.
Be sure to check back tomorrow, I hope to write some more about this.