The Historical Sociolinguistics of Spelling
  • ISSN 1387-6732
  • E-ISSN: 1570-6001
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The collapse of the Spanish Empire in the first half of the nineteenth century prompted a need to reorganize the former colonial space in independent countries by creating territorial, political and identity boundaries in Spanish-speaking America. The imposition of a national language – the officialization of grammatical and orthographic norms and their promotion through emerging public education systems – was a key instrument in the nation-building processes developed in Spain and the newly independent American republics. In this socio-political context resistance to official norms and their implementation was frequent. This article studies three language ideological debates over Spanish orthography, occurring in the central decades of the century: the resistance to the officialization of the Royal Spanish Academy’s orthography in Spain (1844), the opposition to Sarmiento’s simplification proposal in Chile (1844) and the reception of the Chilean orthography in Spain (1846). The significance of spelling as an identity marker and a political tool is emphasized.


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