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date: 26 September 2022

The Spanish Language in Latin America in the 20th Centurylocked

The Spanish Language in Latin America in the 20th Centurylocked

  • Ilan StavansIlan StavansLewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture, Amherst College


The Spanish language is the second largest in the world. While most of its syntactical patterns are the same, many of its speakers—around 450 million of them (the majority of whom live in Latin America)—use it in diverse, heterogeneous ways, to the point that it might be convenient to talk not of one español but of several. Its modernization began before the Spanish-American War, at the end of the 19th century, with the various drives toward national independence. Mass media (radio, TV, movies, and the internet) has also played a crucial role, along with immigration into and out of the region, tourism, language contact with indigenous tongues, English, and of code-switching strategies, tourism, and the emergence of working-class dialects like cantinflismo. The centripetal role played by Madrid’s Real Academia Española and its branches throughout Latin America can help to explain the tension between unity and plurality.


  • Cultural History

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