The United States is home to the second-largest group of Spanish speakers in the world—with over 50 million. Along with about 400 million other Spanish speakers throughout the globe, U.S. Spanish speakers have been subjected to the dictates of the Royal Spanish Academy, or RAE, as it is known by its Spanish acronym. The RAE’s mission, since its founding in 1713, has been to “clean, fix, and give splendor” to the Spanish language; but, as this article makes clear, in pursuing that mission the RAE has instituted colonial policing practices and has perpetuated negative stereotypes that, together, constitute a form of “symbolic violence” whose repercussions include language loss, linguistic profiling, and violent hate crimes. This article retraces the efforts of the author and other scholars who are committed to social justice and its relationship to language as they successfully challenged the RAE’s 2013 definition of the term espanglish—a definition endorsed by the North American Academy of the Spanish Language (ANLE). Employing anthropolitical linguistic analysis Zentella clarifies how the racialization of Latinas and Latinos is at the root of the RAE’s purism, and explains why the RAE’s purism must be challenged.


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pp. 21-42
Launched on MUSE
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