The Battle over Spanish between 1800 and 2000: Language Ideologies and Hispanic Intellectuals

By José Del Valle; Luis Gabriel-Stheeman | Go to book overview

3

The ideological construction of an empirical base

Selection and elaboration in Andrés Bello's grammar

Belford Moré


Preserving unity, producing unity

Few Bello scholars would deny that the main concern behind the Venezuelan's extensive production of grammatical texts was the problem of the unity of the language. With unparalleled enthusiasm and determination, Bello assumed the role of standard-bearer in the nineteenth-century campaign for the "preservation of the Castilian language" in the newly-born Latin American nations. In an often-quoted passage from the prologue to his Gramática de la lengua castellana destinada al uso de los americanos (1847), he explicitly indicated that the main reason for writing this grammar was the danger that Spanish would become "a multitude of irregular, undisciplined and barbaric dialects," which in time would reproduce in America a phenomenon parallel to the corruption of Latin (Bello 1847:12).

Assuming the defense of unity against fragmentation and formulating the problem of unity are different (though related) issues. If we pay careful attention to how Bello presented the problem, a number of significant details become visible. Bello did not of course present the idea of linguistic fragmentation in positive terms. His intention was not even to make a reasonable prediction about whether fragmentation would occur or not. Instead, he used the idea of fragmentation only as a potential danger, thus leaving the door open for the necessary corrections that would channel language development in the direction of unity. However, linguistic unity-which in his argumentation was taken for granted and which functioned as a point of departure-was not as solid and widespread as he desired: Bello was acutely aware of language diversity. On one hand, diversity was manifest in the speech of a majority of Spanish speakers who, in his opinion, did not know how to use "their own language grammatically" (Bello 1823:71); on the other, it was reflected in the many indigenous languages still in use among large population groups in Latin America. Consequently, unity was not simply a state that must be protected from future threats, but also-and especially-a condition that must be created and expanded through a process that homogenizes language use under the rule of a single code shared, at least, by the dominant and middle sectors of society.

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The Battle over Spanish between 1800 and 2000: Language Ideologies and Hispanic Intellectuals
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Biographical Notes ix
  • Preface xii
  • Acknowledgments xiv
  • 1 - Nationalism, Hispanismo, and Monoglossic Culture 1
  • 2 - Linguistic Anti-Academicism and Hispanic Community 14
  • 3 - The Ideological Construction of an Empirical Base 42
  • 4 - Historical Linguistics and Cultural History 64
  • 5 - Menéndez Pidal, National Regeneration and the Linguistic Utopia 78
  • 6 - "For Their Own Good" 106
  • 7 - A Nobleman Grabs the Broom 134
  • 8 - José María Arguedas 167
  • 9 - "Codo Con Codo" 193
  • References 217
  • Index 231
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