The Birth of a Language

By Bareiro Saguier, Ruben | UNESCO Courier, May 1989 | Go to article overview

The Birth of a Language


Bareiro Saguier, Ruben, UNESCO Courier


LATIN American writers have developed a complex about the lana in which they write because they have always felt that it was not their own. Many writers of metropolitan Spain, especially purists, have encouraged this feeling by assuming proprietary rights over the Spanish language and relegating Latin American literature to the status of a mere offshoot of Spanish literature. This attitude was summed up by the Spanish essayist and novelist Azorin (1874-1967), who frankly declared at the beginning of the century that "we are the souls of the language".

Philologists and linguists have tried to explain this phenomenon which simultaneously united and separated writers on each side of the Atlantic. There is a linguistic tem" which for obvious historical and political reasons is called Castillan or Spanish. This system has variants within Spain and, with much greater justification, in Latin America. The substrata of Amerindian languages, the influence, in regions such as the Caribbean, of African languages and of contribution by immigrants, as well as the language of creative writers, have profoundly marked the phonetic modulations, word-structures, syntax and vocabulary of Latin American Spanish. They have strongly influenced and impregnated this language which has been used for centuries, but they have not destroyed the unity of the system. It is the same Spanish language, variegated and enriched-why not?-by contributions which reflect the cultural and historical context of Latin America.

This situation is the result of a long, hard struggle, often waged in obscurity, to achieve and assert a cultural identity. The struggle finally bore fruit in the twentieth century. The theory of the Spanish linguistic system and its variants is the expression of a linguistic situation that clearly appeared at a specific moment in the history of Latin American literature-the moment when Latin American writers lost their inferiority complex vis-i-vis their Iberian colleagues and dared to assume their language. This turning point marked the emergence of a literature, initially poetic but later predominantly narrative, which asserted the continent's cultural identity through works of exceptional quality which testified to an original presence on the contemporary literary scene.

Language is not the only determining factor in the flowering of Latin American literature in recent decades. But in my opinion it is a decisive factor, if not the principal one, because the full assumption of one's own language shapes the balance of expression and the practice, without complexes or culpability, of letters.

The Archives Collection (see article page 18) is revealing this decisive stage in the evolution of twentleth-century Latin American literature, through its mission to represent the entire continent, and through its methodology which encourages the study of the original text and its variants. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Birth of a Language
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.