Limpia, fija y da esplendor
March 22, 2011 9:31 AM   Subscribe

"cleans, sets, and casts splendour" is the motto of the Real Academia Española, the 300-year-old institution tasked with keeping the natural evolution of the Spanish language both coherent and true to its character, reflected in print through the publication of the Diccionario de la lengua española de la Real Academia Española (online).

Académicos (fellows) are elected for life by their peers, and assigned a chair named with either a lowercase or uppercase letter. Nobel Laureate Vargas Llosa seats since 1996 on capital L, which had been previously held by personalities such as José de Zorrilla or Ramiro de Maeztu.

Since the creation of the Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española in 1951, the supervisory responsibilities have been shared among the 22 academies from all around the world, including its youngest member, the Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española.

But only recently has this paradigmatic shift become practical, with the 2005 publication of the Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas (online) which clarifies proper usage of the language, and the 2009 publication of the massive Nueva Gramática Española the first grammar to reflect all the international variations of the language.
posted by valdesm (5 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
"cleans, sets, and casts splendour"

Why did you choose that translation? I think the NY Times translation of "Cleanse, Fix and Give Splendor" not only sounds better but is more accurate. The verb 'fijar' translates almost directly as 'fix' especially in the sense of fastening securely but also with the nice added sense of correcting and tending.
Also the infinitives are more appropriate in a motto, no? That is 'cleanse' or 'clean' rather than 'cleans'.
posted by vacapinta at 10:06 AM on March 22, 2011

I did consider the NYT translation, which is perfectly fine and does indeed sound better. I opted not to the add the sense of correcting provided by "fix" because it's not there in the original "fija". Also the original is in the third person in the singular with an implicit subject, thus it "fixes/sets". But yeah, personal choices, your points are valid.
posted by valdesm at 10:20 AM on March 22, 2011

Agreed. I just realized that the original is 'limpia' not 'limpiar' so you are right. The REA is the implicit subject I guess? It sounds more like a job description than a motto! I guess it is.

Thanks for the links, by the way. I keep forgetting the Dictionary is online. It is an invaluable resource. I also love that the REA is not a Castilian Spanish institution but represents the Spanish language in all its diverse forms.
posted by vacapinta at 10:25 AM on March 22, 2011

Thanks! My own great-grandfather was a Fellow (he sat on capital B).
posted by Skeptic at 11:01 AM on March 22, 2011

That's really cool Skeptic, only on metafilter... Another capital B, Alarcos, tought in my alma mater, you couldn't escape his grammar book (which was quite didactic actually).
posted by valdesm at 2:08 PM on March 22, 2011

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