The members of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) have unanimously approved the minutes of the February 2 session in which they approved, then by consensus, the modification of the Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas in the article that refers to the accent of the adverb solo . The decision and its interpretations, which during this week announced a “stormy plenary session”, appear to be good for everyone seven days later, at least according to the official story. “No one has given their arm to twist. The triumph of this agreement is that no one feels victorious or defeated. Everyone has accepted that the paragraph is sufficient to recognize their claims,” ​​said Santiago Muñoz Machado, director of the RAE, after the full.

On the other hand, Arturo Pérez-Reverte, the main promoter of the replacement of the accent, has interpreted the agreement as a success: “We speakers of Spanish maintain the freedom to mark without anyone considering it a misspelling. The language cannot be only at the discretion of linguists. The creators also have authority,” the writer said after plenary session.

It is difficult to understand what has changed to reach this perhaps fragile peace. In the words of Muñoz Machado, what has changed this week is an emphasis on the subject: only the speaker decides if the context is ambiguous: not the teacher who corrects the exam, the student.

These days, on the eve of the plenary session, the academics were divided between those who felt called to the ranks of the insurrection of the tilde (the third of the academic writers, basically) and those who considered that the dispute was a small theater built from falsely interpreted false news. The RAE, maintains its version, has not changed its doctrine on the solo accent, among other things, because the Spanish Academy could never take the step of replacing it. Spelling is the jurisdiction of the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language.

“What happens is that Arturo likes to disturb the class,” explained yesterday, each with their own words, two academics, a novelist and a linguist, more out of sympathy for Pérez-Reverte than out of censorship.

Was there theater? Was there torment? Muñoz Machado came to say that, if there was, it was within an order. “I come without any dressing.” On the other hand, Félix de Azúa said when leaving the plenary session (before its conclusion) that the positions were “irreconcilable”.

What is irreconcilable, in reality, is something broader than the disagreement over the solo accent. During the last week, Arturo Pérez-Reverte has spoken about the commitment of the Academy, and in particular, of its Spanish Department up to date, directed by Elena Gómez, to impose a linguistic policy, his hyper-rationalist policy.

An example: the Academy is heading, as explained by Pérez-Reverte, to change the spelling of the word ballet, which will one day become “balé”, just as parquet appears as parquet and bidet is bidet in the Dictionary of the Spanish language. The principles of simplification and the similarity between writing and orality (if we say ballet, why write ballet?) lead to this change, but who wants to read ballet in the newspapers? Who promises to never write ballet again? What chance does the new word have of being successful, of not creating confusion and bad mood in the speakers, at least for the first few years? In the last plenary session, the word ballet appeared very fleetingly, as if it were a harbinger of future discussions.

So if Pérez-Reverte is theater, his role would be that of a communal rebel who would defend the old law, with its irregularities and small inconsistencies, against the pure reason of linguists. And his logic would be that custom is a source of law in language and that any challenge to that principle would be a form of enlightened despotism, imprudence.

Muñoz Machado, whom Pérez-Reverte has referred to this week as “my friend” and whom he described as “oblivious to the issue” spoke after the plenary session with institutional prudence. He acknowledged that in the Academy “there are strong personalities” and regretted that the controversy of the last week has conveyed the idea that the Academy is dedicated to small discussions that are not very relevant that overshadow its “huge work”.

It only remains to clarify the hypothesis of falsely interpreted false news, the starting point of linguists. At the Academy, those in favor of abandoning the solo accent maintain that, in reality, the RAE never imposed it as we were told in schools.

Evidence: on January 1, 1959, the Royal Academy published a text called New Prosody and Spelling Rules, which read: «The word alone, in adverbial function, may carry an orthographic accent if this is to avoid an amphibology ». And, in 1999, he published Ortografía de la lengua española, which read: «The word can only function as an adjective or as an adverb. […] When the person who writes perceives a risk of ambiguity, they will carry an orthographic accent in their adverbial use». More or less, the same as the recent modification of the Pan-Hispanic Dictionary of Doubts says. “The accented solo has never existed as a mandatory norm, that has been a confusion promoted by teachers and typographers,” says an academic consulted.

For fans of infrequent words: that, according to sources consulted, is called misoneism: «From the gr. miseîn ‘hate’, neo- e -ism: 1. m. Aversion to the new.

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