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The Fifteenth Letter of the Spanish Alphabet

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amancio

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It was actually the 17th alphabet letter as I was a child, when CH and LL were both considered single letters despite being made of 2 actual letters. The letter "Ñ" has become the symbol of the Spanish culture somehow.
 

witsendwv

Active Member
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(2015)
It was actually the 17th alphabet letter as I was a child, when CH and LL were both considered single letters despite being made of 2 actual letters. The letter "Ñ" has become the symbol of the Spanish culture somehow.
When I first studied Spanish CH and LL were single letters, are they not anymore? I remember reciting the alfabeto with them. If not, what are they??
 
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amancio

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When I first studied Spanish CH and LL were single letters, are they not anymore? I remember reciting the alfabeto with them. If not, what are they??
I basically agree with Raggy, they were safely locked away quite a few years ago and are now considered to be just two separate letters together. No idea way, but I guess it makes sense!
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
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This is an interesting article from El Pais (English Version) about the origin of the 15th letter of the Spanish alphabet. The article is: The letter ‘Ñ,’ the identity of Spanish the world over. Here is the link: https://english.elpais.com/usa/2021-04-23/the-letter-n-the-identity-of-spanish-the-world-over.html
Fascinating, isn't it? I have done some transcribing of medieval Spanish manuscripts, principally Alfonso X's landmark history of Spain written in Castilian Spanish entitled Estoria de Espanna (note the double n in place of the ñ, and the different spelling of 'Historia').

Here's an article I wrote about it for anyone interested: Estoria de Espanna.
 

Pelegrin

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Fascinating, isn't it? I have done some transcribing of medieval Spanish manuscripts, principally Alfonso X's landmark history of Spain written in Castilian Spanish entitled Estoria de Espanna (note the double n in place of the ñ, and the different spelling of 'Historia').

Here's an article I wrote about it for anyone interested: Estoria de Espanna.
I was fortunate to listen Spanish from the 15th century when talking with two Sephardic couples in Istanbul thirty years ago. There were a few differences with current Spanish and some Turkish words but our conversation was quite easy.
 
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Kanga

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Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
@Pelegrin were they talking Ladino? I've had conversations with a very elderly woman who was born in Turkey and her "cradle" language was Ladino; she could understand my Spanish and I could understand her. I thought it was a mixture of Spanish and Hebrew, but would not be surprised if some Turkish was also in the mix.
 
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And in English the same thing happened where older handwritten letters were too difficult to carve into printers blocks originally so were replaced by other letters which are then pronounced ever so slightly differently.
The best example being the letter eth (ð) which is pronounced "th" and was then resurrected in the letter y to create a false historical connection as in Ye olde way. Pronounced The old way. Several old English letters disappeared in a similar manner not unlike Spanish and probably all other languages. By
the way nobody mentioned the disappearance of RR. It was there in the late 50s early 60s. Seems that one faded away rather.
 

dick bird

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Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
@Pelegrin were they talking Ladino? I've had conversations with a very elderly woman who was born in Turkey and her "cradle" language was Ladino; she could understand my Spanish and I could understand her. I thought it was a mixture of Spanish and Hebrew, but would not be surprised if some Turkish was also in the mix.
Until relatively recently (certainly the 90's), there was a Ladino newspaper being published in Istanbul. In Segovia in 2019, there was an exhibition about the Spanish/Jewish Diaspora, many of whom fled to the Ottoman Empire. Ladino would have very few Hebrew words because it was brought to Turkey by people who probably didn't speak it.
 

Pelegrin

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SJPP - Logroño June 2014
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@Pelegrin were they talking Ladino? I've had conversations with a very elderly woman who was born in Turkey and her "cradle" language was Ladino; she could understand my Spanish and I could understand her. I thought it was a mixture of Spanish and Hebrew, but would not be surprised if some Turkish was also in the mix.
Yes, they were elderly people and talked Ladino. It was a long time ago and I don`t remember specific details like if they used hebrew words or not. I remember that sometimes some of them forgot the situation and spoke only Turkish, but when they spoke Ladino I undertood almost everithing. I read that they, for example, say ferir/herir and agora/ahora which are Galician words.
As far as I know there isn´t any "Portuguese Ladino" what it is a pity because it could sound like Galician.
 
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Aspi

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
Fascinating, isn't it? I have done some transcribing of medieval Spanish manuscripts, principally Alfonso X's landmark history of Spain written in Castilian Spanish entitled Estoria de Espanna (note the double n in place of the ñ, and the different spelling of 'Historia').

Here's an article I wrote about it for anyone interested: Estoria de Espanna.
.
Alfonso X´s intelectuals marked the first Spanish standar on grammar and ortography in order to transform this "popular" Latin dialect in a cultivaded language with wich write books, administrative papers, etc. It was the XIII century. (It´s said that the Jewish writers in the court preferred a less church.like language)

There were a lot of doubdts about the phonetic/phonology, the yods, the F/H, and the sibilants, and it wasn´t until 1492 when was published the firt modern grammar, the one of Nebrija, with the clear intention of transform the Spanish in the comunicational instrument of the new empire.
.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
As far as I know there isn´t any "Portuguese Ladino" what it is a pity because it could sound like Galician.
There was. Judeo-Portuguese.

I know this is really a digression from the thread about ñ. But it is an interesting topic. So, for those who are not interested, feel free to skip this.

There are actually a ton of these Jewish Diaspora languages, which are often local languages written in a Hebrew script. Ladino alone has several forms. Here in North America, people are likely more familiar with Yiddish (from the German word for Jewish). Both Ladino and Yiddish are primarily the languages of Jews who had lived a long time in one area and then moved elsewhere. Yiddish was a language formed in Germany but transformed somewhat when the speakers moved east to Poland and Russia. Thus, it is about 3/4 German and the rest filled in with Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, etc. depending on where the speaker's family came from. On the other hand, when the Spanish Jews left Spain after 1492, they went south to North Africa and then to the eastern Mediterranean. So you can get Turkish or Greek or Arabic entering the language, again depending on where the speaker's family hailed from.

Unlike Spain, Portugal didn't expel its Jews. It just forcibly converted them in 1497, driving them underground. Emigration really began only four decades later, with the arrival of the inquisition. By that point, the Jewish culture in Portugal had been significantly weakened, presumably making the language not as robust an export as Judeo-Spanish.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
There were a lot of doubdts about the phonetic/phonology, the yods, the F/H, and the sibilants, and it wasn´t until 1492 when was published the firt modern grammar, the one of Nebrija, with the clear intention of transform the Spanish in the comunicational instrument of the new empire.
Yes, this is yet another significant event that happened in Spain that year (along with the discovery of the Americas, the final reconquest, and the expulsion of the Jews). The publication of the grammar book is not as well known as the others, of course, but the fact that the Spanish language was being formally codified right at the time that Spain reached the New World was very timely indeed.
 
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dick bird

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Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
Yes, they were elderly people and talked Ladino. It was a long time ago and I don`t remember specific details like if they used hebrew words or not. I remember that sometimes some of them forgot the situation and spoke only Turkish, but when they spoke Ladino I undertood almost everith ing. I read that they, for example, say ferir/herir and agora/ahora which are Galician words.
As far as I know there isn´t any "Portuguese Ladino" what it is a pity because it could sound like Galician.
Portugal was annexed by Spain under Felipe II in 1581 after Cardinal Henrique died without a direct heir, and regained its independence in 1640. Therefore the expulsion of the Jews initiated by Ferdinand and Isabela did not, at first, apply, even though they were subject to the discrimination, random persecution and at least one massacre, against them that was usual at the time. In any case, the Spaniards were very much seen as foreign conquerors and the Portuguese disinclined to follow their edicts. Jewish people in Portugal were tolerated and allowed to stay. Many Jews in Portugal nonetheless chose to convert and/or hide their identity. I was told that anyone who is Portuguese and whose surname is the word for a tree e.g. Nogueira (nut tree), Loureira (bay tree), or overtly Christian e.g. Espiritu Santo, probably has Jewish ancestry. Others fled to Brazil, rather than the Ottoman Empire, and continued to speak a form of Portuguese. Incidentally, the Galicians are extremely sensitive about the slightest suggestion that their language is anything other than that and certainly not 'just a form of Portuguese' (even if that is what it sounds like).
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
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the Galicians are extremely sensitive about the slightest suggestion that their language is anything other than that and certainly not 'just a form of Portuguese' (even if that is what it sounds like).

What I think is not in discussion is that Galician and Portuguese were the same language before the first independence of Portugal in 12th century. What I said on my previous post was that it is a pity (for me because I am Galician) that Ladino is only Spanish and not Portuguese because a Portuguese from the 15th century would be closer to Galician than current Portuguese.
 

Wendy Werneth

Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
the Galicians are extremely sensitive about the slightest suggestion that their language is anything other than that and certainly not 'just a form of Portuguese' (even if that is what it sounds like).
It depends on which Galician you are speaking to. There is a "reintegrationist" movement within Galicia that very much wants Galician to be viewed as a dialect of Portuguese, as this would give them entry into the much larger Portuguese-speaking world, and therefore a bigger presence on the world stage.

And actually, I wouldn't say that Galician sounds like Portuguese. On the contrary, the sounds it uses are mostly those used in Spanish, with one or two additions such as the "n velar". The vocabulary, on the other hand, largely overlaps with Portuguese. So, I guess you could say that it sounds like Portuguese spoken with a Spanish accent.

Of course, it does have some of its own unique vocabulary and grammar structures, but so does Brazilian Portuguese. I personally tend to consider Galician a separate language, but there's such huge variety in the way Portuguese is spoken around the world that it wouldn't be much of a stretch to say that Galician is one more form of it.

As @Pelegrin pointed out, Galician is the mother language of Portuguese. Portugal started out as part of the kingdom of Galicia before it gained independence, and in medieval times everyone in both Portugal and Galicia spoke the same language: galego-portugués.

That language then evolved in different ways in the different areas where it was spoken. Whether it has since evolved to the extent that it should now be considered two separate languages is up for debate.

There's no scientific definition of where to draw the line between a dialect and a language, and the reasoning behind such decisions is usually more political than linguistic. In China, for example, Mandarin and Cantonese are considered to be dialects of a single Chinese language, but speakers of those "dialects" would have a much harder time understanding each other than a Galician and a Portuguese person would.
 
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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
Maybe if there weren't 100's of ways to say "be" and other verbs. 😂
English also used to have a number of verbs for "to be": beon, sindon, wesan. But instead of keeping them separate we smushed them all together. Beon only survives in the infinitive. We see wesan in the past tense. And sindon was used for the present tense. Now it is just an irregular mess but once upon a time it was three different verbs working together and sharing the load.
 

dick bird

Active Member
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Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
Yes, this is yet another significant event that happened in Spain that year (along with the discovery of the Americas, the final reconquest, and the expulsion of the Jews). The publication of the grammar book is not as well known as the others, of course, but the fact that the Spanish language was being formally codified right at the time that Spain reached the New World was very timely indeed.
Err, 'discovery' of the Americas? You mean nobody knew they were there before 1492?
 
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Maybe if there weren't 100's of ways to say "be" and other verbs. 😂
Ha, yep English is very much a spoken language that is rooted in many different languages, Germánic ( Saxons Angles, Jutes, Vikings), older british languages that existed before, French Norman used by the ruling classes, Latin from the Church. then the words brought in from worldwide trade expansion and former colonies, all squeezed into a Latin grammatical form by the 19th century academics. The written language before dictionaries is amazing almost incomprehensible today. But it has to be said that within the UK, apart from the distinct Gaelic languages there are quite a number of very distinctive dialects and even more regional pronunciations. They are dying out however. As a teenager I was educated in Spain, and have noticed a change in pronunciation, especially in the Basque language which seems to my ear to have become more Castillian in pronunciation than it was in the late 50s early 60s before the huge advent of TV and common pronunciation. Gallego also seems to be more Castillian sounding now than then, though I had less contact with Gallegos to be as sure of that.

My opinion, rarely worth anything, is that TV is creating a homogenous form of speech not just in Spain, but in other countries as well. TV is helped in this through the use of common software, hugely influenced by US English. It is affecting our spelling and our creative writing abilities.
 

dick bird

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Point taken obviously but this is common usage, e.g. Age of Discovery on Wikipedia.
Fair enough, but it is a sore point with many indigenous/first nation people, and I can kind of see why. In Australia, for example, indigenous people don't refer to the 'discovery' of Australia by Europeans, they call it 'invasion'. I try to avoid the word 'discovery' in this context; I feel it is one very small gesture we can make of respect to people who were here at least fifty thousand years before we were, and looked after the place a lot better than we have, I have to say.
 
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dick bird

Active Member
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This is an interesting article from El Pais (English Version) about the origin of the 15th letter of the Spanish alphabet. The article is: The letter ‘Ñ,’ the identity of Spanish the world over. Here is the link: https://english.elpais.com/usa/2021-04-23/the-letter-n-the-identity-of-spanish-the-world-over.html
This thread seems to have drifted inexorably away from the original topic, which is not surprising as nothing provokes discussion more than language.

Sad, because the relation between language and alphabet is an interesting one. Essentially Latin had an alphabet of 21 letters (no K, Y, or W; with J and I, U and V being written as one letter each). Ideally, every sound has a symbol letter, and every letter represents one sound. However, most European languages have a lot more than 21 or even 26 sounds. For example, English has (depending on your accent) around 44 sounds (referred to as phonemes): twelve pure vowels, ten diphthongs if your accent is middle class southern British, and twenty consonants. Writing with the Roman alphabet therefore creates a problem - there are not enough symbols for all the sounds. One way round it is to just give up and expect everyone to learn the vagaries of an erratic and inconsistent orthography. This is what English has mainly done. Another trick is to double up or combine letters to make new symbols, both English and Spanish do this by adding h after c to make the initial sound of 'chat' or 'chorizo'. Portuguese also uses h, but adds it to n to make ñ, as in caminho, or vinho, or A Corunha; or l to make a similar sound to the ll of Spanish e.g. vilha. The final trick is to use diacritics, i.e. little marks added above or below existing letters to represent new sounds e.g. ç, which is the s sound in French, but the ch sound in Turkish.

As to whether these diacritics or double letters become recognised as part of the official, taught alphabet really just depends on whether the country that speaks that particular language has an academy to take that decision. English doesn't - probably just as well, as few subjects provoke conflict as quickly as language.
 

Aspi

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
There was. Judeo-Portuguese.

I know this is really a digression from the thread about ñ. But it is an interesting topic. So, for those who are not interested, feel free to skip this.

There are actually a ton of these Jewish Diaspora languages, which are often local languages written in a Hebrew script. Ladino alone has several forms. Here in North America, people are likely more familiar with Yiddish (from the German word for Jewish). Both Ladino and Yiddish are primarily the languages of Jews who had lived a long time in one area and then moved elsewhere. Yiddish was a language formed in Germany but transformed somewhat when the speakers moved east to Poland and Russia. Thus, it is about 3/4 German and the rest filled in with Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, etc. depending on where the speaker's family came from. On the other hand, when the Spanish Jews left Spain after 1492, they went south to North Africa and then to the eastern Mediterranean. So you can get Turkish or Greek or Arabic entering the language, again depending on where the speaker's family hailed from.

Unlike Spain, Portugal didn't expel its Jews. It just forcibly converted them in 1497, driving them underground. Emigration really began only four decades later, with the arrival of the inquisition. By that point, the Jewish culture in Portugal had been significantly weakened, presumably making the language not as robust an export as Judeo-Spanish.
 

Aspi

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
.
The University of Seattle has a very active department of Sephardic culture - a lot of jews from Salonica went to USA around IIWW.
The sephardic diaspora was also important in Netherlands (Spinoza...), England (Montefiore, Mendoza...) or Italy (the Bible of Ferrara...). There are beautifull YouTube videos by Henry Abrahamson on this topic.
.
 
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Richard of York

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
And in English the same thing happened where older handwritten letters were too difficult to carve into printers blocks originally so were replaced by other letters which are then pronounced ever so slightly differently.
The best example being the letter eth (ð) which is pronounced "th" and was then resurrected in the letter y to create a false historical connection as in Ye olde way. Pronounced The old way. Several old English letters disappeared in a similar manner not unlike Spanish and probably all other languages. By
the way nobody mentioned the disappearance of RR. It was there in the late 50s early 60s. Seems that one faded away rather.
Despite its modern pronunciation, it was actually thorn 'þ', not edh that became the y in 'ye', not to be confused with wynn 'ƿ' which was replaced with w - for a quick history of missing letters of the alphabet this is fun: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/31904/12-letters-didnt-make-alphabet
Icelandic and Faeroese still have edh and thorn.

Sometimes you find pubs called 'ye olde...' This one we pronounce as 'The Old Star (Inn)' unless we're making a point about the pretentiousness of it all (yee oldie starry inny).

1620121582678.png

Taking it even further off topic here's a video on what English would look like today if we hadn't decided to get rid of gender and case
 
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