As I have mentioned in more than one post, I first studied Español in 1985 at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, Texas. (Northwest Campus, to be exact.) As I continue my studies now, 30 years later, I often reckon back to words and grammar principles I learned then and compare them to what I’m learning now online. There have been a few anomalies I’ve wondered about, including one I’ve been meaning to put to Lupita for comment — the use of the familiar tú and its family of verbs vs. usted and its group. But that will have to wait until another post.
No More LL
One of the first matters that perplexed me, upon opening up one of the pronunciation lessons in my online course, was that I noticed some letters (characters, I suppose) missing from what I remembered to be the alphabet (hereinafter el alfabeto). The one that caught my eye — or didn’t catch my eye, to be more accurate — was the LL. It was gone! ¡Hay no más! I then noticed that the RR I remembered learning was also missing. Why would this be? I had a few theories.
Perhaps I was mistaken about having learned these characters back in the day. After all, it was a long, long time ago. The trouble with this theory, though, is that I have a pretty good memory for facts that stick out to me as peculiar. I still remember obscure grammar rules from twelfth-grade English. (Not that I always abide by them.) I remember formulas from tenth-grade geometry, quotes from books I was assigned, movies I saw, etc. If it was worth thinking about a couple of times then, it’s (usually) still with me now. Double-digit characters in an alfabeto definitely fit that description, although I will admit to having missed one of the three. (Perhaps I’m slipping.)
I mentioned these missing characters to Lupita one day last week, while we she was riding along with me to job sites, and she, too, remembered the alfabeto’s containing both the LL and RR. I.e., it wasn’t just my imagination, evidently, that they once existed. So why, then, were they missing now?
I thank God for the Internet. It’s always impressive to me how little effort it takes to research matters in this day and age compared to my school days, where hours going through card catalogs and microfiche were always involved. I finally decided to do a web search (DuckDuckGo; remember?) on the Spanish Alphabet. I came across several of the standard sites I’d seen before — the ones that made no mention of the missing characters I almost knew once existed. I double-checked them before dismissing them.
But then I happened across one link that didn’t look promising, but I clicked it anyway, having little else to do at the moment. I will link to it on my Resources page. It’s called, simply, “alfabeto – Spanish Alphabet,” and it includes the two characters I remembered existing and one more!
Of course, now I was still confused, because it seemed that there was no consistency in the results I was seeing. Some resources didn’t list the characters, and some (at least, one) did include them. What is going on? ¿Qué tal?
1994 = 1984
In the George Orwell novel 1984 (written ca. 1948), the main thrust of Newspeak was to rid the population of the ability to think by removing more and more of their language gradually. Okay, so, the removal of a few characters from a language’s alfabeto is likely a little less nefarious than the restructuring said language for purposes of tyrannizing a nation’s people. However, I did find it quite coincidental that all 3 characters — ch, ll, and rr — were removed from the alfabeto in 1994. I cannot help but wonder what it was about that year that caused whatever powers that be to drop the characters from the alfabeto.
I’m assuming (or, at least, hoping) that, as I continue with my studies, perhaps one of the upcoming lessons and/or books from Rocket Spanish will explain the circumstances under which the removal began. I’m looking forward to impressing mi hermana when I find out what’s going on in this caper. (Unless she beats me to it, claro que sí.) Until then, however, I’ll just plug along with the 27 characters they left us. They’ve been serving me well so far.