RAE unexpectedly removes two ‘invaders’ from the Spanish alphabet

by Lorraine Williamson

The Real Academia Española (RAE) in Madrid has decided to permanently remove two “letters” from the alphabet. A measure that came as a surprise to many people.

The RAE regularises the Spanish language in the Spanish-speaking world. And is responsible for ensuring the unity of the language to the needs of the Spanish speakers.

RAE Competence

As an institution empowered to make changes to the language, the RAE may add or remove the words, letters, characters, and lines as it deems necessary.

Now, the RAE has made the decision to remove two characters that were traditionally considered letters. It’s about “ch” and “ll”. When reciting the alphabet, many doubted whether they should consider these two characters as letters.

Cogesa Expats

Two-letter groups

Contrary to popular belief, the “ch” and the “ll” are not individual letters. They are two-letter groups, sounds represented by two letters. In this case, “ch” and “ll” represent phonemes that are pronounced as a single sound, which sets them apart from individual letters. And because they are not letters, they are not part of the Spanish alphabet. The same goes for the diphthongs, qu, gu, rr. There was less confusion about the last three.

The exclusion of the two-letter groups “ch” and “ll” from the Spanish alphabet has been announced by the Royal Spanish Academy in its Español al Día section. Although this rule was not widely known, it is important to keep it in mind and apply it correctly.

Ch and ll remain part of the Spanish language

It is important to note that the elimination of “ch” and “ll” from the alphabet does not mean that they disappear from the graphical system of the Spanish language, the RAE points out. “We will continue to use these double characters when writing Spanish words, just like before”.

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