Editorial. Spanish Languages around the World

Dr. Alberto Vital
Revista [Spanish for magazine] wants to take us to review, to visit, to view. The fourth Issue of our UNAM Internacional magazine views, reviews, visits, and revisits Spanish language, which in the meanwhile moves around the four corners of the world. 

Language is so inherent to the human species that the key to know whether artificial intelligence has reached the natural one will be admitting that a robot can speak like a person. 

Speak. Speak to each other. Listen to each other. After nearly seven decades of writing about the most secret mechanisms of language, Noam Chomsky is still astonished about how a “school” as precarious and erratic as a household with distracted adults can be, is enough for us in our early childhood to learn to express ourselves according to complicated implicit rules without major mistakes. Here is the eighth wonder: the word at the tip of our tongue or our pencil. 

UNAM, the highest academy of the nation, sheds constant light on a mysterious phenomenon of everyday life: the emission and reception of complex and coherent messages. We study language as a whole and examine Spanish language—Spanish languages—in so many of its particularities and specificities. This fourth issue includes contributions from the National School of Languages, Linguistics, and Translation, UNAM’s schools in Chicago and Canada, our offices in China, Spain, the United Kingdom, Boston, and San Antonio, the Teaching Center for Foreigners, the Office for International Cooperation and Internationalization, the School of Engineering (through the Palacio de Minería International Book Fair), the Research Institute on Philology, and the Coordination for Cultural Dissemination. Other institutions travel with us from different regions of the country and from countries as diverse as Peru, South Africa, New Zealand, and Vietnam. It is the joy of thinking about language that gathers us. 

It is also an interdisciplinary issue. Economics, society, and literature are referrers that multiply perspectives and confirm that language concerns everyone who uses it, of course, and also everyone who explicitly or implicitly desires to understand such a relevant instrument. 

The magazine’s sections are nourished with ideas on pan-Hispanism, the economic value of Spanish language, inclusive language, publishing life, language tourism, the emergence of Hispanic studies, Hispanity, and inclusion, among other topics. There is, for example, the topic of languages in contact: Mexico is, linguistically, very diverse, a tireless mine of living experiences when two languages intertwine, mix, combine, move apart, and come closer again in a single dialogue and sometimes in a single head. 

Each of the sections should be highlighted. I can only refer here to the decision to interview poets, essayists, and novelists about their bonds to language and inclusive language. The Entrevista (Interview) section could use as a prologue Carmen Curcó’s article on the topic. And her text will refer to Érika Erdely and Héctor García’s enjoyable contrastive analysis between Spanish and English. In turn, these pages will lead to “Spanish in the Far North: Hispanic Identity in the Canadian Academy.” And at the same time, this will lead to… 

I would also like to refer to the graphic report on libraries, collections, and books that the editorial team chose for the Enfoque section to take this issue to its highest point and culmination: a remarkable work by Clara Araujo and Ximena Gómez, with the support of Gisel Cosío, Academic Technician at the Coordination for Cultural Dissemination, and Salvador Mendoza, Technical Secretary of the General Direction of Libraries and Digital Information Services, to whose head, Elsa Margarita Ramírez Leyva Ph.D., I extend my full gratitude. 

I also want to highlight the Teaching Center for Foreigners students’ testimonials, as tangible evidence of how much learning Spanish means to new generations from all over the world. 

A Rarámuri girl says for the first time the words araucaria, pie [foot], camino [path]. A Quechua boy combines similar sounds to say acequia [ditch], pez [fish], contigo [together]. Thousands of kilometers away, a language could unite them. And, without shedding their native language, they will be proud to utter the same words Sor Juana, Reyes, and Borges did.
Director of the Teaching Center for Foreigners

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