On the occasion of the3rd Centenary of the Spanish Royal Academy(RAE), a self-adhesive stamp is being issued by Spanish Correosto pay tribute to this institution that oversees the correct use of Spanish grammar and vocabulary.
In 1713, Juan Manuel Fernandez Pacheco, marquess of Villena, founded the Spanish Royal Academy (RAE) to watch over the Spanish language. The first article of its statutes states: "The main mission is to ensure that the changes undergone by the Spanish language in its constant adaptation to speakers' needs do not break up the unity maintained throughout the Hispanic sphere". Three centuries later, the RAE is still preserving the good use and unity of a language that is always evolving and expanding, with almost 500 million Spanish speakers across the world.
The RAE's activities are governed by the statutes of the institution - five since it was founded - which have changed to keep pace with the culture and language. The first statute was approved by King Philip V in 1715. The following ones were approved in 1848, 1859, 1977 and the last in 1993, by King Juan Carlos I.
At present, the academy consists of 46 permanent academicians who each have a seat designated by letters of the alphabet, using both capital and small letters. Among these are philologists, linguists, poets, translators, journalists, physicists, architects, lawyers, actors and theatre directors. There are also others classed as honorary academicians and corresponding academicians, the latter falling into three types: Spanish, Hispanics and Filipinos, and foreigners.
The RAE works with the Association of Spanish Language Academies (ASALE), an institution comprising more than twenty Academies in Spain, Latin America and the Philippines, and publishes works such as: Diccionario de la lenguaespanola (Dictionary of the Spanish language), Ortografia de la gramaticaespanola (Orthography of Spanish grammar), Nueva gramatica de la lenguaespanola (New grammar of the Spanish language), Diccionario panhispanico de dudas (Dictionary of pan-Hispanic queries) and Diccionario de americanismos (Dictionary of Americanisms). Another great publication is the Diccionario de autoridades (Authoritative Dictionary), which explains the true meaning of words, and is so called because it includes quotes from writers to support the definition.
The picture on the stamp alludes to the RAE's mission of giving meaning to letters of the alphabet, and shows the Diccionario de la lenguaespanola (Dictionary of the Spanish Language), with three copies arranged as Roman numerals, bearing witness to its third centenary.