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The Use of Written Accents in the Spanish of the United States, Latin America, and Spain: Journalistic Standards  


Laura Callahan


ITINERARIOS, Vol. 7/2008


Original title: El uso del acento ortográfico en el español de los Estados Unidos, América Latina y España: normas periodísticas

Key words
: heritage speakers, journalistic language, orthographic accent, Spanish-for-Native-Speakers, Spanish in the U.S.

: The orthographic accent is one of the most troublesome features of written Spanish for native and heritage speakers to master. Although some written accents do serve to distinguish verb person and tense, and to differentiate homographs, their functional weight is relatively low. Nevertheless, incorrect accent placement stigmatizes the writer, who may be perceived as less intelligent than one whose work displays complete control over mechanics. Such writers receive lower grades in college courses, and the texts they produce are less competitive in many non-academic arenas. Journalistic language – such as that printed in major newspapers and spoken on the nightly news – has traditionally served as a standard for normative usage, with the attendant expectation that it be error-free. This paper reports on an analysis of written accentuse in nine newspapers, published variously in Spain, Latin America, and the United States. The results show a progression of deviations from standard usage in those three regions.

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