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Spanish orthography is the orthography used in the Spanish language. The alphabet uses the Latin script. The spelling is fairly phonemic, especially in comparison to more opaque orthographies like English, having a relatively consistent mapping of graphemes to phonemes; in other words, the pronunciation of a given Spanish-language word can largely be predicted from its spelling and to a slightly lesser extent vice versa. Notable features of Spanish punctuation include the lack of the serial comma and the inverted question and exclamation marks: ⟨¿⟩ ⟨¡⟩.

Spanish uses capital letters much less often than English; they are not used on adjectives derived from proper nouns (e.g. francés, español, portugués from Francia, España, and Portugal, respectively) and book titles capitalize only the first word (e.g. La rebelión de las masas).

Spanish uses only the acute accent, over any vowel: ⟨á é í ó ú⟩. This accent is used to mark the tonic (stressed) syllable, though it may also be used occasionally to distinguish homophones such as si ('if') and ('yes'). The only other diacritics used are the tilde on the letter ⟨ñ⟩, which is considered a separate letter from ⟨n⟩, and the diaeresis used in the sequences ⟨güe⟩ and ⟨güi⟩—as in bilingüe ('bilingual')—to indicate that the ⟨u⟩ is pronounced, [w], rather than having the usual silent role that it plays in unmarked ⟨gue⟩ and ⟨gui⟩.

In contrast with English, Spanish has an official body that governs linguistic rules, orthography among them: the Royal Spanish Academy, which makes periodic changes to the orthography. It is the policy of the Royal Spanish Academy that, when quoting older texts, one should update spelling to the current rules, except in discussions of the history of the Spanish language.[citation needed]

Cover of the first volume of the Diccionario de autoridades, showing obsolete usages like "Phelipe", "eſta", "Impreſsór".

In early printing, the long s ⟨ſ⟩ was a different version of ⟨s⟩ used at the beginning or in the middle of a word. In Spain, the change to use a round s everywhere as in the current usage was mainly accomplished between the years 1760 and 1766; for example, the multi-volume long s ⟨ſ⟩ was a different version of ⟨s⟩ used at the beginning or in the middle of a word. In Spain, the change to use a round s everywhere as in the current usage was mainly accomplished between the years 1760 and 1766; for example, the multi-volume España Sagrada made the switch with volume 16 (1762).

From 1741[35] to 1815, the circumflex was used over vowels to indicate that preceding ⟨ch⟩ and ⟨x⟩ should be pronounced /k/ and /ks/ respectively and not /tʃ/ and /x/, e.g. patriarchâ, exâctitud.

The use of accent marks in publishing varies with different historical periods, due mainly to reforms promulgated by the Spanish Royal Academy. For example, many of

From 1741[35] to 1815, the circumflex was used over vowels to indicate that preceding ⟨ch⟩ and ⟨x⟩ should be pronounced /k/ and /ks/ respectively and not /tʃ/ and /x/, e.g. patriarchâ, exâctitud.

The use of accent marks in publishing varies with different historical periods, due mainly to reforms promulgated by the Spanish Royal Academy. For example, many of the words that are today standardly written with an accent mark appeared more often without it up until around 1880. These include words with final stress ending in -n (e.g. capitán, también, jardín, acción, común—but not future-tense verb forms like serán, tendrán);[36][37] verbs in the imperfect tense (e.g. tenía, vivían);[38] the possessives mío and mía;[39] and the word día.[40] Meanwhile, one-letter words other than the conjunction y—namely the preposition a and the conjunctions e (the form of y before an [i] sound), o, and u (form of o before [o])—are generally written with accent marks from the mid-1700s to 1911.[41][42][43] The accent-marked infinitive oír begins to outnumber the unaccented form around 1920.[44] Monosyllabic preterit verb forms such as dio and fue were usually written with accent marks before the 1950s.[45]

The names of numbers in the upper teens and the twenties were originally written as three words (e.g. diez y seis, veinte y nueve), but nowadays they have come to be spelled predominantly as a single word (e.g. dieciséis, veintinueve). For the numbers from 21 to 29, the "fused" forms emerged over the second half of the 19th century.[46] For those from 16 to 19, the one-word forms took the lead in the 1940s.[47] Fusing of number-names above 30 (e.g. treintaicinco, cuarentaiocho)[48] is rare.

In spite of the relatively regular orthography of Spanish, there have been several initiatives to simplify it further. Andrés Bello succeeded in making his proposal official in several South American countries, but they later returned to the standard set by the Real Academia Española.[49] Another proposal, Ortografía R̃asional Ispanoamerikana, remained a curiosity.[50][51] Juan Ramón Jiménez proposed changing ⟨ge⟩ and ⟨gi⟩ to ⟨je⟩ and ⟨ji⟩, but this is only applied in editions of his works or those of his wife, Zenobia Camprubí. Gabriel García Márquez raised the issue of reform during a congress at Zacatecas, most notoriously advocating for the suppression of ⟨h⟩, which is mute in Spanish, but, despite his prestige, no serious changes were adopted. The Academies, however, from time to time have made minor changes, such as allowing este instead of éste ('this one'), when there is no possible confusion.

A Mexican Spanish convention is to spell certain indigenous words with ⟨x⟩ rather than the ⟨j⟩ that would be the standard spelling in Spanish. This is generally due to the origin of the word (or the present pronunciation) containing the voiceless postalveolar fricative Mexican Spanish convention is to spell certain indigenous words with ⟨x⟩ rather than the ⟨j⟩ that would be the standard spelling in Spanish. This is generally due to the origin of the word (or the present pronunciation) containing the voiceless postalveolar fricative /ʃ/ sound or another sibilant that is not used in modern standard Spanish. The most noticeable word with this feature is México (see Toponymy of Mexico). The Real Academia Española recommends this spelling.[52] The American Spanish colloquial term chicano is shortened from mechicano, which uses /tʃ/ in place of the /ʃ/ of rural Mexican Spanish /meʃiˈkano/.

Spanish has the unusual feature of indicating the beginning of an interrogative or exclamatory sentence or phrase with inverted variants of the question mark and exclamation mark (⟨¿⟩ and ⟨¡⟩), respectively. Most languages that use the Latin alphabet (including Spanish) use question and exclamation marks at the end of sentences and clauses. These inverted forms appear additionally at the beginning of these sentences or clauses. For example, the English phrase "How old are you?" has just the final question mark, while the Spanish equivalent, ¿Cuántos años tienes? begins with an inverted question mark.

The inverted question and exclamation marks were gradually adopted following the Real Academia's recommendations in the second edition of the Ortografía de la lengua castellana in 1754.

Arabic alphabet

In the 15th and 16th centuries, dialectal Spanish (as well as Portuguese and Ladino) was sometimes written in the Arabic alphabet by moriscos. This form of writing is called aljamiado.

See also