The Spanish Language in Politics and Journalism

Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, and it’s been making headlines recently for various reasons relating to the press itself and politics. The large number of Spanish speakers living in the United States – primarily of Mexican origin – has prompted candidates to start spending money on Spanish-language advertising around election time. The ad spending for Spanish ads is still only a tiny fraction of that for English, but it’s a sign of the increasingly diverse and multi-cultural face on 21st Century America.

In general, Latinos leaned towards Obama in the most recent election, in large part due to his policies on immigration. Even so, Obama put more money into bringing in Latino votes this time around than his opposing candidate did. Although the spending on Spanish ads was relatively small compared to English language ads, that needs to be put in context – over 10 states studied, over $300 million were spent on Spanish-language advertising. This reinforces more than ever that Spanish speakers represent a powerful voting bloc in this and future elections.

In other news, the Associated Press has just put out the first standardized style guide for journalists reporting in Spanish. The introduction of the stylebook – which is available online – has been praised by linguistic purists and journalists alike. It will allow for the same standardization of language use across Spanish publications worldwide that has been applied to English-language journalism for many years. Many Spanish journalists consider it to be a development which was long overdue – the English AP Stylebook, after all, was first releasd in 1953.

Use of regional terms or spellings in Spanish journalism can often make it difficult for news pieces to be understood by other Spanish speakers in different parts of the world. The introduction of the stylebook will make it easier for more Spanish publications to distribute their stories on a wider scale while still being easily understood by Spanish speakers and readers worldwide. The guide even contains a section covering newly invented terms applying to the Internet and social media.

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