Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 September 2021
The pluricentric status of Spanish is special in that its Academy has the vocation to “purify, fix, and brighten” it, while at the same time acknowledging varietal differences. This chapter first shows that this situation emerged because, after the foundation of the Academy in 1713, the Spanish overseas colonies started to claim their independence, which made it difficult for the Peninsular Academy to impose the norm. The following sections describe how these norms interact, i.e. that certain varieties, particularly Peninsular Spanish, are of higher social prestige than most other varieties. At the same time, a so-called “neutral” (i.e. levelled Latin American) form of Spanish has emerged in international media. The persistence of considerable national differences with no efforts for codification except Mexico and Argentina, however, challenges the establishment of national norms and a supra-national one. The conclusion proposes a three-level model of international Spanish including Peninsular (standard) Spanish, national standards of Spanish, and “español neutro”.