AP launches its first Spanish-language stylebookBy DAMASO GONZALEZ Nov. 21, 2012
Those and thousands of other terms are included in the first-ever Spanish Stylebook published by The Associated Press, designed as the go-to reference guide for journalists, writers, editors and scholars of the language spoken by an estimated 450 million people globally.
The online stylebook was presented at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York, with a panel of editors from the news cooperative and other media organizations discussing the intricacies of writing in Spanish.
"I think the media has a moral responsibility to use the correct Spanish, because it is the only thing we can bequeath to future generations," Isaac Lee, news editor for the Spanish-language television station Univision, said at the Monday presentation.
The Spanish Stylebook currently has more than 3,500 entries on topics including finance, sports, entertainment and fashion.
The original AP Stylebook in English, which first came out in 1953, has long been the gold standard of style reference books in the journalism industry, with paperback copies still commonly scattered around the newsrooms of media outlets in the United States and the world. Now also online, the English Stylebook is more than just a collection of rules and has been described as part dictionary, part encyclopedia and part textbook for writers and editors.
With 486 pages containing 4,825 entries, the English-language version of the AP Stylebook is recognized worldwide as an essential reference for good writing. With the Spanish-language version, the original concept remains: to provide a uniform presentation of the printed word, to make a story written anywhere understandable everywhere.
AP editors said the Spanish Stylebook aims to unify standards for that language in order to improve communication among speakers of the language worldwide.
"Our objective with this stylebook is to apply a universal Spanish and counter the use of regionalisms that in many occasions cause confusion," said Jorge Covarrubias, a veteran editor with the AP's Spanish news service and among the authors of the Stylebook.
Marjorie Miller, AP's Editor for Latin America and the Caribbean, called the reference book "an essential tool" for Spanish language media, some of which she said had tried to translate the English Stylebook themselves.
"We were hearing from a lot of clients that there was a need for this," she said.
Miller noted that because it is online the Stylebook can be continually updated to incorporate new terms and usage with input from users.
Spanish words can differ dramatically from country to country, and users of AP's Spanish Stylebook will be able to discover the different meanings of words such as "guagua," which means "bus" in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, but "baby" in the Southern Cone. The Stylebook notes that in Spanish, a swimming pool is called "alberca" in some countries, and "pileta" or "piscina" in others.
The guide also includes newly minted terms from the world of online social media, such as "tuit" for Tweet, or "emoticono" for emoticon.
AP's standards editor, Thomas Kent, stressed the need to use Spanish with precision, including in reference to immigration issues.
While AP's Spanish Stylebook allows the use of "illegal immigrant," the term must be used with care, Kent said. The term does not fit, he said, in the case of a child brought to the United States by parents who entered the country illegally. He noted that the Stylebook allows many different terms to describe an individual's precise legal status.
Edward Schumacher-Matos, NPR's ombudsman and founder of the Spanish media company Rumbo Newspapers/Meximerica Media, said different terms are necessary to describe a wide range of immigrant experiences.
"I understand that there are people who would rather not use the term 'illegal immigrant,' but there are others who understand it that way and prefer to see it described that way," said Schumacher-Matos.
Still being studied is the difference in how accent marks are handled by the AP's two Stylebooks.
AP's Spanish service uses accent marks common to the written language. But AP's English-language stories do not use accents for Hispanic names or other Spanish words for technological reasons. Accents don't transmit through all computer systems of members in the AP cooperative or other English-language subscribers, and can sometimes show up as garble in newspapers and websites.
The Spanish-language online guide, which includes a chapter on the AP's journalistic principles, is now being offered only to clients of the AP's Spanish news service, but will be available for others early next year. The cost is $26 a year for an individual subscription and $210 a year for a license of up to 10 people, an introductory rate which is one third of the regular price.
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