08/25/05 - grammar

In today's excerpt - the reason for producing a textbook on grammar.  In fact, one of the most compelling reasons we've come accross:

"In a small ceremony in the year 1492, at the university city of Salamanca, in north central Spain, Queen Isabella of Castile was presented with the first copy, just off the press, of the humanist Antonio de Nebrija's Grammar of the Castilian language. She was slightly puzzled, and asked to know for what it served. Five years before, she had been presented with a copy of the same author's textbook of Latin grammar, and had found that to be undeniably useful; it had certainly helped her with her own earnest and not always successful efforts to learn Latin. But a grammar of one's everyday spoken tongue, as distinct from the formal study of a language used by professional people and lawyers, was something different. No other European country had yet got round to producing such a thing. Before Nebrija could reply, the queen's confessor, Fray Hernando de Talavera, bishop of Avila, broke in and spoke on his behalf. 'After Your Highness has subjected barbarous peoples and nations of varied tongues,' he explained, 'with conquest will come the need for them to accept the laws that the conqueror imposes on the conquered, and among them will be our language.'

"It was a reply that the queen could understand. ..."


Henry Kamen


Empire: How Spain Became a World Power, 1492-1763


First Perennial


Copyright 2004 by Henry Kamen


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