When writing in Spanish, it is perfectly acceptable to use the word "sandwich" to describe a tasty snack held together with two pieces of bread, to employ "parquear" to describe putting your vehicle in a garage or parking lot, and to type "vermu" when referring to the aromatized wine essential to concocting a martini or Manhattan cocktail.
Although such words may get on some Spanish speakers' nerves, they represent the continual evolution of the language, say the authors of the new Spanish stylebook by The Associated Press, the Manual de Estilo Online de la AP. "Nocaut" is correctly used to describe a knockout in the boxing ring, they say. "Cederron" can be used when talking about a CD-ROM.
Mexican poet and environmentalist Homero Aridjis will be among the well-known writers and journalists joining AP editors on Monday to discuss such Spanish language usage during the Latin America launch of the new reference tool. El Milenio newspaper columnist Carlos Puig and journalist Rossana Fuentes, a vice president with magazine publisher Grupo Expansion, will also be panelists.
"The Manual de Estilo is for language lovers," said Marjorie Miller, AP editor for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Spanish Service. She called the resource "a fascinating window into the evolution of modern, universal Spanish."
"Editors of the English-language stylebook receive about 50 questions a week on usage via Ask the Editor," said Miller, referring to a feature on the AP Stylebook website, http://www.apstylebook.com/ , that allows subscribers to seek clarification and guidance on style issues.
"We hope to have the same kind of online engagement with our Spanish-speaking subscribers to help grow and refine our Manual de Estilo," she added.
The new manual is designed as a guide for Spanish-language journalists, writers, editors and scholars of the language spoken by an estimated 450 million people globally.
Among the thorny questions it tackles include how to deal with modern technological terms, such as whether "tuitear" can be used to talk about sending a "tweet" from a Twitter account. The resource also weighs in on whether "emoticono" can be employed for the word "emoticon" and whether "faxear" should be used to refer to sending a document on a facsimile machine. (Yes, yes and yes.)
Available only on the Internet, the guide includes thousands of entries just like in AP's English stylebook, which has long been an invaluable resource for American journalists.
Also available online, the English stylebook is 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 say the Spanish stylebook aims to unify standards for that language in order to improve communication among its speakers worldwide. Spanish words can differ dramatically from country to country, and users of the AP's Spanish stylebook will discover the different meanings of words such as "guagua," which means "bus" in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, but "baby" in Chile and the Andean region of Argentina.
Alejandro Manrique, AP deputy editor for Latin America and the Caribbean and director of the Spanish Service, worked with bureau chiefs from multiple countries to compile the manual. AP journalists in Mexico City, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Chile and the U.S. helped out.
"This manual is the result of arduous work by AP's Spanish language team," Manrique said. "Our editors and translators contributed to this project from Patagonia to New York and to Spain, seeking to maintain the highest standards of journalism that have characterized the AP and make the global news agency essential for its clients."
Isaac Lee, president of news for Spanish-language television giant Univision, called the new manual "an incredible gift" during the Nov. 19 U.S. launch of the stylebook at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York. "I think it is an immense help for all of us who practice journalism in Spanish in the region," Lee said.
Jorge Covarrubias, a veteran journalist of AP's Spanish-language service and one of the authors of the manual, notes that the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language acknowledges that Spain now accounts for a little less than 10 percent of the world's Spanish speakers.
The academy now accepts contributions on word usage from 21 other academies recognized as authorities on the language on three continents. Covarrubias is also the secretary general of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language, one of the 21 other authorities.
A major advantage of having an online style manual is the ability to continually update it, Covarrubias said, keeping the guide "eternally young, fresh and useful." Miller said the AP will take suggestions from subscribers, "but we will be the arbiters of AP style and post the vocabulary."
Colleen Newvine, product manager for the AP Stylebook, said clients had been asking for a Spanish manual for years. "The timing was finally right because we had enthusiastic news leadership in Mexico City that recognized the importance of universal Spanish style and because our mobile-optimized subscription website lets us deliver content efficiently to customers in a dozen or more countries," Newvine said.
The Manual de Estilo Online de la AP, 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 will be $26 for an individual annual subscription and $210 a year for a license for up to 10 users. While the site is still in development phase, AP is offering an introductory rate one-third off the regular price.
Associated Press writer Claudia Torrens contributed to this report from New York.
Anita Snow is on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/asnowreports ; Claudia Torrens is on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ClaudiaTorrens
For more information: www.manualdeestiloap.com ; on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_ManualEstilo .