Pedro Álvarez de Miranda
This cycle of two conference pretendes to offer a historic panorama spanning for something more than five centuries: the time between the Spanish-Latin dictionary of Nebrija and the current Diccionario del español actual directed by Manuel Seco. It is a history that pivots without doubt around a central hinge, which corresponds to the dictionaries of the Real Academia Española, founded now exactly three hundred years ago. The academic dictionary has reached such a hegemonic spot in the history of Spanish lexicography that the Real Academia Española revolves around it, and this is why it is relevant to speak about pre-academic lexicography, an academic lexicography, and an extra-academic lexicography.
The first period of our trip opens up with the first dictionary (bilingual) in Europe that takes a modern language as the starting point: the Spanish-Latin dictionary of Nebrija appeared around 1495 and had a notable influence over many other posterior bilingual repertories. Another milestone with which Spain was also pioneer was the publication of the first monolingual dictionary, Tesoro de la lengua castellana o española by Sebastián de Covarrubias in 1611.
The Real Academia Española was founded in 1713 and its members concentrated since its beginning in the task of creating a great dictionary of the Spanish language in which each word would be endorsed by a text, by an example of use. In thirteen years (1726) it was published the first volume of a work that as time passed would get to be known as the Diccionario de autoridades, and which another 13 years later (1739) would be finalized with a total of six volumes. But in 1780 the Academia decided to reduce those six volumes into a single one, removing the references or "authorities", and the result was the first edition of a series that currently is composed by twenty two editions and is now known as the "common dictionary" or "usual".
From the very numerous posterior lexicographic repertories of the Academia, it is worth noting the value of those that did not fall into the temptation of making a close follow-up. This is the case of the Diccionario castellano by Terreros finalized before 1767, of the dictionaries by Salvá and Domínguez (both published in 1846-47), the one of María Moliner (1966-67), and especially the most recent and valuable of all, the Diccionario del español actual by Manuel Seco, a lexicographic milestone comparable in importance with what the first great work of the Real Academia Española signified.