Quixote is spelled with “K”

A news release has delighted some and annoyed others: spelling will once again be taken into account in the assessments of Cuban schools.  The reign of the missing accents and of “s” replaced by “c” is about to end, according to an announcement made on TV a few weeks ago.  Students could fail an exam or even have to repeat the school year if they don’t master the rules of spelling the complex and beautiful language that is Spanish.  We linguists, as expected, are giddy with relief.

I had already become accustomed to deciphering strange words composed according to the personal tastes of each writer.  Even on the blackboards, written by the teachers themselves, the terminology of a new language appeared, adhering to no rules or standards.   Not even my self-assured phonetics, where the “h” has always seemed unnecessary, could remain calm in the face of five-letter words with four errors.  I’m not exaggerating; once I reviewed a history exam where someone had written “sibir” for “civil”.  Of course in that case they were talking about a concept little known in a society like this one, where citizens are considered soldiers, not entities with rights.

One day I got a major fright, however, when I was dictating to the amusing students at a secondary school in Zanja Street.  I happened to come across, on the list of words, the title of the greatest classic of Hispanic letters.  It was a way of reviewing the figure of Cervantes without overloading the test with complicated words such as “shortages” or “proposition.”  The truth is that on reviewing the sheets from that day I found at least a couple of students who had spelled “Quixote” with a “K”.  I could not believe that someone would use a letter with such a small presence in the Spanish dictionaries to write the symbol of our Spanish heritage.

Since that day I understood that spelling is the expression of a general culture that has its basis in reading and books.  How can one ask them to use the appropriate consonants if they don’t even know the meaning and history and certain words?  The officials of the Ministry of Education sensed the same thing when they chose to remove spelling from the evaluations.  Hence, Sancho came to be called “Zancho” and Rocinante… well… who can venture to say what they turned Rocinante into.


8 thoughts on “Quixote is spelled with “K”

  1. Spanish is an immensely beautiful language.I’ve always been interested in it,thank’s to Dora the explorer.I would learn it;i know a few word’s,but not how to form a whole sentence.It’s amazing how you find such meaningful and almost philosopical thing’s in such minor,if you like,situation’s.Ofcourse,though i do’nt the big deal in mispelling,i’m sure you do;for your the one living in Cuba and teaching,not me.

  2. Yes sir, Thank You Translator you sure make Yoanni’s words easy to read, and thanks to all the other that put that finishin touch on the translations to get them “just right”. Yoanni to me is “window” of the repression that many live in under that iron fist. Technology is great as now the world beats as one. We need to get more cameras and internet acess to Cuba, how ever possible.

  3. BTW Humberto, it’s spelled Twitter not Tweeter but the messages ARE called “Tweets” not Twits”.

    In Great Britain “Quixote” is pronounced “Kwicksott”, even by Cervantes scholars. No wonder they might have trouble with the spelling.

    Best regards,


  4. Thank you English Translator, your work is commendable! Thanks for doing such an excellent job. God bless.

  5. “there” vs “they” — That’s one of those weird typos I make more and more lately… it’s not a mistake of my fingers, it’s a mistake of my deteriorating brain. I find, oddly, that if I don’t look at the screen when I type I don’t make them… go figure… guess we’ll need a neurologist to weigh in.

    “amusing” vs “entertaining” — well I kept changing it back and forth as I translated and finally settled on entertaining… but since you were kind enough to read the article with such care and write about it… I changed it back to “amusing”!

    Best regards, Your Friendly English Translator

  6. To our able translator.
    This is not a critique just an observation.
    In the second paragraph on your last sentence, you say: “Of course, in that case there were talking” Shouldn’t you say: “Of course, in that case they were talking…”
    And on the third paragraph: “When I was dictating to the entertaining students” or should you say: “When I was dictating to the amusing students”
    Again, don’t take it wrong, you are doing a commendable an excellent job. I would like your comment, please. Thanks.

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