Cambridge, Mass. – Spain's Instituto Cervantes and Harvard University presented Friday a center for the study of the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures in the United States.
The Instituto Cervantes Observatory of the Spanish Language and Hispanic Cultures, which started up in July but was officially launched Friday with a public inauguration ceremony, aims to set international standards for the analysis of Spanish and all things Hispanic in the most powerful country on the planet.
It is as yet impossible to predict what will happen with the Spanish language in this country, because the appropriate studies are lacking, Instituto Cervantes director Victor Garcia de la Concha told Efe.
The United States is projected by 2050 to surpass Mexico as the world's largest Spanish-speaking country, with more than 132 million Hispanics.
"Whenever we talk about Spanish in the U.S., we talk about the number of Spanish-speakers, but that tells us little, because how faithful to their mother tongue are those who move here? Do they continue to speak it?" asked Garcia de la Concha.
"We need a reference center to study what is happening and to create a method to answer these questions - then we can have an evaluation of Spanish in the United States," the Cervantes director said.
The observatory has the sponsorship of Banco Santander, Spain's No. 1 bank, which will provide 1 million euros ($1.3 million) over the next four years.
The bank's executive chairman, Emilio Botin, said Friday that he's "pleased" with the project, after a meeting with De la Concha and Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust.
The purpose of the observatory is to determine "what is happening not only with the language, but also in the media, in elementary and high schools, and with the Hispanic population in general from a sociological point of view," the center's director, Francisco Moreno, told Efe.