In April 2023, the Spanish Ministry of Universities released a draft royal decree redefining the catalogue of fields of knowledge for the assignment of positions in university faculties. Notably, the word Linguistics was entirely omitted from this document, thus effectively excluding Linguistics from being recognized among the descriptors of fields of knowledge. Linguists would likely find themselves compelled to be included within other fields such as Philology or Communication.
In response to this situation, faculty members from Spanish universities specializing in Linguistics initiated objections in an effort to reverse this decision. Scientific societies, scientific journals, advanced research centres, and civil society all joined together in an unprecedented mobilization to provide arguments in favour of the Ministry maintaining the recognition of Linguistic as a field of knowledge.
The Spanish Society of Linguistics (SEL), a member of the International Permanent Committee of Linguists (CIPL), explicitly requested and promptly received a document of support from CIPL. Additionally, support was gathered from other international scientific societies, all of which backed the objections with compelling arguments regarding the global importance of Linguistics. All the documentation collected and submitted to the Ministry can be accessed on a dedicated website.
After examining the documentation and hearing the reasons conveyed through university rectors (some of whom are linguists), ministerial authorities publicly acknowledged in various university forums that the arguments presented were entirely convincing. They unofficially assured that Linguistics would indeed be included in the final text of the Royal Decree.
However, the regional and local elections held on May 28, 2023 resulted in a significant victory for the opposition. These results triggered a government crisis, leading to the dissolution of parliament on May 29, 2023, just one day after the elections, and the calling of general legislative elections. In this state of uncertainty, the processing of all non-urgent legislative changes was put on hold, pending the formation of a new government. The general elections held on July 23, 2023, have produced an uncertain outcome, and it is currently unclear whether a new government will be formed or if new elections will be necessary. Therefore, it is presently impossible to determine whether the draft royal decree will proceed or in what terms it might be processed. In any event, if the new government continues with a royal decree similar to the one under consideration, it would be reasonable to expect that Linguistics will regain its rightful place, given the strength of the arguments presented.
On behalf of the broad community of Spanish linguists, the Spanish Society of Linguistics wishes to express our heartfelt gratitude to CIPL for their unwavering support.
Prof. Victoria Escandell-Vidal, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spanish representative of SEL (Sociedad Española de Lingüística) in CIPL