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THE SPANISH AMERICAN
FORMER PROFESSOR IN THE UNIVERSITY OF LA PLATA
WITH FULL NOTES AND VOCABULARY
D. C. HEATH AND COMPANY
As an educational commissioner from the Argentine Republic to the Panama Pacific International Exposition, I was very much gratified to note the constantly increasing interest on the part of the High Schools and Colleges of this country in the study of the Spanish language. At the same time, realizing from personal investigation that most of those who study Spanish are prompted to do so by the present widespread interest in Spanish America as a legitimate and profitable field for American enterprise, I could not help wondering whether the reading matter used in connection with the study of this language should not be enlarged so as to include some discussion of the subjects directly connected with the work for which these students were preparing themselves.
One of the most amazing things in this country to the visiting Latin American is the almost absolute lack of anything like adequate information as to what the Spanish American countries are doing in the present, or what they have achieved in the past. This lack of information is particularly noticeable in the high-school texts upon History and Geography not to mention those on the less common subjects of social and political economy -- and is most lamentable of all in the text-books in Spanish used by the students of that language.
It seemed to me, therefore, that there was great need of and that the time was ripe for a book which, while affording the student of Spanish abundant exercise in the reading of that tongue, would at the same time give him some adequate idea of the physical aspects of the various Southern republics, their commercial and transportation routes, their agricultural and industrial products, the opportunities they offer for business and industrial investment, and the manners and customs of the people themselves together with their social and political creeds and aspirations, as expressed by their most noted statesmen and writers. It seemed to me that such a book could not fail to be favorably received by both teachers and students in this country.
Moreover, as an educator and a consistent and enthusiastic worker for the establishment of closer social and educational relations between the Americas, it seemed to me that the eagerness with which the American youth is taking up the study of Spanish affords the best possible opportunity for inserting the “entering wedge,” as it were, of that sympathetic understanding which will eventually break down the barrier which has hitherto kept the independent peoples of this continent apart from each other, despite the progress in science, art and education.
But a knowledge of Spanish alone will not conduce toward the realization of the Pan-American ideal, either
in the material or moral sense, unless that knowledge is used as the touchstone toward that deeper and more vital understanding of the social status, ideals and aspirations of “the other Americans."
The usual text-book in Spanish dwells upon the achievements, character and ideals of the Spanish nation and it reveals to the student a wonderful people and a marvelous field of human activity. But it completely ignores the increasingly complex and important phenomena, both social and political, which are being developed in the Hispanic section of the New World, — phenomena which are in many ways more akin to those of this country than to those of Spain.
Here in the New World, new environments and new conditions have given rise to new ways of living and have created a long series of new activities and institutions, with corresponding modifications in the language of the people, - all of which are entitled to a place in the reading matter of the American student of Spanish and claim their rightful share of his attention. It seems to me that a knowledge of the New World's contribution to the original Spanish racial inheritance should be of peculiar interest and value to the student of Spanish in the United States, as it will reveal many of the same agencies which have modified the original inheritance of the first settlers in his own country and directed their evolution. He will find in the continent to the south of him geographical con