Roberto Perezdiaz was born in Gonzales, California, in 1942. He helped his parents in the lettuce and carrot fields; in 1984, he started working as a Federally Certified Court Interpreter (FCCI) in El Paso, Texas, till retirement in December 2010.
After studying at El Colegio de México (COLMEX) under Master Philologist Antonio Alatorre, he undertook the multiyear endeavor to translate his most successful publication: 1001 Years of the Spanish Language. Roberto has also published a collection of short stories in Spanish: Más sabe el diablo, and many short stories in both English and Spanish in various literary journals, Montréal, Québec, Mexico (CDMX), and online e-zines.
This history of Spanish is in the voice of a master storyteller beginning as does the Bible; with the “word” one of the oldest words in the Spanish language, “rose,” yes, the flower before there was Spanish there was a rose. Antonio takes us along the linguistic paths of Spanish of a small, localized area of the northern Iberian Peninsula across history from the Romans, Celts, Arabs into the vibrant language spoken throughout the world today. Documenting with all its rich literary genres and historical anecdotes the evidence to prove how literature gives us the clues to the spoken Spanish of today, including prison slang from Spain to Lunfardo slang in Argentina from risqué to the divine; in its rich diversity, there is a remarkable cohesion that gives contemporary Spanish a clean bill of health.
This is a remarkable book, for two principal reasons: first, its unique approach to its subject, treating language as a living entity; second, its singular method of analysis, in which Alatorre reconciles the diachronic and the synchronic, the historical and the periodic. That makes this book not only a precious linguistic handbook on the evolution of the Spanish language and a cultural chronicle of Hispanic civilization, and what is more, an exemplary dissertation on the relation between the collective mind and the material development of Spain. While authoritative histories of the Spanish language exist, no other makes of its stylistic dimension an epistemological tool. In this extraordinary work, Alatorre’s choice of style and rhetorical instruments become essential elements of the approach we need to take toward this history. It is notable in this regard that Roberto Perezdiaz has found a way to replicate the close-to-colloquial tone of the original text in his translation, thus bringing the English reader the full import of an exceptional book.