Today’s Google Doodle pays homage to Ñ in the Spanish alphabet
The beauty of the Google Doodle is that it can be used to highlight just about anything or anyone. Once again this week, Google’s Doodle Earth Day highlighted the critical importance of tree planting, especially because the Earth’s climate and environmental strength appear to be deteriorating so rapidly. Today, however, Google uses its Doodle to draw attention to the letter Ñ, which is apparently the only letter in the Spanish alphabet originally from Spain. The letter, which bears a small tilde on itself, is now an important part of Hispanic identity and has a fascinating history.
According to to google, in the 12th century, Spanish scribes were busy copying Latin manuscripts by hand and translating them into Spanish. Since it was a long and laborious job, the scribes decided to save time by shortening some words with double letters; in doing so, they developed the letter n with a little doodle on it to signify this change. An example of what this meant is that the Latin word for the year, annus, became año in Spanish. Ñ was finally officially listed in the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy in 1803, and to this day the letter appears in an astonishing 17,700 Spanish words.
The Google Doodle itself is incredibly abstract, and it was made by Barcelona-based artist Min. “I’m a typography lover, so it was special to celebrate a character so rarely used in languages other than Spanish,” Min said in an interview. “For the artwork, I was most inspired by the geometric shapes and colors of the flags of Spanish-speaking countries.” When asked what message they hoped people would get from their Doodle, Min was equally eloquent. “Language is a living organism and is part of our identity. Our differences are what make us unique. ”