|Early Modern Spanish|
Early Modern Spanish (also called classical Spanish or Golden Age Spanish, especially in literary contexts) is the variant of Spanish used between the end of the fifteenth century and the end of the seventeenth century, marked by a series of phonological and grammatical changes that transformed Old Spanish into Modern Spanish.
Notable changes from Old Spanish to Early Modern Spanish include: (1) a readjustment of the sibilants (including their devoicing and changes in their place of articulation), (2) the phonemic merger known as yeísmo, (3) the rise of new second-person pronouns, (4) the emergence of the "se lo" construction for the sequence of third-person indirect and direct object pronouns, and (5) new restrictions on the order of clitic pronouns.
Early Modern Spanish corresponds to the period of Spanish colonization of the Americas, and thus it forms the historical basis of all varieties of New World Spanish. Meanwhile, Judaeo-Spanish preserves some archaisms of Old Spanish that disappeared from the rest of the variants, such as the presence of voiced sibilants and the maintenance of the phonemes /?/ and /?/.
Early Modern Spanish, however, was not uniform throughout the Spanish-speaking regions of Spain. Each change has its own chronology and, in some cases, geography. Slightly different pronunciations existed simultaneously. The Spanish spoken in Toledo was taken as the "best" variety and was different from that of Madrid.
From the late 16th century to the mid-17th century, the voiced sibilants /z?/, /z?/, /?/ lost their voicing and merged with their respective voiceless counterparts: laminal , apical , and palatal , resulting in the phonemic inventory shown below:
Spelling in Early Modern Spanish was anarchic, unlike the Spanish of today, which is governed and standardized by the Real Academia Española, a semi-governmental body. There was no reference book or other authority writers or compositors could turn to, to find the "correct" spelling of a word. In fact, spelling was not considered very important. Sometimes words were spelled according to their Latin origin, rather than their actual pronunciation (trasumpto instead of trasunto). That presents a challenge to modern editors of texts from the period, who are forced to choose what spelling(s) to use. The radical proposals of Gonzalo Correas were not adopted.