Today’s Doodle artwork, illustrated by Barcelona-based guest artist Min, commemorates the consonant Ñ (pronounced “enye”). The only letter in the Spanish alphabet that originated in Spain, the Ñ is not only a letter but a representation of Hispanic heritage and identity as well.
The Ñ’s story started with 12th-century Spanish scribes. While hand-copying Latin manuscripts, these scholars of the Middle Ages devised a plan to save time and parchment by shortening words with double letters. They combined the two figures into one and scrawled on top a tiny “n”—a symbol now known as a ”virgulilla” or tilde—to signify the change. Thus, “annus,” Latin for “year,” evolved into the Spanish “año.”
In 1803, it was officially entered into the Royal Spanish Academy’s dictionary, and in 1993, Spain passed legislation to protect its inclusion in computer keyboards on the grounds of its insuppressible cultural significance. In 2010, the United Nations declared April 23 a day to annually celebrate the Spanish language, one of the most commonly spoken in the world.
Today, the letter Ñ appears in more than 17,700 Spanish words, carving out a fundamental role within the language and Hispanic culture.
Guest Artist Q&A with Min
Today’s Doodle was illustrated by Barcelona-based guest artist Min. Below, they share their thoughts behind the making of this Doodle:
Q: Why was this topic meaningful to you personally?
A: I’m a typography lover, so it felt special to celebrate a character so rarely used in languages other than Spanish.
Q: What were your first thoughts when you were approached about the Doodle? Did you draw inspiration from anything for the artwork?
A: My first thoughts were… Dream project!
For the artwork, I was most inspired by geometric shapes and Spanish-speaking countries’ flag colors.
Q: What message do you hope people take away from your Doodle?
A: Language is a live organism and a part of our identity. Our differences are what make us unique.