Thursday, July 21, 2022

Gender neutral words in gendered languages

Novel pronouns haven't been widely adopted in English, but committees now have chairs or chairpersons, and there are some attempts not merely to avoid assigning male or female genders to words when they're not needed (like chairman), but also to avoid suggesting genders at all.  That's going to be tougher in languages in which all words have genders, or in which the conjugation of verbs involves choosing a gender.  Take Spanish for instance.

The NY Times has the story:

In Argentina, One of the World’s First Bans on Gender-Neutral Language. The city of Buenos Aires blocked the use of gender-inclusive language in schools, reigniting off a debate that is reverberating across the world.   By Ana Lankes

"Instead of “amigos,” the Spanish word for “friends,” some Spanish speakers use “amigues.” In place of “todos,” or “all,” some write “todxs.” And some signs that would say “bienvenidos,” or “welcome,” now say “bienvenid@s.”


"Similar gender-neutral language is being increasingly introduced across Latin America, as well as in other languages, including English and French, by supporters who say it helps create a more inclusive society.


"The city government in Buenos Aires, the nation’s capital, last month banned teachers from using any gender-neutral words during class and in communications with parents. 


"The policy, among the first anywhere to specifically forbid the use of gender-neutral language, provoked a swift backlash. Argentina’s top education official criticized the rule and at least five organizations, a mix of gay rights and civil rights groups, have filed lawsuits seeking to overturn it.

"Jaime Perczyk, Argentina’s education minister, compared the measure to prohibitions against left-handed writing under the fascist dictatorship of Francisco Franco in Spain.


"Argentina is a surprising place for such a heated debate on gender-neutral language because the country has largely embraced transgender rights. In 2012, it became one the first countries in the world to pass a law allowing people to change their gender on official documents without requiring the intervention of a doctor or a mental health therapist."

No comments: