A Language for All

From The Washington Post:

As hundreds of teenagers flooded the dimly lit street for the student government rally, 18-year-old Natalia Mira raised her hand in the air and led them in a chant.

It was a song often heard among young people at political rallies in Buenos Aires, an ode to a former Argentine president, the populist Juan Perón, and his wife, Eva.

“We will fight from sun to sun,” they sang in front of their high school. “We are the youth, the soldiers of Perón.”

. . . .

In Spanish, a language in which all nouns are assigned a gender, the word for soldiers is masculine: “Los soldados de Perón.”

The lyrics Mira sang were different: “Les soldades.”

To most Spanish speakers, the “e” in both words would sound jarring — and grammatically incorrect.

But here, teenagers are rewriting the rules of the language to eliminate gender. In classrooms and daily conversations, young people are changing the way they speak and write — replacing the masculine “o” or the feminine “a” with the gender-neutral “e” in certain words — in order to change what they see as a deeply gendered culture.

. . . .

In the United States, the use of the singular “they” has become so common that Merriam-Webster in September adopted its use as a pronoun for non-binary people. In France, a school textbook promoting a gender-neutral version of French prompted the prime minister to ban the form in all official government documents. In Germany, dozens of influential figures protested local efforts to adopt gender-neutral language.

. . . .

In Argentina, Mira’s casual use of gender-neutral language in a television interview helped it spread across the country. Now the new form of grammar is finding official acceptance.

Departments from at least five universities across Argentina have announced that they will accept the use of this “inclusive” Spanish in schoolwork. The gender-neutral words are splattered on banners and campaign fliers and graffiti in the capital. After a judge stirred controversy by using the form in a recent court decision, an oversight committee of magistrates declared that it is now permissible for judges to use the gender-neutral words.

Link to the rest at The Washington Post

PG always had problems with gendered elements of French and Spanish and thinks that future generations of English-speaking students of foreign languages will think this is a good thing.

6 thoughts on “A Language for All”

  1. I’m Terrence OBrien

    My experience with the new comment requirements:

    1. Give WP a my cat’s name as a screen name.
    2. Give WP an email.
    3. Get WP link in email to make up PW.
    4. Let browser save PW.

    All that is a one-time thing.

    Now, when I go to TPV, I enter nothing other than the text of the comment. No name, no PW, No email. Just the text of the comment itself. After doing 1-4 above, it’s easier than it has ever been.

    Did 1-4 on a ChromeBook.
    Then it worked on both ChromeBook and Windows machine.

    Conclusion: Transaction costs for making a comment are far lower than they have ever been.

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