The Future of Our Languages

As the world becomes more open to gender identity, many countries are adopting this social movement through changes in their languages. In English, non-gender conforming people use pronouns like “they” and “them.” Since English does not assign gender to these words, they are a perfect fit for people who don’t want to present themselves as female or male. In other languages, though, this is not possible, because every word is gendered. In Spanish, for example, both “ellos” and “ellas,” the pronouns for “they,” have male and female connections. With the surge in the acceptance of gender identities other than these two, people are pushing for gender-neutral pronouns in Spanish. In Argentina, the youth have started to make this a priority and have been holding rallies and protests to try and make the newer gender neutral pronouns, such as “elles,” more widely accepted. Their rallying has started a wave of acceptance in the country as now important political figures and judges have begun to use the words. Even some famous works such as The Little Prince have been translated into Spanish using these new neutral forms.

The push for gender inclusivity is not just a protest against the lack of pronoun options for non-binary people, but it is also a protest against the language’s patriarchal ways. In many languages, when one man is in a room full of women, the group is still addressed with a masculine plural ending, despite the group being mostly female. Although this is a fundamental part of many old and widely used languages, some people are starting to call it into question.

The most official pushback against this wave of change has been from the Royal Spanish Academy, which is an institution that maintains the purity of the language. They have said that they do not accept these changes as they believe there is no reason for the change.  Despite this, Argentina’s push has started to slowly spread to other nearby countries, so it seems that, at least on a small scale, the language is evolving.

Zoe Gast

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