non-sexist Language

By Gemma Towers1

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Lenguaje no sexista

The UNED has recently published a “Guide to non-sexist language” in which it makes a number of recommendations to mitigate the sexism in the language. And yes, I say mitigate because neutralize of time is difficult, not to say impossible. But there are things that can be done and it would be good that we put it into practice. For example, “The administrative documents should be directed to the citizenship with formulas that name specifically to women when you know your sex”, in effect, that measure is very simple and it would be good to carry out or procure the use of words that include both sexes instead of using the masculine generic. We have the brand new noun “person” which includes men and women which can perfectly replace the generic “man”. So when we read the news that “the life expectancy of the modern man is 81 years”, we will not have to keep thinking if it refers to the men and women or only to men.

The guide of the UNED also recommended to avoid the @ sign, the criterion with which I totally agree because what you how read?, what sound corresponds with that sign?

In terms of the “basques and basque” that is so liked Ibarretxe and which made their speeches even more indecipherable, the UNED proposes this alternative as preferable to the masculine generic, but it makes a second proposal that I like more and that is to use a name that encompasses the two genres, say, for example, “students”, instead of “the student” or “students and the students”; “the civil service”, instead of “officers and officials”; or “the undersigned” in place of “the undersigned”.

Proposals are easy to follow that, as I say, mitigate the “default gender” of our language. As a curiosity I will tell them that the basque is the most neutral Spanish and offers different words for nouns which include masculine and feminine, for example gurasoak comprises the father (aita) and the mother (ama), although when we speak in Spanish we always say the aitas copying the structure of the Spanish language and flaunting of this generalization male. This system also has its drawbacks –as a whole, on the other hand – because when you do not express the gender lacuna is as much a friend as a friend and of course, we are left without knowing if that guy that we like has come out with a “friend” or with a “friend” and the truth that information can be decisive.

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Gemma Torres
March 12, 2012

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Guide to non-sexist Language

NOTES

  1. Gemma Torres is a graduate in Hispanic Philology and has an interesting blog on the use of the tongue: take Care of that tongue! [↩]

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