La lengua cambia así


Este video realizado por la Casa de la Cultura Afrouruguaya protagonizado por personalidades de la vida cultural, política y deportiva del Uruguay. El objetivo: reunir firmas a través de para enviar una carta solicitando a la Real Academia Española que elimine la expresión “Trabajar como un negro” de su diccionario. En el Uruguay la población afrodescendiente asciende al 10% y ha sido protagonista activa de la vida del país desde siempre. Sin embargo aún hoy en día continúan sucediéndose episodios de discriminación racial hacia los afrodescendientes. Uno de ellos es el ámbito de la inserción laboral, donde muchas veces a los afrouruguayos se los relega a roles y tareas de escasa remuneración y consideración social.

The petition to la Real Academia Española reads:

There are many expressions in our everyday language that could be considered discriminatory. One of those expressions, “to work like a black person,” appears in your dictionary.

This expression evokes an oppressive past that should never be repeated to any human being.

We ask that you revise the appearance of this expression in your dictionary. In return, we will promise to erase all discriminatory expressions from our plazas, playing fields, schools, and —above all— our homes.

This video has been spreading around the internet lately, and is another example of how people can affect positive change in their language and culture.




There was an interesting article on NPR recently about the genders of Spanish nouns and their adjectives.  When referring to a group of people that is otherwise entirely female but has one man, the word for that group would be masculine. In another instance of male preference, the phrase “good woman and boy” translate as “mujer y niño buenos,” using the masculine plural adjective even though it refers to both a male and female. Another interesting aspect is the existence of terms that are positive when referring to males, but not so much when referring to females. For example, aventurero (literally, “adventurer”) conjures to mind an image of a risk-taker or brave man. But the corresponding feminine term? Aventurera likely refers to someone whose “adventures” are more of the sexual sort. And what about the good old héroe and heroína connotations? Men are heroes, the female form is…an addictive narcotic. Of course the same is true in English, which is also a language with a definite masculine preference. (Spokesman, mailman, craftsmanship, chairman of the board- list goes on and on).

Karma Chavez, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, says that the push toward gender neutrality in Spanish has been going on for decades.

“As far as I know, this challenge to language occurred more or less to other feminist challenges to language in the United States,” Chavez says. The official name for the Hispanic studies program at the U of W is the Department of Latin@ and Chican@ Studies. The @ symbol has become an alternative to the o/a endings on the end of nouns and adjectives. Perhaps this solution is not the easiest to pronounce, (chican…at?) but it does offer an alternative to a previously gender biased norm.

On a personal note, I’m a member of a student organization at USC called Amig@s del Buen Samaritano. We recently changed our name from Amigos to be more inclusive and representative of our largely female membership.

Perhaps using @ as a gender neutral alternative is not the most efficient solution, and language gets convoluted when, in order to be grammatically correct and gender-aware, we have to add additional words such as his/her.

There are a handful of noun endings – the “e” as in “estudiante” – which do not indicate a gender by themselves. Their gender, instead, is indicated by the preceding article: el estudiante (the male student) and la estudiante (the female student).

So, in reality, any time a noun is listed with its article, it always is either masculine or feminine. In Spanish, nouns are quite often listed with an article (more often than in English).

In theory, one could use the “e”, which is gender neutral, in replacement of a gender-exclusive ending. In practice, the word would be “latine” (lah-TEE-nay) instead of latino/latina or “latin@” and the plural form would be “latines“. The issue is that the masculine and feminine articles would have to be modified to include a neutral singular and plural form, e.g. “le latine” and “les latines.” Of course, the larger issue is that we’re now rewriting an enormous amount of the underlying language and using word forms (les – 3rd person ind. obj.) that already exist as other words in the language. Perhaps the easiest answer lies in simply changing the gender form of the preceding article.

So what do you think? Language changes as a reflection of current culture, but how far are we willing to go in the name of gender equality? Are there any  other ways to facilitate a shift in language?

NPR: ‘Latin@’ Offers A Gender-Neutral Choice; But How to Pronounce It?

El diccionario académico de la medicina


“Todos los médicos y estudiantes de medicina del mundo recorren los caminos complejos del idioma de la medicina. Este lenguaje es dinámico, cambiante y gigantesco y es hablado en el mundo por las 56 millones de personas que según la OMS participan en los aspectos educativos, asistenciales e investigativos de las ciencias de la salud. En Latinoamérica son casi diez millones de personas y en Colombia aproximadamente 320.000.

Existen muchas falencias y equivocaciones en el manejo de la comunicación científica. Hay una verdadera torre de Babel en la interrelación entre todas las disciplinas de la salud y muchas veces se causa daño a los pacientes y a sus familiares por el manejo inadecuado de estos vocabularios profesionales.

En este diccionario académico todos los interesados podrán conocer, de manera didáctica, las características principales de la comunicación en medicina, lo cual les facilitará el aprendizaje y el ejercicio de esta noble ciencia.”

Copiado por  El diccionario académico de la medicina

Puedes believe it? Espanglish con un ‘E’


“The future of the Spanish language is not in Spain, it’s not in Mexico, it’s not in any Latin American country, it’s in the United States.”

Unos artículos interesantes sobre el español estadounidense y su sitio en la vida cotidiana y su aceptación en el diccionario de la Real Academia Española.  El espanglish es algo que encontramos cada día en los Estados Unidos, pero su posición como una lengua respetada constantemente es un tema de discusión.

Two interesting articles about United States spanglish and its place in everyday life and its acceptance in the Royal Spanish Academy. Spanglish is something we encounter everyday in the US, but its position as a respected language constantly is a topic of discussion.

El espanglish da pasos de gigante en la Real Academia– El Tiempo

Spanglish gets in el dictionary– NPR
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