More language fun – gender and Spanish nouns
Jess McCabe // 24 March 2008
The English language is not alone in having deeply ingrained problems with sexism.
The Unapologetic Mexican proposes a solution to the gendering of words in Spanish – use @ instead of a (for ‘feminine’ words) and o (for ‘masculine’ words). Notably, when a group of all female friends is present (to give the example used by Unapologetic Mexican below), they are “amigas”. If even one male friend joins the group, they are suddenly “amigos”.
You will see many words in the blog that are ended with an “@” symbol. Example: Chican@, vat@, Chicanism@. In Spanish, words have a gender. Not only that, but words will reflect the sex of the subject of a sentence, and this is apart from the word’s gender. This is signified by “a” or “o” in a word, such as “la gata,” or “el gato,” which mean (respectively) “The female cat,” and “the male cat.”
Because Chicanism@ involves the raising of consciousness, respect for oneself and for others (even females!) we make an effort not to sweep women under a male pronoun, as they have to live with normally, but to recognize them as equal players in this world, as they certainly are. To do this, we are lucky enough to already have a symbol on the keyboard that joins both the “a” and the “o” and makes sex-neutral/sex-inclusive words like “amig@,” to include both types of friends at once.
(Hap tip to Lisa for introducing me to this excellent blog)
Photo by Gonzavision, shared under a Creative Commons license