June 3, 2023

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Why inclusive language causes so much rejection in conservative fields | Interview with feminist journalist and university professor Norma Lotto

“Society is the language worker,” says feminist journalist, university professor and author Norma Lodo. The tongue is not silent. Notes on language exclusion and inclusion, an essay in which he elaborates on a subject that generates unusual rejection in conservative and right-wing circles, was published by the publishers Sudestada and Malamadre. In an interview Page 12 He tells of the insults he receives every time he writes about the use of the law, and describes the role of the Royal Spanish Academy and its economic interests when it comes to managing and marking the limits of language. Also considers Inclusive language ban in Buenos Aires schools “It has an anti-educational and ostracizing effect.”

Lotus has long drawn a distinction between inclusive and genderless language. The first, he defines, aims at naming to give visibility to the various existences that humanity has; For example, people with disabilities, tribals, women and protestors. That is, inclusive language takes a much wider semantic field and encompasses multiple realities, struggles, and identities. On the other hand, she points out that non-gendered and non-binary inclusive language are communicative expressions, in contrast to gendered language that renders women and diversity invisible, subordinate, transgressive, and homogenizing. “Personally, I like to call it the language of recognition, because a lot of times words confirm implicit being, self-awareness,” he says.

She says she began studying inclusive and genderless language when she was preparing a thesis on the speeches of the French Revolution and realized that “equality, fraternity and liberty” did not include all men. He looked down on women. Also, she was disturbed by the struggle of some women to be citizens instead of being called “women”. Later, along this path, she received contributions from many feminist philosophers and linguists.

She is a teacher A Guide to Better Telling, Contributions to Improving Journalistic Narratives on Cases of Violence Against Women (SemLac and SemMéxico 2018).

–What is the most surprising thing about the research reflected in this article?

–There were many things that surprised me, for example: non-gender and non-binary inclusive language is irritating because it challenges the status quo. In turn, the dominant media, each time focusing on inclusive language, do so from treacherous regulatory frameworks that foster misinformation and confusion. But undoubtedly my biggest surprise was to discover that the RAE was not acting alone in managing the RAE language through institutional and economic alliances such as banks and telecommunications companies.

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–What do you mean?

–Through financial assistance, sponsorship, institutional alliances. For example: The Emergency Spanish Foundation (Fundeú) and BBVA are eternal partners. Even Microsoft and Fundeu. (N.de R.: Fundeú is the result of the agreement and equal participation in the constitution of Agencia EFE and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria).

–Why do you think what the Royal Spanish Academy says or fails to say about the uses of language still carries so much weight in Argentina as a monarchy, patriarchal, and colonial system?

–This is happening because we have created a misconception that there is an academy that teaches us to speak. Indeed, we speak as we please, society is the worker of language, but it has the administration to tell us what is right and what is not. That power of attorney belongs to the RAE and if you don’t honor that recommendation, you will be kicked out.

Q: What are the economic interests behind this battle to impose a dominant form of speech in Latin America?

–Pan-Hispanism explains this war precisely because it is an ideology of language expanded to uphold corporate and market interests. I usually follow the Spanish-American sociologist Jose del Valle, who tells how in the nineties the RAE consolidated a pan-Hispanic ideology as a goal. During those years, Spanish companies formed strategic alliances with Latin American businessmen and politicians, and in this context, the RAE established the central mission of creating an image of the Spanish language as “the fundamental and inseparable link of the pan-Hispanic community”. Jose del Valle once said that the RAE’s move was a work of diplomacy and intended to extend Spain’s soft power.

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–There are many interesting pearls in your article, such as the genderless language in the Poema del Mio Cid. How is the visibility of women in such symbolic discourse understood in this historical context?

In the Middle Ages, dual forms were used in some languages. But they didn’t do it with the intention of adding equals, but because the word was there and there were no problems using dual forms. Even when the Kingdom of Spain expelled the Jewish people from its territory, it said: “We have agreed to expel all Jews from our kingdoms, never to return to them or to them.” Over time, this custom was lost, and what is remarkable is that the usage used in that historical period was not denied, but it is now proposed as egalitarian language propositions.

–In the book you mention some of the reactions you’ve received for using gender-neutral language in your everyday life. What caught your attention the most?

–Every time I publish columns on this subject in digital newspapers, the reactions in the comments are merciless, they call me “Bolo”, “Illiterate”. I have to admit that many times they make me laugh, but I read them to understand the purpose of so much anger. One comment I received said: “Let’s see what the language says when it is pronounced.” I thought, what does he mean? Perhaps, the language is a police officer or will they send the power to calm me down? Is that the pronunciation of the tongue? But what caught my attention the most is that they have questioned a national media outlet that published an article I wrote and asked them not to publish me again, that they should apply for censorship.

–How do you judge the use of gender-neutral language in writing or in your speech?

–I have to say it’s not spontaneous, because I’m still rebuilding myself. In the case of writing, it is easier because it can be read and revised many times. However, it is problematic when using parity corrections in everyday oral communication because it requires more complex coding and takes more time. In this case I usually use both the feminine and expressions with e at the same time. I don’t use masculinity. When I arrive at a place I say: Hello to all of you.

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— Why do you think there is so much hostility from conservative sectors to using the “e” as an inclusive brand? What is actually being discussed?

The opposition to the use of –is based on the fact that it is a proposal that breaks a moral order based on the binary (male-female), that the world is different and that the best thing is that it is completely common that does not know Spanish grammar, that not only serves as a corrective standard but also supports a biological worldview.

What is happening in other countries?

— Countries like France have banned it. In some Brazilian cities it is banned in cultural programs, and in Uruguay the conservative sector is also attacking its use. As for how much people use to express themselves, it varies from country to country. There is a study at Fundeú 2020 with BBVA that focused on Twitter and says that in Argentina, Costa Rica, Panama, Paraguay and Peru, x is the most used as an inclusive gender symbol; In Puerto Rico and Uruguay, the vowel E; Everywhere else (Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, United States, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and Venezuela) @ wins.

Q: Do you think the Buenos Aires government ban on the city’s schools has had any effect?

–Resolution 2566/2022 ignores that non-gendered and non-binary languages ​​have at least four characteristics that contribute to inclusive pedagogy: they enable us to realize all the nuances of humanity; Attracts logical creativity; It encourages criticism of dominant ideologies and above all aims for recognition, because although self-concept begins in everyone, it is consolidated only when another recognizes you. Only if these four aspects are taken into account can it be said that the ban has an anti-educational and ostracizing effect.