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HomenewsWorldItalian Watchdog Rejects Gender-Neutral Symbols

Italian Watchdog Rejects Gender-Neutral Symbols

Athina Kontos reports on the shock of gender-neutral terms to the masculinity of Italy's legal system

The institutional language “guardian” of Italy has decided that the country’s court system should continue to use traditional language and avoid adopting the “novelty” of gender- neutral terms and symbols in official documents.  

Equal opportunities committee the Corte di Cassazione — the highest appeals body in Italy, asked The Accademia della Crusca to provide an official opinion on inclusive language to illustrate a national debate over gender issues and political correctness.

Beautiful young woman whispering a secret into her boyfriend's ear

Like many other Latin-based languages, nouns in Italian can use a feminine or masculine form, however the masculine form tends to take precedence with the use of plurals. 

Surrounded by controversy, some see this as an expression of a dominant patriarchy and support the introduction of gender-neutral noun endings — most importantly relevant to the LGBTQ+ community and those identifying as non-binary. Gender-neutral terms have previously included the ‘@’ sign, and more currently feature as asterisks or the phonetic term schwa — visually presented as an inverted e

Proving popular and easiest to define in terms of gender-neutrality, the schwa is easily recognizable as a sound and it has its own plural: the long schwa.

Removing an ending entirely has been proposed as another option. For example a letter to a man or a woman would no longer start with caro or cara (dear), but with the gender neutral car, which would also replace the plural cari

In response to the Corte di Cassazione, the Accademia della Crusca strongly rejected these changes for legal documents, arguing that they would be false and supported only by minority groups —”however well intentioned”.

In an opinion-based document first reported in the Corriere della Sera newspaper, the Academia said “Legal language is not the right place for minority innovative experiments” — adding the Italian masculine plural form remains “the best instrument” to collectively represent “all genders and orientations.” They also acknowledged a wider use of the feminine form for professional titles.

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