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HomeLanguagesSpanishSpanish Genders Fluctuate in Argentina

Spanish Genders Fluctuate in Argentina


In Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, the local Education Ministry, headed by María Soledad Acuña, forbade the use of inclusive language in schools, claiming that it contributed to the poor performance of students and that the move would preserve traditional Spanish grammar. 

Previously, the leader of the Buenos Aires government, Horacio Larreta, had stated, “We want to simplify the way children learn,” instructing “teachers [in the public and private sectors to] respect the rules of Spanish, because children must master the language as it is.” His target was also inclusive language, which had introduced the grammatical innovation of the neutral gender using the letter e. Instead of using the cumbersome todos y todas (meaning “all men and all women”), more progressive circles are increasingly using the form todes, which is gender neutral. In writing, the letters a and o are sometimes replaced by the letter x or the @ sign, as in Latinx, or tod@s, to use the same example. This principle can apply to almost any noun or adjective referring to people.

In response to the announcement, the governor of Buenos Aires province, Axel Kicillof, suggested that the students should continue using inclusive language, with the support of the education workers’ union. “Denying language to trans and nonbinary children and adolescents constitutes an attack on the right to identity of each and every one, and to be in an environment in which diversity is respected,” said a union statement.

Kicillof called on young people to “rebel in respect of others” and defended the right of young people to “speak as they wish.” In response to a statement from Spain’s Real Academia Española (RAE) that criticized the use of gender-neutral Spanish, Kicillof scoffed that “from Spain, they’re going to tell us the words we can use!”

In a statement entitled “Language Is Part of the Construction of Rights,” the teachers’ union affirms that “nonbinary language is only a small part of the so-called ‘inclusive language,’ which also includes linguistic anti-ableism, anti-racist, and anti-colonial strategies, among many others.” 

The organization added that Buenos Aires pledges to be a city that welcomes LGBTQ+ people, as well as migrants, so the move would be contradictory. “As in any other process of cultural transformation, the debates must be present so that the hegemonic discourse, which is a powerful mode of oppression and reproduction of inequality, is questioned.”

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