This is a long-debated discussion, especially among some feminist groups engaged in the very important fight for women’s rights in a variety of fields. However, sometimes the initiative goes even further, and we find that they have proposed several modifications to Spanish so that it stops being a “sexist” language, based on the premise that that which is not named does not exist.
Some of the proposals include:
-Replacing the “a” or “o” of those nouns or adjectives that change with gender to an “x” or the “@” symbol. In areas like social networking, its use, while potentially bothersome, does not create major problems. But, can we publish a book using these innovations? As translators, can we give a client a document with such “revolutionary” spellings? Another option proposed is to use the letter “e” to convert all gender-variable words into invariable words. In this way, we could create sentences such as “Todes les niñes de esta escuela son buenes e inteligentes.”
-Using “collective nouns.” In this way we could avoid, among other things, the use of words referring to professions. This means that if we are talking about a group of profesores, to include the profesoras we should use the noun profesorado: a word that is not only heavy and impractical, but also has the inconvenience of being masculine!
-Replacing constructions as el afectado with la persona afectada, for example. If there is anything that characterizes Spanish, it is the large amount of words it uses. This is not to say that in some cases we not to use periphrasis such as this, but using them as a rule would mean that texts would be even more extensive.
-Using bars to include the options, as in the case of el afiliado/a. While this structure is used, especially in legal documents, its use in narrative prose and informal texts would make it more difficult to read. In addition, visually speaking, the bars, or parenthesis, create certain undesirable breaks in the flow of a text.
-Leaning towards greater splitting of words, e.g. alumnos y alumnas or niños y niñas. Again, we are adding so many words in the sentence, and it is so redundant, that it has a certain degree of humor.
So, is Spanish a sexist language? Or rather, do all languages that have more than one gender, which include those coming from Latin, discriminate against women? Or in reality—despite the fact that, as Orwell said, language conditions thought—are we are going too far? If the changes to be implemented are so radical, it would be more practical to invent an artificial language. If we analyze the structure of all languages of the world in depth from their origins, we find that the semantics of many words are rooted in concepts that today we would consider quite barbaric, but alas, we do not discard them. Just as societies have evolved, so too have languages; maybe not so much in terms of their form, but rather in terms of what they represent. We know that male gender in languages (which has nothing to do with the male sex) is used to give general ideas. If a change is needed, it will surely come naturally rather than as a result of its imposition.