Madrid Gay pride (MADO) 2019 is here. Thousands of people and not only LGBTI+ (Lesbianas, Gays, Bisexuales, Transgénero, Intersexuales and much more) will attend the events in Madrid, from the 28th of June to the 7th of July. Every year, music festivals, mass demonstrations, colorful parades and other celebrations will give visibility to the recognition of their rights.

It’s been a year since Manuela Carmena, the former Mayor of the city, gave a speech where she defended the use of the ‘third linguistic gender. But what’s really that? What did she actually mean? Has it become real? Let’s find out.

What did Carmena say in 2018?

Last year, the Mayor of Madrid took Gay Pride very seriously. During the demonstration of Madrid Gay Pride 2018, she took the microphone and adressed the demonstrators. Besides the recognition for gay’s rights, she mentioned a linguistic topic that goes beyond a single language: the inclusive language.

Queridos, queridas, querides. Ya no valen la ‘a’ o la ‘o’(…) Hay que escuchar y colaborar con ellos, ellas y elles.” – Manuela Carmena (former Mayor of Madrid).

She meant that it’s not enough to use the traditional gender morphemes in Spanish (‘o’ and ‘a’) but we need to assign another one that might be fit for these groups needs. These mention reopened the controversial idea about the sexism of the Spanish language.

How can Gay Pride change the gender system in Spanish?

There are many suggestions for this matter. However, none of them has been taken into consideration by any public institution, except for some politicians on a personal basis. La Real Academia Española claims that the Spanish language already has the tools to express gender and it’s not necessary to invent new morphemes. On the other hand, groups in defense of feminism, diversity and Gay Pride communities propose these options:

  • The use of an ‘e’ morpheme that may include all non-binary people. For example: niño, niña and niñe. It’s the option that Carmena chose. The main objection is the lack of this ending in the history of our language. It would be an unnatural solution.
  • Using la arroba (‘@’) as an ending: bueno, buena, buen@. The biggest problem is the pronuntiation. The idea of a symbol that mixes both letters is brilliant, but how can we pronounce ‘@’? As a open ‘o’? As a closed ‘a’?
  • The unknown ‘x’. The option of using the ‘x’ as a morpheme is widespread in the writing language: alto, alta, altx. However, we have the same problem again: the pronuntiation. It’s almost impossible to pronounce the letter ‘x’ at the end of the word.

In our opinion, the most reasonable answer is, in case the majority of speakers come to the conclusion that we need a new morpheme of gender, the most likely option that can triumph is the morpheme ‘e’.

What are the odds of Gay Pride changing the language?

This is a difficult question. As a linguist, I am tempted to say ‘ninguna opción’ (no odds). However, if we look fifty years back, since the Stonewall Inn riots, Gay Pride has grown year-over-year. We can say they have changed the rules of our world, literally. Why not the language’ ones?

 

It is true that morphological changes are very slow in a natural language. However, nowadays, using new technologies and social networks, the new information is known by all the speakers in a matter of seconds, whereas in ancient times it might have taken years.

From our point of view, it’s difficult to see significant changes in the upcoming years, but thanks to the Internet, this process might be accelerated, and new generations may speak a more inclusive language.

In conclusion, institutions or politicians can’t change or block the evolution of a language. Only the community of speakers, and Gay Pride community is huge, can do it. From Spanishviaskype blog we’ll keep you up-to-date about the news and the future of Spanish. If you want to learn Spanish via Skype, don’t hesitate and reserve a free trial lesson here.