November 05, 2019

By Gonzalo López Martí   - Creative director, etc./ lmmiami.com

  • I had been hearing and reading the “Latinx” neologism bandied about for quite a while.
  • It is possibly just a fad in certain “progressive” circles.
  • Next thing you know, politicians jump on the bandwagon.
  • Namely Elizabeth Warren, who seems to be in dire need of a serious team of Hispanic political strategists by her side.
  • Mind you, I fully support experimenting with language.
  • It is possibly the best way to keep a culture vibrant and lively.
  • Second only to bearing lots of children.
  • Espanglish?
  • I’m all for it.
  • I am an avid user of frowned-upon espanlgish.
  • Speaking espanglish on a daily basis t is akin to being an ambidextrous soccer player.
  • It is fascinating, powerful and liberating.
  • The worst thing we can do if we want to keep a language relevant is to fossilize it with stuck-up taboos or academic strictures.
  • I am all for keeping the RAE (Real Academia De La Lengua Española) funded, relevant and prestigious as a body of research and orientation for the 400+ million Spanish-speakers across the globe.
  • Then again, it would be foolish to pretend that the RAE has or should have any sort of enforcement power.
  • They are a consultative body of scholars whose opinion is important but they have no real authority.
  • At a risk of sounding overly alarmist, it is a matter of freedom of speech.
  • Freedom of speech means everybody is at liberty of expressing themselves as they please.
  • I cannot force you to speak in a certain way.
  • I can criticize the way you speak though.
  • And vice versa.
  • Now back to “Latinx”.
  • I agree: it is a bit cringy to read or hear a “Latino man”.
  • Let alone “a Latino woman”.
  • Nobody’s perfect.
  • The former is a pleonasm (y’know: wet water or hot heat).
  • The latter I wouldn’t blame on sexism though: it is just a misnomer product of monolingual ignorance.
  • Speaking of which, “Latinx” is an unnecessary affectation.
  • A solution to a problem that simply does not exist.
  • A verbal flourish concocted by someone with partial knowledge of the Spanish language and too much time on their hands.
  • If for any reason you don’t want to assign or be assigned a gender (latino or latina) you can always use “Latin” of “Hispanic”.
  • Short, sweet and gender neutral.
  • See, the letter x, both in Spanish and in English, implies anonymity, not gender neutrality.
  • By the way, the Spanish language is usually, and unfairly, accused of suffering from a lack of brevity.
  • People with limited command of Spanish claim it is difficult to be succinct when communicating in the language of Cervantes.
  • Simply not true.
  • The Spanish language can be powerfully concise through, among other advantages, its ability to convey the gender of most of its nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives.
  • For instance, let’s translate “soy oftalmólogo” or “soy oftalmóloga” into English: “I am a male oftalmologist” or “I am a female oftalmologist”.
  • Which language is more succinct?
  • See?
  • No need to go “Yo soy un oftalmólogo masculino”.
  • The great poets of the English language - Coleridge, Keats, Poe, Whitman- would’ve given the arm the wrote with to enjoy this liberty.
  • Why are we trying to stunt it?
  • Ignorance, that’s why.
  • Anyhoo.
  • Let’s not be foolish.
  • And let’s remember for the umpteenth time: there are more than 400 million native Spanish-speakers roaming this planet. Spanish trails only Chinese in the ranking of the most spoken global languages. English is a distant third. The Spanish language has a tremendous future in the “new world order” coming our way.

 

 

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