RAE does not consider language use by Spanish authorities to be sexist and rejects note

by Lorraine Williamson

The Real Academica Española (RAE) in Madrid issued a statement rejecting the “Recommendations for non-sexist language in parliamentary administration.” The Spanish Congress unanimously approved the document on December 5. 

The document states that the generic masculine should be avoided because it is not inclusive. One of the recommendations is to use terms that do not show gender variation. For example: instead of ‘los funcionarios’, choose the more neutral ‘officials’ or ‘funcionariado’. And ‘el personal’ instead of ‘los empleados’.  ’El presidente becomes ‘la presidencia’. There are many more examples. The RAE rejects the proposal idea in a note. 

Criticism RAE 

 “We have argued before that the male gender is inclusive. Both in Spanish and in other many other languages. This is true in a wide range of contexts. In addition, we have also explained in detail that, when this is not the case, this should not lead to the absurd conclusion that language is never inclusive. The RAE has made it clear on numerous occasions that it believes that women and men should have the same rights and duties in democratic societies. We haven’t achieved that equality yet, we realise that.” In addition, the RAE do not see that arbitrary morphological, syntactic and lexical options will contribute to this. Not in Spanish, not in other Romance languages. 

Democratic society 

Next, the RAE points out that “societies in which languages are spoken that organise the morphological properties of gender in a different way” are not necessarily “more democratic than ours”. The RAE also criticises part of the guide’s subtext. It assumes that “the everyday language used by many of the millions of Spanish speakers around the world, including that of the Spanish parliamentarians themselves” is sexist. The document approved by Congress refers to parliamentary communication. The rules do not apply to “literary or argumentative” texts. 

Cogesa Expats

Two options according to RAE 

“On the one hand, it is conceivable that expressions of supposedly sexist language mysteriously cease to be so if they do not appear in official texts. But one option that’s even more concerning is to assume that Spanish speakers are allowed to express themselves in sexist language. Except when they represent the government or write public speeches. We suspect that behind this peculiar dilemma lies the implicit desire to increase the distance between the official and the real world,” the RAE states. 

Conclusion RAE 

In its conclusion, the RAE argues that language cannot be controlled from the political sphere. “The RAE states that many grammatical and lexical uses of Spanish by the authorities are not sexist. We will not achieve democratic equality between men and women by artificially forcing the grammar and lexicon of the Spanish language. What does help, however, are legislative measures that lead to equal rights, as well as improving the education that our young people receive at school. We need to work in many other ways to create a society that effectively reflects all these values.” 

Also read: Nearly half of Spanish men feel discriminated against by gender equality

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