Inclusive Language in Spanish-Speaking Countries 

On Wednesday, October 20th, Fairmont State University held a Women and Gender Studies Colloquium about the use of inclusive language amongst Latinx speakers. The event was hosted by Dr. Laura Guglani, the Assistant Professor of Spanish at Fairmont State, and Madeline Puppos, a student at Fairmont State, and was a collaboration between the two as part of a Summer Research Fellowship. Their presentation was titled, “Latinx and Inclusive Language: Attitudes and Usage Amongst Native Speakers” and presented their research into different Latinx’s countries’ opinions on incorporating inclusive terms into the Spanish language.  

Inclusive language intends to avoid expressions that imply sexism, racism, or other prejudices to any group of people. In the English language, inclusive language is often incorporated through methods of asking for someone’s preferred pronouns, and referring to people with “they/them” pronouns instead of “he/him” or “she/her” unless specified otherwise. Inclusive language is not only specific to English, as many other languages have begun to use inclusive language. There has been a wave of this amongst Romance languages in particular, including Spanish, which is what Dr. Guglani and Puppos wanted to explore in their research.  

Their investigation was to look at attitudes towards inclusive language, which was done through a survey given to Spanish speakers from different countries, such as Peru and Mexico. They wanted to general attitudes towards inclusive language amongst Spanish speakers and see if any trends existed among certain countries that they could draw conclusions from.  

The goal of the survey was to see both the acceptability and adaptability of inclusive language to Latinx. Puppos explained the difference of the two terms as acceptability being whether they found inclusive terms tolerable and adaptability being whether they would use the terms. Overall, they found that more than half of the participants trended slightly negatively towards accepting and using the terms. It seemed as if about half were very for using inclusive terms, the other half very against using the terms, with some in the middle who couldn’t care less.  

One of the most popular reasons why Latinx were against using this language was that they had a lack of education and were not familiar with new terms. Not only is this lack of education a problem for people wanting to use inclusive language, but it also creates a problem for communicating with people around them in everyday life as others might not want to use or know the inclusive terms. Dr.Guglani gave an example of this situation, “A participant in our survey from Ecuador emailed us and expressed how she wanted to use inclusive language but was afraid people would think she was crazy and not know what she was talking about. Inclusive words have not been incorporated into everyday language in most Spanish-speaking countries.” 

There are still certain countries that are trailblazers in their use of inclusive language, such as Argentina, where the movement for inclusive language in Spanish began. Even though Argentina is considered a hotbed of inclusive language, the countries’ participants in the survey were still overall mixed in their opinion. The overall results of the survey of neutral to negative reactions show the full incorporation of inclusive language in Spanish is going to be a slow process. Dr. Gugliani explained, “We have the same problem in the U.S. about people not understanding certain terms, with this being typically in older, more conservative groups”. While implementation of inclusive terms may be slow, it is not impossible, as gender perceptions today are changing rapidly, and so gendered language may soon change, too.