According to NPR, a group of academics, bloggers and activists are on a mission to make part of the Spanish language (the part that refers to people) gender neutral. I guess that they agree with me that Spanish is sexist, along with other Latin languages (and even English), by the way. Their solution is to add the character @, which seems to include both the letters “a” and “o” to the word “latin” when referring to individuals with Latin American roots, as in Latin@. I don’t know about you, but the @ sign either looks like a broken circle, a really pretty “o”, or an “a” with a really long, winding tail.
That, however, is beside the point. The University of Wisconsin has officially adopted this term for its Department of Latin@ and Chican@ Studies. Karma Chavez, a professor at the university, explains that the difficulty comes in pronouncing the new word. I’m not at all surprised since most people now know the @ character as “at.” In fact, I’m really surprised that people are not saying, “latinat” and “chicanat.”
But, no, Professor Chavez explains that “Most people end up just saying Chicano and Chicana,” which means that after all the hard work of the grammarists to have a gender-neutral noun, the majority of people are saying, “The Department of Latino and Latina and Chicano and Chicana Studies.”
Professor Chavez further explains that others prefer to make an “ow” sound like “cow,” which makes total sense since Wisconsin is the cheese state and cheese comes from milk which comes from cows.
In any case, all this seems a bit too complicated. In their laudable efforts to neutralize the Spanish language’s sexism, the “grammarists” have come up with a weird-looking word which no one knows how to pronounce and which is not at all Twitter-friendly (if you know what I mean). In other words, Spanish hell. Considering that after “a” and “o” there are still 3 vowels left (e, i, and u), maybe they should have given any one of them a shot before opting for @.
All this to say, Ay, Caramba! If we’re to believe that the @ rhymes with cow, then I’d say NOW is a good time to stop this nonsense.