GENDER IN LANGUAGE PROJECT


GLOBAL SPANISH




SPEAKERS: 542,894,510



Spanish is a masculine-feminine gender language and the fourth-most spoken language in the world. All nouns (including those describing people) must be masculine or feminine grammatically and there are very few ways to avoid gendering people in speech.


Across Latin America, Spain, and the United States, nonbinary and other queer speakers have popularized many gender-inclusive Spanish terms, including latinx and the pronoun elle 'they [SG.]'. These words are representative of the inclusive grammatical genders (-x, -e) which characterize gender-inclusive Spanish.


While there are differing opinions on what certain gender-inclusive forms signify, they have been created so that nonbinary people have adequate language to self-identify. They have also been proposed to solve the issue of gender-neutrality. Globally, the most popular gender-inclusive Spanish forms are:



GENDER-INCLUSIVE PERSONAL PRONOUNS

INCLUSIVE GRAMMATICAL GENDERS

elle

'they [SG.]'

nosotres

'we'

elles

'they [PL.]'

vosotres

'you all'

-x

-e

Ellx es unx médicx talentosx.

'They are a talented doctor.'

Elle es une médique talentose.

'They are a talented doctor.'



Gender-inclusive Spanish is characterized by the use of inclusive grammatical genders in place of masculine and feminine genders when referring to people. These inclusive genders may be identified as the -x gender, the -e gender, etc., and each has their own canonical third-person personal pronoun (ellx, elle). These innovations are used by many Spanish speakers who self-identify as nonbinary or gender non-conforming, but they can also be utilized when referring to mixed groups of people, when one's gender is unknown, or for general or unspecific personal reference.


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While many people think that the -x can neither be pronounced nor be a valid gender-inclusive morpheme because it is not a vowel, there are many attestations of its pronunciation as [eks] (as in the Spanish prefix extra) by speakers around the world. Other gender-inclusive morphemes are vowels corresponding with their expected pronunciations in the language (i.e. the -e gender is pronounced [e], the -i gender is pronounced [i]). Other innovations which are pictographic (e.g. -*) currently lack attested pronunciations, though is often overlap between inclusive forms and their phonology, as in the case of -x pronounced as [e].


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by JESUS DUARTE, JULIE DURAN, CHANDLER FLIEGE & BEN PAPADOPOULOS

This grammar identifies all sites of gendered personal reference in Spanish (i.e. everywhere that linguistic gender aligns with the social gender of who is being referred to). We display the prescriptive masculine and feminine forms as well as forms in several inclusive linguistic genders (e.g. -x gender, -e gender), which you may see by clicking on the drop-down menu. It does not identify the sites of Spanish grammar that do not have gendered personal references, like the entire verbal system. Sections in gray represent "gray areas" which lack consensus about whether or not they should be transformed. Attestations of these genders are listed in References below.


ABBREVIATIONS

[M.]

MASCULINE

[F.]

FEMININE

[I.]

INCLUSIVE

[SG.]

SINGULAR

[PL.]

PLURAL


PERSONAL PRONOUNS

yo

tú, Ud.

él, ella

nosotros, nosotras

vosotros, vosotras, Uds.

ellos, ellas

In the Spanish personal pronoun system, four out of the six possible person and number combinations have masculine-feminine gendered distinctions prescriptively. While speakers may avoid gendering others by using their name, omitting a pronoun, or referring to them indirectly (e.g. Jaime es una persona simpática. 'Jaime is a kind person.'), gendered distinctions permeate the language. For this reason, speakers have invented inclusive personal pronouns.



CANONICAL -O / -A NOUNS WHICH REFER TO PEOPLE

These paired nouns have different masculine and feminine forms which differ only by canonical gender morpheme (-o [M.], -a [F.]). This morpheme is replaced by an inclusive morpheme, though orthographic changes may be necessary with certain vocalic morphemes (e.g. amigo amigue).



NONCANONICAL NOUNS WHICH REFER TO PEOPLE

These paired nouns have different masculine and feminine forms which have noncanonical morphology (e.g. -e [M.], -a [F.]) or which differ by the presence or absence of a gender morpheme (-ø [M.], -a [F.]) In the latter case, inclusive forms will feature a morpheme so that the inclusive form is not the same as the masculine.


CITE THIS PAGE

APA 7

Papadopoulos, B., Duarte, J., Duran, J., & Fliege, C. (2021). Global Spanish. Gender in Language Project. www.genderinlanguage.com/spanish/