In the book Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, language was used as a method of thought control by the Oceania government, the book’s fictional totalitarian regime. Newspeak, the national language of Oceania, was based on censorship. Although it was a fictitious novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a powerful and surprisingly accurate display of the influence of language on culture and thought processes. The book is also an honest representation of what individuals would do to censor anything with which they disagree. Today, it seems that some liberals wish to implement a form of Newspeak for the Spanish language.
According to behavioral scientists from Palomar College in California, language has an impact on culture and thought processes. While it is true that language influences an individual’s personality, some on the left are misconstruing these findings to advance their personal agendas.
According to BBC News, some scholars and activists on the far-left believe that the Spanish language has led to a culture of sexism and machismo in Latin American nations. For example, “los niños” uses the masculine pronoun “los” to refer to either multiple boys or a group of children of all genders, whereas “las niñas” uses the feminine pronoun “las” to refer only to a group of girls. As noted by BBC News, using “los niños” to refer to a group of boys and girls is oppressive and teaches females to view themselves as lesser in society. It is quite offensive and substantially incorrect to believe that Latin women view themselves so lowly. As usual, the left gets it wrong on the issue of gender.
The assignment of masculine or feminine pronouns to words in Spanish does not always correspond to the definition of the term but rather to the sounds of the words, as found by researchers from Indiana and Purdue Universities. For example, Spanish typically assigns a feminine pronoun to words ending in “a” and a masculine pronoun to words ending in “e.” Even inanimate objects are assigned genders in the Spanish language and other Romance languages. The assignment of genders to objects is not an indication of viewing the objects as masculine or feminine in nature.
Many on the left are unaware or willfully ignorant about issues for which they are “fighting,” as the truth often compromises their values. Further misunderstanding of the Spanish language was displayed last March during the 2017 Billboard Latin Music Conference. Co-founder of the Women’s March Carmen Perez presented at the conference where she received praise for her work in pushing for the censorship of masculine and feminine pronouns in the Spanish language, a feat she has been attempting for years. Instead, Ms. Perez wishes to use gender-neutral terms and refer to Latin Americans as Latinx (pronounced “Latin-ex”). Ms. Perez feels that referring to Latin Americans as Latinos is offensive as the term is linguistically masculine and thus sexist.
Ms. Perez also believes the gender-neutral term Latinx should be used since not everyone adheres to gender binary definitions. By replacing gendered words with gender-neutral terms like Latinx, a system of Newspeak for the Spanish language will occur.
Spanish is not a sexist language. Although languages have been found to influence thought processes and culture, the Spanish language does not encourage linguistic oppression of Latin women. By claiming that the ways in which masculine and feminine pronouns are used in the Spanish language are sexist and encourage female oppression shows a misunderstanding from liberals on linguistics and culture. The left claims to champion cultural diversity, but it seems that cultural diversity is only valued to the left when convenient.