Surprising statement by the director of the RAE on inclusive language

For a few days, the use of inclusive language is at the center of the political scene. First was the decision of the head of government of the City, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, to prevent teachers from using it. Later, from Tecnópolis, the governor of the province of Buenos Aires, Axel Kicillof, replied: “Today, so long after the May Revolution, they are not going to explain to us from Spain what words we use. We don’t like to ban.”

President Alberto Fernández also got into the controversy when he used inclusive language in an act at the Casa Rosada: “It is not a language problem, it is so that everyone feels challenged. Everyone feels challenged.” If, as these examples show, this issue that is “apparently” linguistic is installed in the middle of the political debate, it is because it is not so linguistic.

I also read: Buenos Aires teachers cannot use inclusive language, what are the boys going to do?

Nothing more timely in this context than listening the word of the director of the Royal Spanish Academy. The possibility materialized with his visit to Latin America. Santiago Muñoz Machado took advantage of his visit to the Language Academies of Uruguay and Chile to refer to this topic on which The institution speaks quite often in its virtual consultation box.

During this time, the RAE maintained a fairly hermetic position. They explain that the “e” is not part of the Spanish morphology, and that the grammatical masculine already fulfills the function of being a generic. They also consider that a grammatical change it is never produced by the imposition of any group of speakers.

The language is a resonance box for what happens outside of it.

However, this opinion, which seems so firm, was not exactly expressed in this way by the director of the institution these days. In a report with the Chilean newspaper Timewhen asked about the inclusive language, said: “The RAE is not the only one that can regulate this, of course. It is the citizens, by using the language, who establish the rules. The RAE always goes a little behind the citizenship. What the RAE can say is that a formula like ‘les niñes’ is not in general use, it is not part of the grammar nor is that way of speaking orthodox and probably in many places they will not understand it. It is rather a political manifestation, an expression that has no practical reality”.

I also read: After Larreta’s decision, they presented a project to ban inclusive language in PBA

On the future of the “e” Muñoz ventured: “It is society, they are the speakers who decide how their language evolves. They will also decide with inclusive language. The language always changes very slowly”.

inclusive language

The term “society” is repeated in Muñoz’s statements and perhaps that is where the most important thing resides. Language before a set of rules is a social science. It replicates the changes that are taking place in society. The rules or norms established by the RAE arise from the observation of the phenomena produced by the speakers. It is not an aceptic discipline, language is a sounding board for what happens outside of it.

As for how the Academy is going to react to the future of this phenomenon, Muñoz was very clear and referred to how a group of speakers can freely dispose of the forms to try to impose them: “If there are groups that want to use it or they think preference for reasons of any kind, because they are very free to try to impose it. If someone wants to implant it, go ahead, and if he gets it, well we will congratulate him in the future and in that case we will have to change the norms of our rules to incorporate him”.