Tuesday, September 21

Soldier, Cabin and Sergeant; do not generate it | Opinion

Cover of the EL PAÍS style book, edition 2021.
Cover of the EL PAÍS style book, edition 2021.

The fight against discrimination against women includes continuous advances in the use of language. Sometimes, as is known, with controversy. The Book of style of the country he adds some of those advances in each edition. The twenty-third, in force since February 21, includes new norms against sexist violence and sexism, as well as the feminization of job names. For example, “welded”. The Book defines the word as “correct female soldier.” There are readers who do not assume it. The dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE), either.

The controversy jumped on the 12th due to a news item with “the soldier” Cristina as the protagonist. Álvaro Miranda Simavilla protested: “I feel fed up with the misuse of the language – the tacky misuse of the genre – when referring to ‘la soldada’. The reader recalled that the RAE only admits the term “the soldier” and that “welded” is, for the Academy, the “asset of the soldier”.

Another reader, who prefers not to be cited once more in this column, wrote: “It seems that the Book of style allows or requires a soldier to be welded; had she been the corporal, would she have been obliged to write Caba? ” Well, to your surprise and that of many others, the answer is yes. The XXIII edition of Book of style It requires writing “cab”. And “sergenta”. And “captain”, who until now assumed in all contexts except the military.

Other readers also censor these stylistic licenses with the same argument: that the RAE does not admit them. Perhaps they prefer to look for other reasons if they discover that the Academy accepts the feminine of military degrees but with these meanings: “Generala: general’s wife”; “Colonel: wife of the colonel”; and “sergenta: sergeant’s wife”…. but also, attention !: “Stout woman, manly and of hard condition”, and “authoritarian woman.”

EL PAÍS now assumes in its entirety the general rule according to which “positions, trades, professions and titles shall observe strict gender concordance with their holders.” It is easy to do it if the job or position ends in or: engineer, engineer; deputy, deputy. The rule is complicated if it ends in a consonant, unless it is a not an r: captain, captain; doctor. And it is unfeasible if it ends in -ista, and that is why it is not allowed journalist O electricist.

In any case, it should be remembered that it is the Book of style of this newspaper, not a code of conduct for all Spanish speakers. It almost always coincides with the official Spanish dictionaries, but not in all cases. And, sometimes, it is the RAE that comes forward. Until this XXIII edition, EL PAÍS has not assumed the words “judge” or “councilor” —they become mandatory—, admitted as optional by the Academy years ago, not without reasoned answers.

Álex Grijelmo, Deputy Director of Edition and coordinator of the Book of style, underlines that it is about that, of “a style manual”. “We opt for some features that define us and not for others, within the possibilities offered by the language system.” This is how he explains the acceptance of soldada: “There is no reason for the military field to be left out of the progressive feminization of positions that is advancing throughout society. And the contexts disambiguate soldered in their two meanings in the same way that they do with a fruit bowl or a cashier. We could say without problem ‘the fruit seller took the fruit bowl’, ‘the cashier put money in the cashier’ and ‘the soldier collected her soldier ”.

Setting those kinds of rules often arouses passions inside and outside the newsroom. The debate is as intense as it is endless. It is enough to check these days the gibberish that Minister Irene Montero has provoked with that supposedly inclusive language of the “Heard, heard, listen or “sons, daughters, shadow”. The Book of style does not admit it.

Grijelmo recalls in his book Proposal for an agreement on inclusive language that the Mexican academic Gonzalo Celorio thus jokes about how to turn the phrase “the dog is man’s best friend” into inclusive language. There it goes: “The dog and the bitch are the best friend and the best friend of man and woman, indistinct, respectively or exclusively.” I advise you not to try it with friend, friend and friend.

Language is open to permanent change and, therefore, everything is debatable. However, in the newspaper there is a truce after cada new edition of Book of style. An initial note decrees that ceasefire: “The Style Book of EL PAÍS contains mandatory standards for all positions of the newspaper, editors and collaborators. No one will be exempt from this regulation ”.

Amen… until the twenty-fourth edition.


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