Spanish Nominal Neo-morphemes: Representations of Language as Inclusive Space

Inclusive language is a social construct that has been gaining momentum in Spanish-speaking cultures in the last fifteen years. The implementation of inclusive language presents challenges for speakers of gender-marked languages such as Spanish. Some researchers and language activists have proposed different ways in which users of Spanish can mitigate gender bias. Several options, which do not involve morphological innovation, are currently being used that partially provide a solution so that speakers may avoid making any gender salient by virtue of either their visibility or invisibility. However, these solutions do not address the nuances of non-binary identity perspectives. The consideration of Spanish nominal neo-morphemes has been proposed as the most comprehensive means to turn the Spanish language into a more inclusive language. For a while, the proposed nominal neo-morphemes may have been regarded as an interesting exercise for specialists in historical linguistics theory. However, they are becoming tangible evidence of the dialectic of inclusion and exclusion that occurs outside the language, as these neo-morphemes are making their way into real-world instances of actual communication in Spanish. These neo-morphemes are challenging the nominal morphology that has been in place for the six centuries of existence of the Spanish language. The Spanish-speaking community of close to 500 million speakers, spanning 21 countries and five continents, ultimately will have to decide whether or not this morphological innovation will succeed. In this paper we will address: 1) the genesis of the Spanish neo-morphemes, 2) how the Spanish neo-morphemes embody a social desire to change the Spanish language as a space that should reflect gender in all its nuances, 3) factors that may hinder the prospects of the nominal Spanish neo-morphemes and 4) factors that may aid the generalization of the nominal Spanish neo-morphemes.

Author: Concepcion Godev