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There is no "X" in Spanish

The first time I heard “LatinX” used was a few years ago during a podcast from the Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center in Gurnee, Illinois. At that time I was working with their Development team to create some new podcast content, so I was catching up on previous podcasts. I had never heard this word, or phrase, or designation before, and I was confused.

Which says it all, I think. If it’s that confusing, should we even be using it?

Here’s what a quick Google search has to say:

“Latinx is a neologism in American English which is used to refer to people of Latin American cultural or ethnic identity in the United States. The gender-neutral ⟨-x⟩ suffix replaces the ⟨-o/-a⟩ ending of Latino and Latina that are typical of grammatical gender in Spanish. Its plural is Latinxs.”

This makes no sense whatsoever. There is no “X” in the Spanish language. So how can “X” be a gender neutral suffix in Spanish? If we are searching for a “neologism” (and how many people even know what THAT is?!?) that is Spanish gender-neutral, shouldn’t it make sense for Spanish speakers?

And by the way, if we’re going to make the entire Spanish language gender-neutral, we have a long climb ahead of us. As all Spanish speakers know, every noun in Spanish has a gender. “Table” is female – “la mesa.” Dog is masculine – “el perro.” I don’t speak enough Spanish to know what the word is for a female dog. Is there a Spanish word that means “bitch?” Is it gender neutral?

There is an obvious answer to my musings here. “LatinX” was coined by white people. Who don’t speak Spanish. Comprende?

And by the way, since I’m as fussy about grammar in Spanish as I am in English, I’m completely aware that there should be an upside-down question mark before the word “Comprende” in that last sentence. But right now, I’m too exhausted by all the neologisms to find the appropriate symbol on my keyboard.

Perhaps by the time this appears on my blog, “LatinX” will have died out of usage. I’m not exactly the most up-to-date person when it comes to language changes. After all, I’m only a 69-year-old white woman who studied three years of Spanish in high school and spent one summer attending classes and living with a Mexican family in Saltillo. I ask of Spanish the same things I ask of English – clarity and consistency. I’ve made my living as a professional writer, and I’m completely in line with the idea that language periodically has to grow and evolve to reflect cultural change. But it’s coming too fast for clarity, and it’s getting way too nutty for consistency.

Es bastante!


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