Language is political

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9
Posts161Likes46Joined19/9/2019LocationSão Paulo / BR
Native
Portuguese
Learning English, French, Italian, Spanish

Lately there has been a heated argument about gender in Portuguese. In my language we choose the masculine voice to address groups or to mean neutral voice, for example, if we need to say "everybody in this room", we'd pick "todos" instead of "todas" ("everybody" has a masculine and a feminine options). Now there are people using an invented word: "todes" or "todx"... The main argument is that language is alive and constantly changing. Although I agree on this statement, I'd say it doesn't change by decree. Is there anything similar hapenning in your own languages?

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#1
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5
Posts5Likes7Joined4/2/2020LocationCN
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English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin, Chinese - Cantonese

Cantonese neatly avoids the pronoun issue by using 佢 (keoi5) for he, she and it. 

Mandarin uses different characters but all are pronounced ta1. 

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#2
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Posts161Likes46Joined19/9/2019LocationSão Paulo / BR
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Portuguese
Learning English, French, Italian, Spanish

Tyler.Huff wrote:
Cantonese neatly avoids the pronoun issue by using 佢 (keoi5) for he, she and it.
Mandarin uses different characters but all are pronounced ta1.
Hey Tyler! But is it something new in the language?

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#3
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Posts5Likes7Joined4/2/2020LocationCN
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English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin, Chinese - Cantonese

Nope, always been that way. 

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#4
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Posts12Likes6Joined1/6/2020LocationLondon / GB
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Chechen, English, French, Russian
Learning Arabic - Standard, German

Hey Valeria,


This is a really interesting topic I think. 


As I was starting to learn English in a serious way, ten years ago now, I noticed how people online gradually started saying "she" about a hypothetical person instead of "he", and then, more recently, how it started shifting to "they". Similarly, in French, the écriture inclusive is something that became quite prevalent recently: instead of writing les amis/les amies, you can write les ami-e-s. In Spanish, you can write lxs amigxs instead of los amigos/las amigas


These are all examples of gender-neutral language [0], which is itself a subset of inclusive language [1]. The wiki pages in English and Portuguese about this are very poor compared to the ones in French or in German, for example, but they're informative nonetheless. And yes, it seems to be a new development, insofar as it's becoming socially accepted, and even expected in some circles, and is becoming the norm in official communication. 


[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-neutral_language

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inclusive_language

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#5
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Posts1195Likes768Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
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English
Learning Tagalog
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Thai

Yes, it's happening in the US too.

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

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#6
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Posts161Likes46Joined19/9/2019LocationSão Paulo / BR
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Portuguese
Learning English, French, Italian, Spanish

Soup wrote:
Hey Valeria,
This is a really interesting topic I think.
As I was starting to learn English in a serious way, ten years ago now, I noticed how people online gradually started saying "she" about a hypothetical person instead of "he", and then, more recently, how it started shifting to "they". Similarly, in French, the écriture inclusive is something that became quite prevalent recently: instead of writing les amis/les amies, you can write les ami-e-s. In Spanish, you can write lxs amigxs instead of los amigos/las amigas.
These are all examples of gender-neutral language [0], which is itself a subset of inclusive language [1]. The wiki pages in English and Portuguese about this are very poor compared to the ones in French or in German, for example, but they're informative nonetheless. And yes, it seems to be a new development, insofar as it's becoming socially accepted, and even expected in some circles, and is becoming the norm in official communication.
[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-neutral_language
[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inclusive_language
Thanks for you comment! I had no information at all about this topic around the world. It was very surprising when you said that it's becoming the norm in official communication, because in Brasil it's connected to young university people and LGBTQ+ and feminist circles. With the political polarization of recent years, there's a dispute among left parties too, the most traditional ones arguing it's foolishness as long as we have "more serious and urgent issues" to turn to. 

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