The Spanish language has supported gender binary with the use of ‘a’ or ‘o’ to attribute femininity and masculinity, but with the introduction of letter ‘x’ it’s causing controversy.
In September, the word “Latinx” was added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. With a newly added word come questions. The word Latinx is used to replace the usage of Latino or Latina; it is gender-binary for those who do not wish to identify with the gender binary.
“For us, whether a dictionary or somebody recognizes it, we still exist,” Justin Carnero, second year MBA student, said. “For me, it’s finally getting acknowledged and sharing the word with other people as well.”
However, many have raised questions about the letter x. For Kathleen Doty, Ph.D., a linguistics professor at HSU, it makes more sense than might be obvious.
“In algebra, x stands for an unknown figure or a variable. I do not know if the individuals who create words using ‘x’ as a replacement know this, but it is apt in some way,” Doty said. “Also, the use of ‘Mx.’ instead of ‘Ms.’ for females pre-dates ‘Latinx’ so that too could be a factor in its adoption.”
According to Doty, the word Latinx is mostly seen in social media and highly used in the United States. Unlike in the Spanish language, English does not have a grammatical gender. Although this word aims to be inclusive of those who reject the gender binary, people in Latin America do not necessarily agree with the word.
Carnero says that the addition of the word is “finally acknowledging that Latinx is a real term and the people that it represents are real and they are valid.”