Culture

Latino-ness Not Measured By This One Thing According To Study

According to 71 percent of Latinos polled by the Pew Research Center, you don’t have to speak Spanish to be considered Latino. Hooray! (And duh.) However, that leaves 28 percent of Latinos who think you’re not Latino if you don’t speak Spanish.

“Among Hispanics, views on speaking Spanish and Hispanic identity differ,” Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic research at the Pew Research Center, wrote in a Pew blog. “Though majorities of all key subgroups say speaking Spanish isn’t necessary to be considered Hispanic.” Well, duh.

So, yes, views on whether or not you’re Latino if you speak or don’t speak Spanish differ. But, one thing that 95 percent of the people polled agree on is that it’s important for future generations to speak the language.

Spanish, nevertheless — even though usage differs — is still what unites the group: “About three-quarters of Latinos, no matter where they are from, speak Spanish at home,” Lopez said.

Tomato, tomate. Don’t let your language skills stop you from celebrating your Latinoness, we have more than just language in our beautiful Latino culture.

Read more about the Pew Research Center poll here.

READ: Spanish as We Know it May Change Forever, Here’s How

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More Than 100 New Emojis Are Dropping This Year, And Our Latinx Cultura Is Represented: Meet The Tamale And Piñata Emojis

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More Than 100 New Emojis Are Dropping This Year, And Our Latinx Cultura Is Represented: Meet The Tamale And Piñata Emojis

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This weekend was special for more than just the Super Bowl, it was Día de la Candelaria (aka. Candlemas). And I don’t know about you, but I stuffed my face with tamales—as is mandatory. Why is that important? Because this weekend, we also found out that more than 100 emojis will be available on Apple this year —and one of them is an actual tamale. Is it a rajas tamale? Or is it filled with mole? We’re not too sure, but what we are sure of, it that a tamale emoji is coming and we can’t wait!

Emoji is the fastest growing language in history. 

Five billion emojis are sent every day, just on Facebook Messenger. And they’re appearing in some places you wouldn’t expect. One court judge in England used a smiley face emoji   in a document to make it easy to explain the court’s decision to children —an actual fact. So it should come as no surprise, that emoji consortiums have formed to keep updating the language and including more and more elements to it.

Starting in the second half of 2020, users can insert a tamale Emoji into any conversation.

Whether you’re including it in a text conversation about making tamales during the holidays, or simply emphasizing your craving for one of the best Latinx dishes around, the option will be there before you know it.

Emojipedia confirmed the introduction of over 100 new emojis this year.

According to Emojipedia, the emoji reference website —yes, it’s a thing—this year we’re getting 117 recently approved new emojis. From a gender inclusive alternative to Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, named Mx. Claus, to a fondue, a bell pepper and a piñata emoji. 

That’s right, Latinos are getting another emoji that illustrates our culture.

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The Piñata emoji is coming in the shape of a Donkey—granted, it’s an old, clichéd reference, but hey, it’s iconic nonetheless. Get ready to dale dale dale because the paper maché burro will be available to add to your convos, this year. 

The Christmas icon is not the only gender-neutral addition, btw.

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The new emojis will also include a woman in a tuxedo, a man in a bride veil and a gender-neutral person feeding a baby. All of these emojis are also available in all skin tones.

As reported by Emojipedia, the officially approved Emoji Version 13.0 list was published last week by the Unicode Consortium

And it features 117 new emoji that will be arriving on devices like iPhone, iPad, and Mac later this year. Apple typically adds the new emoji with the next major operating system updates in the fall.

We’ll be getting a wide array of animals, household items and more foods in emoji form!

The list of new emojis also includes other foods like bubble tea and a flat bread, animals like a seal and a cockroach, and household items like a toothbrush.

The new emojis build on last year’s round of more inclusive icons. 

A hearing aid emoji, wheelchair emoji and seeing eye dog emoji were in 2019’s new batch. A gender-neutral couple and various combinations of people with different skin colors holding hands were also made available last year.

Back in February 2019, the Unicode Consortium unveiled 230 new emojis with a majority representing people with disabilities and their needs. 

They included hearing aids, prosthetic limbs and service dogs. It also included the option for interracial couples to mix and match skin tones.

New emojis are now added to the Unicode standard on an annual basis. 

These emojis are proposed by different companies like Google, Apple and Twitter, and finalized by the start of the year. This allows ample time for these platforms to include these in future updates.

The first emojis debuted in October 2010 

10 years ago, Unicode Consortium released 722 different designs, and the genre has come a long way since. In 2015, Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year was an emoji–the Face With Tears of Joy one. There’s also a World Emoji Day celebrated annually on July 17.

Language Learning App Duolingo Has Been Teaching Phrases Like ‘He has to be detained right now’ In Spanish

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Language Learning App Duolingo Has Been Teaching Phrases Like ‘He has to be detained right now’ In Spanish

Mitú / Unsplash

It seems like everyday we uncover stories of discrimination and racism towards communities of color. This week the story stems from the most unthinkable source. One of the world’s most popular language-learning apps, Duolingo, served up two very problematic sentences to a user. His girlfriend took to Twitter to let everyone know.

Needless to say that Twitter was not having it.

Two xenophobic statements popped up on a user’s language-learning app and this is why they’re hurtful.

The fact that sentences like: “Are they legal?” and “He has to be detained right now.” can appear on Duolingo has us floored. They may not be explicitly referring to immigration issues, but the choice of words used is loaded with anti-immigration rhetoric. The word “illegal” carries major stigma in a time of pervasive and systematic civil rights violations against immigrants in the United States. Not to mention the weight that a phrase like “He has to be detained right now” carries in a country where at least 2,654 migrant children – and perhaps thousands more – were taken from their parents and held in government custody while their parents were criminally prosecuted for crossing the border unlawfully.

Duolingo was quick to respond to the backlash on Twitter, arguing that the sentence “Are they legal?” did not refer to people but rather questioned the legality of objects namely “firearms.”

In Spanish, “ellos” refers to people, the sentence is clearly about humans.

However, as several Spanish-speaking users noted on the social platform, the structure of the sentence in Spanish, “¿Son ellos legales?”, leaves no room for doubt on whether or not it’s referring to things as opposed to people. If we go back to Spanish grammar 101, Duolingo should know that the use of the plural personal pronoun “ellos” (they) instead of the demonstratives: “eso/esas” or “aquello” (those or that), to point to things, like guns or drugs, make it clear that this sentence is questioning the legality of a human subject. In simpler words, in Spanish “ellos”: refers to people, “esos” to things.

As one twitter user pointed out, “the exercise is not only grammatically incorrect, it leaves it open to a dangerous interpretation.”

Duolingo crowdsources its content from volunteers, and no scarcely anybody moderates what makes it onto the app.

What’s more, it looks like Duolingo’s been slipping on their content for a while now. According to an article published last year on the apps crowdsourcing’s strategy; “The startup has built one of the world’s most popular language-learning apps while only hiring a handful of translators.” Each day the platform serves up millions of sentences, “almost all of them created by its 300 or so volunteers.”

According to Quartz, “more than half” of Duolingo’s employees work in engineering, while “just three people manage the volunteer community”. The app makes this system work by appointing “volunteer moderators”, who apply through the website to oversee content in each language. The company claims that volunteers “are vetted for language skills, and then trained on subjects from pedagogy to guidance dealing with gender, diversity, and cultural sensitivity issues.”

As recent stories of neglectful treatment of migrants, civil rights violations, discriminatory behavior and racial profiling, have become the norm in the media—result of an anti-immigration administration—it’s troubling that this intolerant rhetoric is now visible in apps that are meant for ‘educational’ purposes and that claim to have ‘guidance on diversity and cultural sensitivity issues’.

It’s no coincidence that ever since Donald Trump became President of the United States, there has been a spike in hate speech and crime—and the numbers only continue to climb. A survey of Mexicans recently deported from the United States found that the number of people who reported experiencing verbal abuse or physical assault during their time in the U.S. increased by 47% between 2016 and 2017.

Founder of Duolingo, Luis von Ahn, a Guatemalan immigrant himself, chimed in to the conversation on Twitter, commenting that the two statements “didn’t appear next to eachother” and “were taken out of context”. He assured users that the statements were removed from the app to “avoid confusion”.

If no one is policing the sentences that go up on Duolingo, are children safe to use the app?

But what context would ever make those two sentences necessary in an educational app? They are grammatically incorrect and hurtful. No human is ever illegal. The very object of hate speech is to deprive people of the assurance that society regards them as people of equal dignity. Why is this instance of ‘indirect’ hate speech so important? Precisely because the public conception of immigrants and communities of color, specifically Latinx communities, is constantly under fire, and further feeds into a climate of fear.

As one twitter user put it, it makes you think twice before letting your 8th grader use the app to learn a new language. If xenophobic statements like these can pop up at any time, with no real policing of incorrect, racist or straight-up inappropriate content, then what’s the point of Duolingo even having a ‘content policy’ at all? As a Guatemalan, von Ahn should do better.