The Royal Spanish Academy Is Becoming More Inclusive As It Officially Adds Two New And Important Words To The Language

Our society is in constant flux and with it, so is the way we express ourselves. Our ways of communicating and the words we use to do so have changed as the world changes. Just think about words like ‘computer’ or FaceTime or ‘influencer’, these words would of meant nothing to our ancestors. But to us they’ve come to carry important meanings that help us communicate.

It’s a similar argument for words that attempt to make language and communication more inclusive. Words like ‘Latinx’ and ‘Latine’ have become more mainstream as more people decide to use them. Although they’ve also become highly controversial and the debate is still out on whether or not they’ll become widely accepted.

However, just because some people may decide not to use ‘Latinx’ or ‘elle’ doesn’t mean that people who prefer to use them shouldn’t be able to. That’s exactly why the Royal Spanish Academy – which oversees the development of the Spanish language – has added several new and more inclusive words it’s so called ‘Word Observatory.’

Spain’s Royal Spanish Academy – the body that oversees the Spanish language – is making some serious updates.

In recent years, both academics and activists alike have highlighted the importance of using inclusive and non-gendered language – which isn’t exactly easy to do with Spanish. It was under this ideal that the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) decided to address the use of new terms such as the pronoun “elle”.

Last week, the academy unveiled the new design of its website, which has a more visual interface. The site includes a section called “Word Observatory” where, for the first time, the use of “elle”, “transfobia” and other words is addressed.

According to the RAE, the pronoun “elle” is a resource created and promoted in certain areas to refer to those who may not identify with either of the two traditionally existing genres. Its use is neither generalized nor established.”

The issue of more inclusive Spanish was addressed earlier this year when th RAE ruled on the request of Carmen Calvo – Spain’s Vice President. Calvo had asked the institution to consider “an inclusive” update to the language, something to help gender non-conforming and non-binary people express themselves.

Calvo’s position was seen as intending to criticize the required use of the masculine gender when referring to a group of both genders. But now that request seems to have made a difference as the academy is examining alternatives to the male and female usage.

However, it’s encouraging to see the RAE include the words in its observatory – the word isn’t officially in the Spanish dictionary.

Although the RAE clarified that “the presence of a term in its ‘Word Observatory’ does not imply that the RAE accepts its use”, the word generated confusion among several Internet users who wondered if the regulatory institution was on the way to accept more inclusive language.

Through its website the RAE says that these words are not yet part of the dictionary, since the “information is provisional”, meaning that the use of these terms is not yet recognized by the institution nor are they accepted in academic works, but they are being studied and could be added in the future.

The academy also added several other commonly used words to the official dictionary.

Credit: Victor Blanco / Getty Images

Along with the words ‘elle’ and ‘transfobia’, the academy has also added several other commonly used words by Spanish-speakers. Words like ‘bot’, ‘porfa’, ‘videollamada’, ‘influencer’, ‘guglear’, ‘loguear’, ‘ciberataque’, and ‘cruzazulear’ have all been added to the institution’s Word Observatory meaning they could soon become part of the official language.

The Word Observatory “offers information on words (or meanings of words) and expressions that currently do not appear in the dictionary but that have raised doubts, including recent neologisms, foreign words, technicalities, regionalisms, etc., according to the RAE.

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