Spanish and Spanish: the Constitution is touched little | Culture

Plenary hall of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language. On video, the differences in the two oaths of compliance with the Constitution of Carmen Calvo. Photo: Samuel Sánchez | Video: EPV

The Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) approves the study on inclusive language in the Constitution. The commission that Carmen Calvo made to the linguistic institution a year and a half ago has been debated over four plenary sessions and its conclusions, together with the report, have been available to the first vice president of the Government since yesterday. They don't just move the position that was reflected in the Forest Report eight years ago. This defended the predominance of the masculine as a generic use. But now they include some exception: for example, to unfold Spanish and Spanish or, as EL PAÍS, king and queen already reported, with an eye on the next succession to the throne, which will fall on Princess Leonor.

Who has seemed to assume the position of the SAR in this new stage has been Carmen Calvo. If it was she who initially opened the debate with the oath of office in the first Government of Sanchez, her attitude has changed in this new term. Upon promising her position in 2018, the vice president unfolded the council of ministers and ministers on the first occasion, but last Monday, in her inauguration with King Felipe and his fellow Cabinet members, he limited himself to the use of the masculine.

The order a year and a half ago was received as a hot potato in the SAR. The then director, Darío Villanueva, received him as soon as he began the previous legislature and immediately transferred him to the members of the Academy. Gender debates have taken place over the last decade among its members with heated discussions, sometimes. These issues are feared, but, by force of intense debate, they have reached a consensus. The conclusions of the report give good proof of this.

On July 10, 2018, Calvo announced in the Congress of Deputies that he had requested the report from the Royal Academy to study, he said, “the adaptation of the Spanish Constitution to an inclusive, correct, true and reality-consistent language of a democracy that transits between men and women ”. Then the vice president came forward to the event itself. Because the order arrived by letter to the RAE weeks later. In the already official petition, Calvo specified that gender issues and issues of inclusive language were one of the priorities of the previous Government and, no doubt, also of the current one.

Darío Villanueva appointed a four-member joint commission, formed by academics Paz Battaner, Inés Fernández-Ordóñez, Pedro Álvarez de Miranda and Ignacio Bosque. These concluded their work in autumn 2019 and submitted it to the plenary. Everyone agrees not to make draft modifications and, above all, that there was no need to undertake them urgently.

Valid criteria

They defend as valid the criteria that appear in the report Sexist language and visibility of women, work by Bosque and signed by all the academic academics in March 2012. This document has served as a basis for the revision of the constitutional text, as well as the comparative exercise of other norms of similar rank in force in Europe and America.

The RAE argues that the current wording remains valid and is understood as promulgated in 1978. The criterion of clarity has prevailed overwhelmingly. The changes, according to several jurists and most academics, could lead to confusion. But, even so, they recommend unfolding words like Spanish and Spanish or king and queen. That will be done only when a reform of the text is undertaken for another reason.

The debates have served to punctuate some procedures. The SAR does not seek to influence an urgent constitutional change. It is not their role, say several members of the institution consulted. Therefore, to avoid flashy headlines, they recommend that such changes be introduced when there is a normative review - not linguistic - of other articles. They insist that there is no hurry because the text is perfectly understood. But the criterion of the change or not, of its use or not, corresponds to the one who has commissioned it, that is, to the Government.

Once Calvo has officially received the report, it will be presented on Monday at the headquarters of the institution in Madrid. This will end an episode that, from the SAR, they hope will be conclusive in this chapter. "Political battles are not a reason to force the language, it addresses other laws and the use that speakers end up giving it," says an academic.


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