Letters to the Editor SpecGram Vol CLIV, No 2 Contents Cartoon Theories of Linguistics—Part J—Feeding and Bleeding—Erin Taylor

Castilian Language Chastised, Portugal Says “We Told You So”

by Major Sharpe

In an unprecedented move, the European Union formed a new department last week called the European Linguistic Academy. The purpose of this new department is to scour the vocabularies of languages spoken within the EU’s borders and to eradicate words that may be considered politically incorrect. Its first move as a new regulatory body was to demand the banning of the word negro from the Castilian[1] language.

Needless to say, the members of the Real Academia Española were none too happy with this decision. Speculative Grammarian was fortunate enough to get an interview with a member of the Academia. Out of fear of retaliation from the ELA, our interviewee asked not to be named. We will call him José Miguel Serraro de las Andes y Martina Guérez.

“[The members of the Academia] just don’t understand it,” Guérez pled to our sympathetic interviewer. “We get to decide what usages stay in Castellano, not those guys. If we want to use negro for black, that’s our business! This is worse than the time someone proposed renaming cars vavavúmobilos.”

Indeed. It is much worse. According to the official statement from the ELA, “the term negro is considered to be bad taste in the United States, since the term black became the preferred, politically correct term in the mid-80s.” The statement goes on to say that Spain’s booming tourist economy may suffer if an American tourist hears a native utter this word. Furthermore, the EU fears getting sued by Americans whose sensibilities have been offended. What word does the ELA propose as an alternative to negro? They want Spain to take the route of the American PC police and recommend that the Academia “promote blacko as a viable alternative.” What happens if Spain does not comply? “The EU will do everything in its power to cut back Spaniards’ siestas to four hours.” In the words of Guérez, “¡No es posible!”

The Portuguese, who are always looking for a way to rile up their neighbors to the East, have been reputed to say, “We tried to convince the Spanish to change their racist language. As the old adage goes, ‘Spaniards are like a stubborn stain: You’re never sure where they come from, but you know they’ll never come out.’ ” Portugal also wanted to make it clear that their term for black is preto, and that the Portuguese language should be strongly considered for foreign language credit in American high schools.

[1] The ELA has informed Speculative Grammarian that the term Spanish is considered politically incorrect due to the fact that there are many languages which are native to Spain. The term Castilian should be used in this context. Or else.

Letters to the Editor
Cartoon Theories of Linguistics—Part J—Feeding and Bleeding—Erin Taylor
SpecGram Vol CLIV, No 2 Contents