26 February 09

Delighting in a New Vowel

Hanging around the hispanohablantes on Ravelry has introduced me to the gender-unspecific vowel that is apparently now being widely used in Spanish texting: @.

Spanish, like many Romance languages, has an obligatory masculine/feminine divide in nouns. Sometimes the endings are unintuitive (la mano [the hand], el drama [drama]) but mostly “a” is feminine, “o” is masculine. This being a culture where historically the masculine incorporated everyone, in the 60s if you said “hola a todos” it was assumed you meant hello world, or hello everyone, masculine feminine and neuter.

I’m delighted to see new spanish-speaking knitters chime in on Ravelry with the “hola a tod@s,” the ‘o’ encompassing the ‘a’ as a perfect, ambi vowel. It’s particularly heartening because in fact not all spanish-speaking knitters are female, nor are all of them straight, and I love the inclusiveness that’s implied…

Posted by at 09:41 PM in Books and Language | Link |
  1. Wow. I didn’t know that. That’s excellent.

    Jean    27. February 2009, 05:53    Link
  2. whoa, very cool!

    fustian    27. February 2009, 08:14    Link
  3. I love this. It’s such an elegant solution.

    Rana    27. February 2009, 09:18    Link
  4. I love this too! Fantastic, and of course another advertisement for the incomparable marvels of Ravelry.

    Lady P    27. February 2009, 12:31    Link
  5. From a friend living in Madrid: “I’ve seen it used for a couple of years now. It could well have started with texting, but is very common in emails and other types of informal messaging etc. You probably won’t see it in the national newspapers or corporate correspondence yet but you never know. I agree, it’s excellent.”

    Pica    27. February 2009, 13:53    Link
  6. I’ve not encountered it here. It’s an excellent idea. I’m going to ask a couple of the locals as see what they think. The problem is (a) they think the linguistic gender confusion among non-natives is mysterious, and (b) most of our communication is oral, not written.

    Susan    28. February 2009, 17:02    Link
  7. So how is it pronounced?

    Yes, I play my language by ear. Your new vowel will gain a sound sooner or later, I think. Maybe it’ll be a schwa?

    Ron Sullivan    13. March 2009, 21:30    Link

Previous: Next: