Creating gender-neutral Catalan

Teresa Amat has uncovered an extraordinary document (PDF) produced by the Catalan language police and the Catalan Women’s Institute (which, unlike its British namesake, does not make jam). Its slightly puzzling premise is that language is a mirror of society, and by changing the mirror we can change society, and its creators believe that their work, “without renouncing clarity and accuracy, will facilitate the creation of a language respectful of human diversity.”

The most sensible course of action would be to dump gender-rich Romance languages in favour of English, but instead they hope to rid Catalan of all those nasty men-only words, and they’ve found some elegant replacements to help us along. Most of them are not particularly easy to render in English, but, for example, “translators” will become “translation professionals” and a “secretary” will henceforth be known as “the person responsible for the secretary’s office”. I’ve got no strong feelings about the matter, apart from wishing I didn’t have to pay for it and hoping they won’t start fining me when I get it wrong, which I probably will.

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