After the inclusive language, animals: ask to change various popular expressions – 12/06/2018


Until recently, they were seen arguing against meat consumption, the use of natural skins and any form of physical maltreatment towards animals. Now, perhaps in line with the wave of inclusive language, things have been tenuous: protest posters from environmental associations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have turned their gaze on the use of language under the motto "Stop using anti-animal language"

They promptly question popular expressions such as "kill two birds with one stone"Or"take the bull by the horns"-According to this organization spread on social networks, not to mention other sayings that in Spanish are missing an allusion to a living being, but in English in some way "Violate" or "humiliate" certain species of animals. For example, the phrase "Bring home the bacon.("To bring home the bacon"), comparable, in the general sense, to the classic "stop the pot."

In addition, Castilian has other typical phrases that, by transitive character, may also be under the magnifying glass, since they refer to animals with negative connotations. For example, "every pig gets his San Martin"Or"the dog died, the anger is over"

The interesting thing is that, in its campaign, PETA proposes alternative phrases that could maintain the meaning of the original, but with an expression, in the eyes of that NGO, more acceptable.

For "kill two birds with one stone"Suggest"feed two birds with a scon"…

… and the classic "tOmar the bull by the horns"Offer"take the flower by the thorns"

For Santiago Kalinowski, director of the Department of Linguistic and Philological Research of the Argentine Academy of Letters, "when a group, however small, says that it seems offensive to some expression, we must take that statement seriously"

The phenomenon is complex, but very common in the use of language. "It turns out that the animals of the proverbs are lexicalized, which means that their meaning crystallized. That is why the person who utters these sentences is not really thinking of a bird or a bull, "explained Kalinowski, adding," The problem is that the term is present, that is, even if meaning has crystallized, the animal does not disappear ".

Why address these concerns, which for many are extremists? According to the expert, "this we have seen many times … for example, with expressions like & # 39;I worked as a black man& # 39;, a phrase that is no longer heard but has been widely used and in the beginning, only a few were declaring against using it"

"The use of & # 39;black, in which case he was lexicalized, but at a certain point it was understood that he was offensive, because it brought with it the notion that certain people are only capable of performing a rudimentary and physically difficult work, outside the intellectual work, destined to other ethnic groups, "Kalinowski said.

In this line, in his Twitter post, PETA said that "words are important, and as our understanding of social justice evolves, our language evolves along with it." And in this understanding, the postulate against "speciesism" – the conception that animal species are inferior to humans – is clear.

As Kalinowski concluded, "Changing language does not change reality, that is, by not automatically using sexist expressions, there will be no sexism. However, although reality creates language, to have an impact on reality, we configure the discourses, that is, we use language. And we have the right to want to create speeches that eventually have some impact on others and on reality. Do not underestimate it. "


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