I self-identify as an immigrant, a mother, nonbinary Latine, and I am interested in helping writers and editors think about issues of language justice and conscious editing. That is, recognizing that we all come from different backgrounds, lived experiences, and have multilingual expertise that allows for a true rainbow of outlooks and expressions.
That rainbow of lived experiences is crucial to uplift diversity and voices often drowned out by “Western,” “Global North” perspectives. Language justice centers around recognizing that people have different ways of communicating and deep ancestral (as well as new knowledge) that seeks a deeper understanding and representation. It is also important to beware and be aware on how colonialism and historical oppression plays a part in practices of misrepresentation, bias, stereotypes, negatively charged language, or insensitivity towards marginalized communities. This awareness also goes between marginalized communities themselves.
For example, applying gender-neutral language and pronouns differs a lot between English and Spanish, and it varies from country to country, reason why it is important to acknowledge preferred language when editing and doing translations. “Latinx” might be a term that is preferred by gender-inclusive advocates in the United States, and “Latine” a term preferred by Spanish-speaking advocates in Latin America–there is no “wrong” or “right” way of using both terms. The best practice is to acknowledge the writer’s lived experience. [In Argentina, LGBTQI advocates have become accustomed to speaking with gender-neutral language in their everyday lives, and it’s quite amazing!]
As a bilingual editor and translator, I really enjoy working with writers without imposing a “dominant language” point of view and help them produce their best work.
Please find below some resources on language style that can help other editors do this important work. I will keep adding them as a I find them:
- Templates for Citing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers: In partnership with the staff at the NorQuest Indigenous Student Centre, indigenous scholar Lorisia MacLeod developed citation templates for academic publications that recognize “variation of knowledge across the hundreds of unique Indigenous communities.”
- Crystal Shelley’s “Conscious Language Toolkit for Editors” to help editors identify and give feedback on content that may be biased, exclusive, or disrespectful.
- A guide on preferred terminology to tell the story of enslavement. This guide was created for a US audience but can also be applied in Spanish. Instead of saying “esclavos,” the preferred term would be “esclavizados” or in gender-neutral terms, “población esclavizada.”
- “Guía Práctica de Lenguaje Inclusivo” by Chrysallis, an organization that fights for the rights of trans minors, is a fantastic resource that goes beyond applying “e” endings to words and helps editors and writers apply gender-inclusive language.
Language Justice Should Reflect Our Lived Experiences