Can you believe that ‘Latinx’ is actually a word?
I was proofreading a 600-page book about the career of a world-renowned Nigerian scholar. Then I came across a phrase: ‘Latinx Catholics’.
My immediate instinct was to change it to ‘Latino (or Latina) Catholics’. This was certainly a typographical error, I mused. After all, there is nothing in English like ‘Latinx’.
Fortunately, I paused a bit. Then I decided to do a quick check online. Behold the result displayed by The Oxford Dictionaries:
“Relating to people of Latin American origin or descent (used as a gender-neutral or non-binary alternative to Latino or Latina)
1. ‘a unique Latinx perspective that other shows don’t really capture’
2. ‘Latinx students’ “
So, I nearly cut out a correct word simply because I assumed it was wrong.
Moral of the story: Don’t assume; always double check.
Language is quite dynamic; it undergoes change. And in our rapidly changing era, words are a regular culprit. New words are coined while old ones get new meanings. A word of praise can be transformed into a term of derision. A formal term can quickly become colloquial or popular.
Therefore, as writers and editors who grapple with expressing ideas clearly, we need to be sure that the words we employ accurately convey the meanings we intend.
I hope ‘writer’ and ‘editor’ still remain the same!