Language and Gender

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Language and Gender
Language and Gender
Language and Gender
Sexism in English
The tendency to speak of people as cultural
stereotypes of their gender
‘He said, She said’ video
The ways in which men and women talk, and
misunderstand each other
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Sexism in English
The English language reflects the power
that men have historically held in many
areas of life.
Language reflects this social power by
treating words to refer to women as
marked, while unmarked words are those
that refer first to men and also to both
men and women.
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Language and Gender
Markedness
Mankind
Women
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Markedness
Poet
Poetess
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Markedness
Actor
Actress
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Language and Gender
Markedness
Nurse
Male nurse
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Sexism in Language
Why avoid sexism in language?
Some people feel insulted by sexist language.
Sexist language creates an image of a society
where women have lower social and
economic status than men.
Using nonsexist language may change the
way that users of English think about gender
roles.
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Sexism in Language
Avoid ambiguity in gender identity or gender role by
choosing nouns, pronouns, and adjectives that
specifically describe people.
Sexist bias can occur when pronouns are used
carelessly, as when the masculine pronoun he is used to
refer to both sexes or when the masculine or feminine
pronoun is used exclusively to define roles by sex (e.g.,
“the nurse ... she”).
The use of man as a generic noun or as an ending for an
occupational title (e.g., policeman) can be ambiguous
and may imply incorrectly that all persons in the group
are male.
Be clear about whether you mean one gender or both
genders.
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Language and Gender
Sexism in Language
Avoid ambiguity in gender identity or gender role by
choosing nouns, pronouns, and adjectives that
specifically describe people.
Sexist bias can occur when pronouns are used
carelessly, as when the masculine pronoun he is used to
refer to both sexes or when the masculine or feminine
pronoun is used exclusively to define roles by sex (e.g.,
“the nurse ... she”).
The use of man as a generic noun or as an ending for an
occupational title (e.g., policeman) can be ambiguous
and may imply incorrectly that all persons in the group
are male.
Be clear about whether you mean one gender or both
genders.
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How Can You Avoid Gender Bias?
Someone has left his
Man’s search for
briefcase behind.
knowledge
Man, mankind
Research scientists often
A fashion model is
neglect their wives and
usually obsessive about
children.
her diet.
Woman doctor, lady
To man a project
lawyer, male nurse,
The man-machine
woman driver
interface
Mothering
Manpower
Chairman of an
academic department
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How Can You Avoid Gender Bias?
Foreman, mailman, salesmanship
Cautious men and timid women
Participants were 16 men and 4 women.
The women were housewives.
Freshman, penmanship
Walt Whitman
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Language and Gender
Creative Writing
In some languages, gender specific
language is very difficult to avoid.
In Spanglish, chicano is grammatically
masculine and unmarked, and chicana is
grammatically feminine and markedly female.
In German, Professoren is grammatically
masculine and unmarked, and Professorinnen
is grammatically feminine and markedly
female.
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Creative Writing
Gender-neutral Spanglish
Chican@ in place of ‘chicano’ and ‘chicana’
Gender-neutral German
ProfessorIn in place of ‘Professoren’ and
‘Professorinnen’
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Who are these people
and what do they do?
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5

Language and Gender
A father and his son were both in a car
accident. The father was killed, and the
son was rushed to the hospital, where he
needed an emergency operation to save
his life. The surgeon examined the boy
before the operation and said, “I can’t
operate on this child. He is my son.”
How can this be?
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He Said, She Said
Deborah Tannen on gender, language,
and communication
The ways in which men and women talk,
and misunderstand each other
A 50-minute video in seven parts
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Language and Gender
He Said, She Said
1.
Boys and girls
2.
Status and connection
3.
Directness and indirectness
4.
Public talk and private talk
5.
Ritual opposition
6.
Conversational style
7.
Conclusion
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Last Thoughts
In all of this we have treated gender as
binary: male or female.
But we recognize different gender
expressions in addition to these two: LGBT
(lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual) is one
expression.
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