Latest Issue: Vol 9, No 1 (2015) RSS2 logo

Gender and Language

Carmen Rosa Caldas-Coulthard
University of Birmingham, United Kingdom and Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil

Tommaso M. Milani
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

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We are very pleased to announce that our first FREE TO DOWNLOAD Virtual Special Issue, “Corpus Approaches to Gender and Language”(V1, 2013), edited by Paul Baker, is now available to access here.

About the Journal

There are many journals focused on gender and many devoted to language. Most of these sometimes publish articles on language and gender. There is, however, currently no single scholarly journal to which those interested in gender and language can turn as contributors looking for an audience sharing their focus or as readers seeking a reliable source for on-going discussions in the field. Gender and Language fills the gap by offering an international forum for research on and debates about feminist research on gender and language.Gender and Language showcases research on femininities and masculinities, on heterosexual and queer identities, on gender at the level of individual performance or perception and on gender at the level of institutions and ideologies. Publication Frequency: three issues a year from 2013
ISSN: 1747-6321 (print)
ISSN: 1747-633X (online)

As a point of departure, Gender and Language defines gender along two key dimensions. First, gender is a key element of social relationships often loosely linked to perceived differences between the sexes. Gender relations are encoded in linguistic and symbolic representations, normative concepts, social practices, institutions and social identities. Second, gender is a primary arena for articulating power, intersecting in complex ways with other axes of inequality, like class, race, and sexuality. Gender is understood as multi-faceted, always changing, and often contested: the editors welcome discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of competing definitions of gender and of new analytical perspectives.

The journal encourages discussion and debate about the implications of different definitions of gender and different approaches to analyzing the production and interpretation of texts and speech. It welcomes research employing a range of linguistic approaches (e.g. conversation analysis, discourse and text analysis, ethnography of communication, pragmatics, variationist sociolinguistics, interactional sociolinguistics, stylistics) and from a variety of disciplines, including linguistics, anthropology, women and gender studies, education, philosophy, psychology, folklore, sociology, communication studies, queer studies, literary and cultural studies, as it aims to foster interdisciplinary discussion and dialogue among these disciplines.

Gender & Language is published in association with the International Gender & Language Association (IGALA).Learn more about the Association by going to IGALA. You can join IGALA as a regular member from the Equinox website by going to the subscription pages and chosing IGALA membership. Regular Membership includes a subscription to the journal.

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IGALA membership runs on a calendar year but, at whatever point you join, you will be sent any back issues that have already been published that year. Your subscription will complete with the publication of issue 2 of that year's volume, regardless of when you join.

Membership and Presentation at Conferences.

In order to present a paper (including posters, panels, etc.) at the next IGALA biannual conference, you must have a current IGALA membership (after having submitted a paper and having it successfully accepted according to the guidelines of the conference organising committee).

*Please note that IGALA membership runs on a calendar year. In cases where abstract submission and presentation fall in different calendar years, you will need to be a paid up member for the calendar year in which the presentation falls.

Abstracting & Indexing

The journal is covered by:
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  • Arts & Humanities Citation Index
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  • Current Contents/Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Current Contents/Arts & Humanities
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  • Linguistics Abstracts
  • Educational Research Abstracts Online
  • MLA Bibliography
  • Bibliography of Linguistic Literature
  • SocIndex with FullTEXT
  • Linguistics and Language Behaviour Abstracts
  • Feminist Periodicals: A Current Listing of Contents
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Most Viewed Articles


Do bodies matter? Travestis' embodiment of (trans)gender identity through the manipulation of the Brazilian Portuguese grammatical gender system

This study investigates Southern Brazilian travestis’ manipulation of gender identity through the manipulation of the Portuguese grammatical gender system. We argue that
the embodiment of feminine features onto biologically male bodies enables travestis to wander through various ideologies about masculinity and femininity and incorporate these ideologies in their linguistic construction of identity. Travestis use masculine forms to refer to themselves or other travestis when: (1) producing narratives about the time before their body transformations took place; (2) reporting speech produced by others when talking about travestis; (3) talking about themselves within their family relationships; and, perhaps the most unveiling category, (4) distinguishing
themselves from ‘other’ travestis they do not identify with – a face-saving strategy. Thus, the study shows how southern Brazilian travestis use the grammatical gender
system in Portuguese as a linguistic resource to manipulate their identity/ies and the identity/ies of the community they belong to.
Posted: 2007-01-18More...

Zuiqian 'deficient mouth': Discourse, gender and domestic violence

This article examines the relationship between language, gender and domestic violence.
Contextualizing the study of domestic violence in China, this article focuses
its analysis on a metapragmatic discourse on domestic violence – zuiqian ‘deficient
mouth’ in a working-class community in Beijing. It argues that the discourse of zuiqian,
by blaming women’s mouths and their ‘deviant’ speaking styles, individualizes
the serious social problem of domestic violence and downplays the structural force
that causes male violence. By fragmenting women and regulating their mouths, the
discourse of zuiqian serves as an anatomic mode of power (anatomo-politics) for the
state to discipline women and safeguard society. Also, this discourse constitutes a repudiating site (i.e. a site at which subjects are condemned or criticized in order for them to emerge) to construct the kind of subject identified with China’s neoliberal agenda. This study shows that both language and gender can be engaged as either anatomic modes of power or repudiating sites for subjectivity formation in the broader political and economic transformations of the process of globalization. In the context of neoliberalism, the private, the individual and the body have become the bases for
political legitimacy.
Posted: 2007-01-18More...

Can the term "genderlect" be saved? A postmodernist re-definition.

This article is an attempt to reclaim the term "genderlect" as a valuable sociolinguistic concept. It shows that "genderlect" in its traditional sense as a variety according to speaker sex is just as much a myth as are early sociolinguistic theorisations of "women's/men's language". From a postmodernist perspective, genderlects must be seen as stereotypical resources for gendered stylisation practices that are not to be equalled with how women and men actually speak. This is illustrated by using material from a comprehensive study on linguistic gender stylisation in advertising discourse. Moreover, it is suggested that the strictly binary genderlect concept is abandoned and replaced by another one that sees genderlects as heavily context-dependent, community-based and therefore infinite in number. A postmodernist genderlect concept should be able to deal with hegemonic as well as subversive gender styles and at the same time acknowledge that what is generally judged to be hegemonic in one context might be subversive in another (or vice versa).
Posted: 2007-07-14More...

Putting communities of practice in their place

The study of language, gender, and sexuality has enthusiastically embraced the concept community of practice. Now the field needs to take the concept further in two directions: (1) The comparative direction examines different but similar kinds of communities of practice to explore generalizations about how practice contributes
to the linguistic construction of gender and sexuality; (2) The relational direction locates communities of practice in relation to a world beyond – to other communities of practice, to social networks, to institutions (e.g. schools, churches, prisons), and to more global imagined communities (e.g. nations, women). For each direction, we mention
exemplary studies, emphasizing that the construct community of practice does not offer new analytic units or replace other concepts, but provides fresh perspectives
on familiar social units and enriches analyses drawing on other analytic concepts. Only an interdisciplinary research community where researchers connect their work
can put communities of practice in their proper place.
Posted: 2007-01-18More...

Contradictions in Gendered Discourses: Feminist Readings of Sexist Jokes?

In this largely theoretical paper, I look at contradictions as these may be experienced by feminist readers of sexist jokes, and at ways active readers may deal with these. Drawing on the notions of interpellation (e.g. Althusser, 1998) and focalisation (Genette, 1972; Montgomery, 2000), I start with ways of reading the text in question – a set of sexist jokes. Then, drawing on the rather diverse theoretical notions of reader response(s), discourse(s), irony, double voicing and post-feminism, I look at ways of articulating feminist readings of the set of jokes. I propose four ‘alternative reading positions’ for feminists; in this way, the paper also contributes, modestly, to a theory of reading. I conclude by examining the implications of the study for everyday practice and for feminism itself.
Posted: 2007-07-14More...

Recent Articles


Sexism and gender stereotyping in the Dagbanli language

This paper examines sexism in the Dagbanli language of northern Ghana. The focus is on the vocabulary, and on popular terms and expressions that name, label or describe males and females. Although reference is occasionally made to dictionary definitions, the analyses of gender biases and stereotyping are based on speakers’ interpretations and descriptions of the cultural practices that provide the context for the use of words and their proper interpretation. The study reveals biased assumptions in the meanings of words that refer to males and females and the use of words to create and affirm gendered stereotypes of the two sexes. Similar words that refer to males and females do not have equivalent meanings; there are more labels that denigrate and trivialise females than males, and the labelling shows that different standards of conduct are set for males and females.
Posted: 2014-03-31More...

Gender-specification and occupational nouns: has linguistic change occurred in job advertisements since the French feminisation reforms?

This article examines the representation of the sexes in the language of job advertisements in France, given legislation outlawing gender discrimination in employment and the consequent feminist language reform initiatives. Specifically, it analyses a data set collected from the employment sections of the French national newspapers Le Figaro, Le Monde and Aujourd’hui en France, focusing on linguistic strategies that reflect that the advertised position is open to both female and male applicants. The analysis shows that in most cases the gender bias has been removed by means of the minimalist strategy of adding the descriptor H/F (homme/femme = man/woman) to a masculine occupational noun. The analysis also reveals that a mere one-third of the advertisements are truly gender-inclusive, using epicene occupational nouns, or nouns in both the feminine and the masculine forms, and gender-inclusive text, or focusing on the tasks to be accomplished rather than on the job applicant.
Posted: 2014-03-11More...

Linguistic manifestation of gender reinforcement through the use of the Japanese term kawaii

This paper examines the Japanese word kawaii. Japanese women frequently use kawaii to express positive feelings towards objects or people. Scholars suggest that Japanese women are making kawaii a part of their gender identity. From a linguistic perspective, kawaii is not lexicalised in other languages. Although the kawaii phenomenon has been thoroughly examined, there has been no rigorous semantic analysis. In this study, the framework of the natural semantic metalanguage approach was applied to explicate the meaning of kawaii. The analysis indicates that the core meaning of kawaii is explained as ‘when people see this thing, they can’t not feel something very good, like people often can’t not feel something very good when they see a small child’. The kawaii syndrome reveals a Japanese cultural characteristic that puts emphasis on being ‘gender appropriate’ in society. The analysis has implications for understanding gender construction and expression in non-Western cultures.
Posted: 2014-03-04More...

Making gender relevant in Spanish-language sports broadcast discourse

Using the US Spanish-language television broadcasts of the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer (football) tournament, the present study offers an analysis of the crucial role that language plays in the gendering of sport. Despite the framing of the coverage as a celebration of women’s participation in sports, this was undermined by the sometimes covert, sometimes overt, objectification, trivialization and patronizing of the players and their sport during the broadcast. We examine the ground-level interactional practices through which this marginalization was achieved. First we consider references to persons, presenting overarching quantitative distributions as well as contextualized examples. We then highlight how gender is brought to the interactional surface and made relevant – to the speakers themselves and to the at-home audience – through the discursive dichotomization of women’s versus men’s soccer, with particular attention to the ways in which topicalization of gender-based differences can pave the way for the recreation of gender-based inequalities. Finally, we illustrate how gendering soccer reflects and transcends the game itself, invoking and reestablishing normative gender roles and expectations in and from society.
Posted: 2014-02-23More...

Aggressively feminine: the linguistic appropriation of sexualized blackness by white female characters in film

This article builds on previous research on white male cross-racial linguistic appropriations of blackness by considering similar appropriations by white female characters in film. Specifically, it examines how such characters use semiotic resources of hip-hop, particularly its language and music, to perform an aggressive femininity that is simultaneously raced, classed, sexualized and gendered. While these performances are racially complex because they push against the boundaries of US racial categories, they also erase the distinctions between black, Latino, gang and hip-hop cultures. Furthermore, in using hypersexualized blackness to construct a white female hip-hop and/or gangster identity, black females become invisible in these films. The study demonstrates that the mediatized representation of white hip-hop relies on problematic ideologies of both race and gender
Posted: 2014-01-20More...


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