Latest Issue: Vol 9, No 2 (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

Book Review Editor
Cecilia Chiacchio
Send Books for Review to:
Gender & Language/Reviews
Departamento de Lenguas y Literaturas Modernas (A118)
Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias de la Educación
Universidad Nacional de La Plata
Calle 51 e/ 124 y 125 /(1925) Ensenada, Prov. Bs As

Open Access Virtual Issue Now Available!

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.

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.

Publication Frequency
three issues a year
ISSN: 1747-6321 (print)
ISSN: 1747-633X (online)

Abstracting & Indexing
The journal is covered by:

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  • Scopus Abstract and Citation Database
  • Linguistics Abstracts
  • Educational Research Abstracts Online
  • MLA Bibliography
  • Bibliography of Linguistic Literature (BIBL)
  • SocIndex with FullTEXT
  • Linguistics and Language Behaviour Abstracts
  • Feminist Periodicals: A Current Listing of Contents
  • European Reference Index (ERIH Plus)
  • Equinox Publishing is an official WorldCat Partner. Our content is centrally indexed in OCLC’s WorldCat Local discovery service.

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    Send Books for Review to:
    Gender & Language/Reviews
    Departamento de Lenguas y Literaturas Modernas (A118)
    Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias de la Educación
    Universidad Nacional de La Plata
    Calle 51 e/ 124 y 125 /(1925) Ensenada, Prov. Bs As

    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...

    Social constructionism, postmodernism and feminist sociolinguistics

    This article argues that it is time to put women back at the centre of language and gender research. Following a discussion of some issues with social constructionist
    and postmodernist approaches to the analysis of gendered social interaction, a case is made for identifying general (often repressive or constricting) patterns based on
    analyses using a detailed ethnographic approach. More specifically, the paper outlines the advantages of using a community of practice approach to analysing workplace discourse, providing evidence of the ‘gender order’, the repressive ideology which ensures that deviations from gender norms (by women or men) entail penalties. It is argued
    that such an approach provides a means of identifying discursive behaviours which penalise women in many workplace contexts on the one hand, while documenting a
    range of active discursive ways of resisting sexist behaviours on the other.
    Posted: 2007-01-18More...

    Recent Articles


    “Let´s Party!” Harry Potter fan fiction sites as social settings for narrative gender constructions

    Online communication is often presented in research as offering ways for young people to explore various forms of masculinity and femininity, which, in turn, could extend the notions of gendered identity. This paper explores how a Harry Potter fan fiction website can function as an online setting for gender identity construction among young fans. A positioning analysis of a small story told in an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) shows that although traditional gendered subject positions are explored and troubled in the story and its telling, heteronormativity prevails through the interpretative repertoires made available by the textual universe of Harry Potter. On the other hand, the positioning analysis of the small story activates an understanding of the interplay between the relational order among story characters and among the storytellers that can be seen as opening up a space between what is the told and the telling that allows the fans to experiment with aspects of gender identities that are related to power and control within an interpretative repertoire of heteronormativity.
    Posted: 2014-06-05More...

    The interactional organization of sex assignment after childbirth

    That society divides its members into females and males is the point of departure for much research on gender and language and yet the situated accomplishment of the primordial sex categorisation of the newborn child has not attracted much scholarly attention. The present study fills this research gap by exploring the interactional organisation of sex assignment in a corpus of 67 video recordings of Swedish hospital births. We present quantitative and qualitative support for the idea that sex assignment is a prioritised activity during the first minutes after childbirth. Contrary to descriptions and assumptions in previous research, we find that sex assignment typically is sequentially accomplished in the social interaction between parents and medical staff. Our analysis reveals a normative preference that selects parents (rather than medical staff) as the ones who should discover and declare sex. We also provide tentative evidence that sex assignment may be a gendered practice that prioritises the father (rather than the mother) as the individual entitled to assign sex.
    Posted: 2014-06-03More...

    ‘His belly dancer’: young women’s interactional negotiation of sexual bodies and desire at a Baptist university

    While spirituality and sexuality are often dichotomised as oppositional, they are in fact socially constructed in complex ways in everyday practice. This article investigates the ways in which a group of young women at a Baptist university in Texas interactionally negotiate the cultural construct of a ‘belly dancer’ and its perceived sexualised associations in relation to the moral codes and principles of their religious community of practice. The analysis examines the ways in which the participants take both positive and negative stances toward belly dancing through strategic ambiguity, which is the process whereby participants juxtapose seemingly incongruous elements in order to try out different identities and ideologies while maintaining a certain degree of deniability. In the four examples I analyse, I show how the participants achieve strategic ambiguity through the use of categorisation devices, interactional framing, hyperbolic parallelism, and stance alternation. Given that the participants’ Christian community of practice promotes – and to a certain extent requires – sexual integrity and modesty from its members, strategic ambiguity is a valuable interactional resource for negotiating the taboo topic of belly dancing and its perceived sexual associations.
    Posted: 2014-06-03More...

    Sexual violence and the creation of an empowered female voice

    This paper describes how slang serves as a source of empowerment for a marginalised social group, helping speakers create an inhabitable voice that contests community norms. Within the insular youth community known as the Sinhalese Raggers, females differentiate the terms they use to describe sexual assault from terms used by males. In doing so, they construct a voice in opposition to a male subject they hold responsible for sexual assault. The study of sexual assault slang contributes to recent register studies by exploring register at the community level, providing ethnographic evidence of the social motivations behind non-uniform language use. More broadly, this work documents negotiations between individuals and group collectives – how dominated speakers (female Raggers) exhibit agency through language.
    Posted: 2014-05-19More...

    Influential or influenced? The relationship between genre, gender and language in manga

    his paper examines gendered speech in a corpus of 10 popular manga (Japanese comics) series, with attention to realism and genre based differences. While traditionally described as a highly gendered language, Japanese recently has appeared to be becoming less so. Manga are often given as one influential factor for these changes, particularly regarding girls’ use of masculine first-person pronouns; however, previous research has been contradictory, and the importance of gendered-genres leads one to anticipate differences in characters’ speech. In response, I looked at two markers of Japanese gendered speech – personal pronouns and sentence-final particles – finding that while personal pronoun usage was generally normative, all genders used a variety of gendered sentence-final particles. While genre-based variations such as more stereotypical speech in manga for boys may reflect narrative differences, I suggest that the data show that manga reflect previously established changes, as with sentence-final particles, thus appearing consistent with reports that mass-media are not a clear source of linguistic change. However, their perception as low texts may be influential in their association with negative changes, even when such claims are not supported empirically, as with personal pronouns. In this way, popular media’s role in changing gendered language is shown to be more complex than commonly assumed.
    Posted: 2014-05-02More...


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