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ERIC Number: ED179078
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978
Pages: 17
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: 0
Chomsky's 'Ideal' Native Speaker: Sexism in Synchronic Linguistics.
Stanley, Julia Penelope
Drawing on recent research on sexism in English and the ways in which social forces affect language structure, this paper shows how prescriptive statements about English have been incorporated into linguistic grammars as descriptions of language. It is claimed that Chomsky's "universal grammar" is masculinist and that it is contradicted by native speaker usage of English. The five following assumptions of transformational theorists are falsified by evidence from English usage: (1) the pseudo-distinction between "grammatical" and "natural" gender; (2) the descriptive usefulness of binary features in syntactic/semantic analysis; (3) the concept of coreferentiality as a formal condition; (4) the process of pronominal replacement of an antecedent noun; and (5) the idea of linguistic universals, formal and substantive. The problems inherent in the generally accepted distinction between "natural" and "grammatical" gender are examined in order to indicate the problems in the four other areas. Historically, the name given to an object by male grammarians has been confused with the reality of the thing, and acceptance of sex-linked labels has necessitated the pseudo-distinction between "natural" and "grammatical" gender. Besides contributing to the present crisis in descriptive linguistics, masculinist bias has ignored descriptions of verb systems and the relationship between language structure and the culture in which a language is spoken. (AMH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Gender; Gender (Language)
Note: Paper presented at the annual convention of the Modern Language Association (New York, NY, December 27-30, 1978)