ERIC Number: ED166973
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1974
Misunderstanding the Need for Eliminating Sexism in Language.
Blaubergs, Maija S.
Parallels between processes in society and in language are drawn in this analysis of problems involved in eliminating sexism in language. The paper is organized as follows: varieties of sexism in language are outlined; the linguistic notion of marking is applied to the sexist structures; psychological aspects of such marking are considered; suggestions for change as well as ongoing change in some idiolects are reviewed; and the misunderstandings related to the proposed and ongoing changes and the accompanying ridicule by linguists and others are discussed. Three kinds of sexism in language are described, and the paper focuses on a type of sexism where the masculine form as the generic occurs. The linguistic notion of marking involves the idea that if one member of a pair is unmarked, that member is then the more natural one and is closer to the ideal or the norm of the unchanged state. The marked member of a pair is seen as the exception and as the more unnatural form. The psychological aspects of continued usage of sexist terms, particularly the presumed markedness of the feminine forms in most contexts, are reviewed. Most of the ongoing changes in idiolects that are related to sexism in language are changes in usage. Many alternative recommendations for structural change have been made, particularly for the pronoun system. Suffixes used to specify the sex of the referent and circumlocutions also have been suggested to circumvent the problem. The analysis includes examples of language usage. (SW)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the meeting of the Linguistic Society of America (50th, New York, December 30, 1974)