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Gendered Practices in Language cover

Gendered Practices in Language

edited by Sarah Benor, Mary Rose, Devyani Sharma, Julie Sweetland, and Qing Zhang

This volume explores new themes in current research on language and gender. These include teasing out the boundaries between ideology and practice in language use, a focus on performativity, and analysis of how individuals use language to index socially important meanings in constructing their identity. The collection of articles is organized into five sections, each dealing with an aspect of gendered practices in language.

Gendered norms of behavior and belief are maintained in part through policing language use. The papers in this section examine linguistic practices in school-aged peer groups, preschool classrooms, and in new technology development to show how they maintain and reinforce norms about how girls or boys, men or women should act and speak.

The articles on gender bias illustrate ways in which institutions and implicit norms serve to distort or erase the perspectives and accomplishments of women. An example is Ryan's frame analysis of sexual assault judgments in Ireland, which provides clear, concrete linguistic evidence that existing discourses of gender constrain and construct interpretations of events in which sex is salient.

A key part of the practice of norm reinforcement is linguistic ideology—how beliefs about language lead to the linking of a social group, category, or status with particular linguistic features or styles. In the section on ideology, analyses of Basque pedagogical practices, Japanese politeness norms, and Kenyan divination rituals, among others, bring to light the common processes of essentializing and naturalizing the link between gender and language use.

Finally, two sets of cutting-edge work address the two related issues of individual agency and heterogeneity in actual practice. These sections question categorial normativity in terms of both theory and practice. They reveal how individuals make use of linguistic resources with independent social meanings, which are in turn gendered. In the section on agency and resistance, Sidnell's study of adolescent Guyanese males' use of habitual 'doz' links the variable to the construction of an independent, worldly identity, a stance that is more available to boys than to girls. Tetrault's analysis of “tom-boy talk” among Arabic-speaking adolescent girls in France shows how their use of competitive bragging, slang, and ritualized insults contributes to a strategic presentation of masculinity that helps secure their social position in the context of a low-income housing project.

Such practices of resistance lead to heterogeneity within gender groups. The reality of heterogeneity in gendered language practice is evident in work such as Miyazaki's study of shifting pronoun use among Japanese schoolgirls, as well as in Bucholtz's study of new, hybrid forms of cyberfeminism, which attempt to reconcile geek identities with feminist stances. In sum, the volume as a whole draws together a wealth of perspectives on the intersection of language and gender, drawing out salient processes and practices ranging from institutional power to individual performance.

Sarah Benor, Mary Rose, Devyani Sharma, and Julie Sweetland were Ph.D. Candidates in Linguistics at Stanford University at the time of this publication. Qing Zhang is Assistant Professor Linguistics at University of Texas at Austin.


  • Contributors
  • Preface and Acknowledgments
  • 1 Introduction
    Mary Rose and Devyani Sharma
  • Part I: Policing Borders
  • 2 Learning to Play School: The Role of Topic in Gendered Discourse Roles among Preschoolers
    Barbara Lemaster and Mary M. Hernandez-Katapodis
  • 3 Armed Robbers, Assholes and Agency: Linguistic Ideologies, Gender and Police Officers
    Bonnie McElhinny
  • 4 “My Sweater is a Decathlon!…So huh, shut up!” Verbal Crossing and Gender Borderwork in a French Cité
    Chantal Tetreault
  • 5 Scripting Sylvie: Language, Gender, and Humanness in Public Discourse about Software Agents
    Sean Zdenek
  • Part II: Erasure
  • 6 Women's Writing in Sociolinguistics and Linguistic Anthropology, 1965-1995
    Bonnie McElhinny, Marijke Hols, Jeff Holtzkener, Susanne Unger and Claire Hicks
  • 7 What's in a Sexual Assault Judgement? A Frame Analysis
    Lisa Ryan
  • 8 Fred and Wilma: A Phonological Conspiracy
    Saundra Wright and Jennifer Hay
  • 9 Empiricism and Emotion: Representing and Interpreting Women's Pitch Ranges
    Ikuko Yuasa
  • Part III: Ideology
  • 10 Gendered Pedagogies: ‘Authentic’ Basqueness as a Male Domain
    Begoña Echeverria
  • 11 The Discursive Construction of Gender and Morality in Argumentation
    Lia Litosseliti
  • 12 Cracking Codes and Speaking in Tongues: Language, Gender and Power in Two Kenyan Divination Rituals
    Janet McIntosh
  • 13 Ideology and Social Meanings: Rethinking the Relationship between Language, Politeness and Gender
    Shigeko Okamoto
  • Part IV: Heterogeneity and Resistance
  • 14 Geek Feminism
    Mary Bucholtz
  • 15 What Difference does Difference Make?: Negotiating Gender and Generation in Irish Sign Language
    Barbara Lemaster
  • 16 Gender Identity and the Presentation of Self in Japanese
    Yoshiko Matsumoto
  • 17 Relational shift: Japanese girls' nontraditional first person pronouns
    Ayumi Miyazaki
  • 18 ‘Badboy/badman’: Gender, language variation and social categories in an Indo-Guyanese Village
    Jack Sidnell
  • 19 Strategic constructivism: the discursive body as a site for identity display in women's self-defense courses
    Keli Yerian
  • Index


ISBN (Paperback): 1575863189 (9781575863184)
ISBN (Cloth): 1575863170 (9781575863177)

Subject: Language and languages--Sex differences; Sociolinguistics

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