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Key Question: In what ways does language-choice shape our
understanding of gender?
Think back to yesterday’s lesson: How many gender-specific
and generic (neither male nor female) nouns can you think
of? Can you think of any female-specific collective nouns?
1) Terminology test next week.
2) Find two articles which have a gender specific audience –
one male, the other female (e.g., articles from Vogue and
GQ); annotate for evidence of intended, gender-specific
audience, and for attitudes towards gender.
In what ways does language-choice shape our understanding of gender?
Semantic Marking
• Semantic marking: when the semantic range of a word is limited or specified
(“stallion” = male horse; “mare” = female horse)
• Unmarked form: the assumed “norm”, or “standard”; something not limited or
specified (e.g., “horse”, rather than “stallion” or “mare”)
• Marked form: Suggests deviation from the norm – e.g., male nurse.
• Overt marking: marking that takes place through suffixes or modification
Sometimes marks number (e.g. “S” for plurals – egg/eggs)
Sometimes marks gender (e.g. “-ess” for female – lioness)
• Covert marking: marking that is (tacitly) understood: e.g., in certain contexts,
“young” is the marked, “old” the unmarked form (we ask “how old are you?”,
not “how young”...)
In what ways does language-choice shape our understanding
conception of gender?
of gender?
Police Regulations 2003
Regulation 6
1. A member of a police force shall at all times abstain from any activity
which is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of his duties or which
is likely to give rise to the impression amongst members of the public that it
may so interfere; and in particular a member of a police force shall not take
any active part in politics.
What gender-neutral pronoun choices might you use in
place of “his”?
Coin some new gender-neutral pronouns.
In what
our conception
of gender?
our understanding
of gender?
Who wrote this (woman/man)?
Which sex/gender is the narrator?
Which gender is the narrator?
In what ways does language-choice shape our conception of gender?
Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.
For Lucy had her work cut out for her. The doors would be taken off their hinges;
Rumpelmayer’s men were coming. And then, thought Clarissa Dalloway, what a morning —
fresh as if issued to children on a beach.
What a lark! What a plunge! For so it had always seemed to her, when, with a little squeak of
the hinges, which she could hear now, she had burst open the French windows and plunged at
Bourton into the open air. How fresh, how calm, stiller than this of course, the air was in the
early morning; like the flap of a wave; the kiss of a wave; chill and sharp and yet (for a girl of
eighteen as she then was) solemn, feeling as she did, standing there at the open window, that
something awful was about to happen; looking at the flowers, at the trees with the smoke
winding off them and the rooks rising, falling; standing and looking until Peter Walsh said,
“Musing among the vegetables?”— was that it?—“I prefer men to cauliflowers”— was that it?
He must have said it at breakfast one morning when she had gone out on to the terrace —
Peter Walsh. He would be back from India one of these days, June or July, she forgot which, for
his letters were awfully dull; it was his sayings one remembered; his eyes, his pocket-knife, his
smile, his grumpiness and, when millions of things had utterly vanished — how strange it
was!— a few sayings like this about cabbages.
What can you say about the language choices
in this extract? (Think, particularly, about verb
processes; also, about noun and adjective
choices.) Is the lang. particularly or essentially
• Stative verbs/participles
• Free indirect discourse/stream
of consciousness (temporal
experience rather than
“movement” of plot...)
Don't judge us on looks, says MP Louise: Tory
condemns 'trivialisation' of women politicians in
magazine interview
• Is the Daily Mail article
• Are its comments – sexist or
not – directed at women, or
just Louise Mensch?
• What language
choices/techniques can you
point to as evidence?
These are the photos included in the Mail
article, taken of Mensch during the GQ shoot
and interview; the headline above is from the
Mail article.
Point of interest: What does “mensch”
mean in English?