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A discussion and analysis concerning sexist language

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Paul B.
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  1. Introduction.
  2. Deborah Cameron's example of sexism.
  3. The social reality.
  4. Link between language and reality.
  5. Creating a woman centred language.
  6. Conclusion.
  7. Bibliography.

One of the most important political and social movements of the twentieth century has been the drive towards achieving complete equality for all people regardless of race, color, class, gender identity, mental state or physical impairment. One area that has remained resistant to change is language. While it is has been widely accepted that some aspects of language are clearly sexist, for example the use of ?he' as a genderless pronoun (Cameron 1998, Wardaugh 1992, Pauwels 1998), there is still argument as to whether or not changing these forms of language is necessary. Some claim that the use of "politically correct" terms is not only unnecessary but disempowering (Jernigan 1994) because it forces a group of people to refer to themselves by a term that was invented by people who are not of their group.

[...] London: Routledge Cameron, D. (1998). The Feminist Critique of Language. London: Routledge. Escalas, M.M. (2001). Being Politically Correct. http://condor.stcloud.msus.edu/~scogdill/339/polcor.html#vocabulary Finegan, E., Besnier, N. (1989). Language: Its Structure and Use. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt [...]


[...] Conclusion In conclusion sexist language is real, widespread, subtle and damaging. Combating it is not a simple issue and change will be slow but there are many ways of fighting it and advances are being made. As long as awareness of the problem continues to grow and the issues become clearer progress will be made until eventually equality in both society and language will be reached. Bibliography: Bodine, A. Androcentrism in Prescriptive Grammar. In Cameron, D. (Ed). The Feminist Critique of Language. [...]


[...] Creating a woman centred language is far more difficult because it requires a separation from many of the basic methods of speaking in one's language and the creation of entirely new kinds of meaning systems. Spender (1980 in Pauwels 106) uses a very expressive example: ?I'd like a word for the next time I complain about doing the cooking, and my husband says, dear you are so good at it.'? In other words this approach to language change holds that women's experience of the world is notably different to men's. [...]

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