Generic pronouns and gender-inclusive language reform in the English of Singapore and the Philippines
The concurrent trends of globalisation and ‘indigenisation’ affecting the English language (varieties) around the world pose some interesting questions for language planning and reform issues (e.g. Phillipson, 1992; Pennycook, 1994; Crystal, 1997). With this project we examine the impact of these competing trends on corpus planning relating to gender-inclusive language use in the Englishes of Singapore and the Philippines, categorised as ‘outer-circle’ Englishes by Kachru (1992,1997). In this paper we present some findings on aspects of gender-inclusive language reform based on an analysis of the student and academic texts in the Singapore and Philippine components of the International Corpus of English [ICE]1. Education, particularly higher education, has been identified as a leading site of contact with and trajectories of change for gender-inclusive language reform. We focus in particular on one of the main features of gender-inclusive language reform: generic pronouns. The results of the ICE corpus analysis suggest that adoption of gender-inclusive and gender-neutral generic pronouns is not yet profiled in these ‘outer-circle’ Englishes. Generic he remains the pervasive generic pronoun in the student and published academic writing in the Singapore English corpus. The Philippines data reveal a similar trend although there is some emergence of s/he forms as the preferred gender-inclusive alternative.
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