Article published in:Gender, Language and the Periphery: Grammatical and social gender from the margins
Edited by Julie Abbou and Fabienne H. Baider
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 264] 2016
► pp. 65–88
A poststructuralist approach to structural gender linguistics
This article attempts to counter the contemporary marginalisation of structural gender linguistics within the field of language and gender. It argues that, in order to make structural gender linguistics compatible with recent developments in the field, it is necessary to initiate a conceptual shift from treating language structures as stable parts of a language system to viewing them as unstable and ever-changing in linguistic performance. This theoretical move towards a poststructuralist approach to structural gender linguistics also has methodological consequences. Its central aim is the de-essentialisation of gendered language structures by documenting their heterogeneity, instability and incoherence. This can be achieved in three major ways: cross-linguistic comparison, historical linguistic description and analysis of the usage patterns of particular forms. The three methods are illustrated using language material from English, German and Croatian.
Keywords: contrastive linguistics, de-essentialisation, grammatical gender, historical linguistics, lexical gender, poststructuralism, referential gender, social gender, structural gender linguistics
Published online: 16 December 2016
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