Lexical choices of gender identity in Greek genres: The view from corpora

Dionysis Goutsos and Georgia Fragaki

Abstract

This paper examines the role of the lexical pairs άνδρας/άντρας ‘man’ vs. γυναίκα ‘woman’ and αγόρι ‘boy’ vs. κορίτσι ‘girl’ in the construction of gender identity. We use corpus methodology to study the frequency, meanings and collocations of the noun pairs in five different genres of Greek, namely news and opinion articles from newspapers, and general interest, male and female magazines (2,4 million words in total). Our findings point to a fundamental asymmetry in the treatment of the two genders. Furthermore, genre and audience design are found to be prominent in gender construction: In general, male identity is viewed in similar ways in all genres, whereas female identity is constructed in a less uniform way, since texts addressed to women significantly diverge from other genres. Thus, lexical choices are affected by the positioning of the text producer as a member of an in-group, especially in genres in which gender is foregrounded.

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