Feminism And Linguistic Theory Pdf

feminism and linguistic theory pdf

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Handbook Of Social Theory Pdf

Feminist philosophy of language has come a long way in a very short time period. Initially, most work in the area was critical, calling for changes either to language itself or to philosophy of language.

More recently, however, the dynamic has changed, with the advent of several major positive research programmes within philosophy of language. In this entry, we first discuss the critiques that constitute the first phase of feminist work in this area, before moving onto the positive research programmes that have recently come to the fore. Our focus in this entry will generally be on the analytic tradition. For continental approaches, see the entries on feminist approaches to the intersection of analytic and continental philosophy , feminist approaches to the intersection of pragmatism and continental philosophy.

It is commonly said that these terms have both gender-specific meanings, as in sentences 1 and 2 , and gender-neutral ones, as in sentences 3 and 4.

Feminists, however, have pointed out that even the supposed gender-neutral meanings of these terms are not really gender-neutral. Janice Moulton a and Adele Mercier provide examples in which there is no doubt that a gender-neutral meaning is intended, but this meaning seems unavailable. As a result, the sentences seem ill-formed:. In order to avoid such a classificatory error, we need to do more careful work on what the meanings of these terms actually are.

But, on its own, this does not show that there is a problem with those uses that have traditionally been classified as gender-neutral, as in sentences 3 and 4. Discovering that we have misclassified an adjective as an adverb would not show anything wrong with actual uses of the term in question. Further reasons are needed in order to object to the use that is made of these terms. Feminist concerns, however, go beyond mere classificatory ones.

Fighting the invisibility of women is an important feminist project in many areas, [ 1 ] and language that makes one less likely to think of women clearly contributes to this invisibility. These terms certainly do not contribute to the invisibility of women.

Instead, they call attention to the presence of women. Nonetheless, most feminists who think about language find these terms objectionable. The message of such terms, she suggests, is that the brand in question is the best, or at least the norm.

This, Moulton argues, carries the message that maleness is the norm. As a result, the use of these terms as if they were gender neutral constitutes a sort of symbolic insult to women. Laurence Horn and Steven R. The temporal sequence, then, cannot support the claim that a gender-specific term has been extended to cover both genders. For example, one cannot use pronouns to refer to a particular individual without knowing their sex. Frye, in common with most feminists of the early s, does not consider trans issues.

Frye notes the absurdity of this. Frye Singular personal pronoun usage, Frye argues, is impossible without knowing the sex of the person one is discussing, and in many cases sex would otherwise be utterly irrelevant. Frye takes this to be an instance of a general tendency to make sex relevant where it need not be, which she takes to be a key feature of sexism.

In addition, she suggests, the constant need to know and indicate sex helps to perpetuate the conviction that sex is a tremendously important matter in all areas. For Frye, this is a key factor in perpetuating male dominance: male dominance requires the belief that men and women are importantly different from each other, so anything that contributes to the impression that sex differences are important is therefore a contributor to male dominance.

The idea that some terms encode a male worldview is initially a puzzling one. One thing that is meant by it is, roughly, that the meanings of certain terms seem to divide the world up in a way that is more natural for men than for women. These terms, then, can be seen as based in a male perspective on sex.

Rather, it can rest on claims about what is typical for men, or on the claim that the only perspective from which certain understandings make sense is a male one. Languages may also lack words for things that matter a great deal to women. This sort of gap is another way that a language can be seen as encoding a male worldview.

Once the problem was named, it became much easier to fight sexual harassment, both legally and by educating people about it Farley ; Spender In her Epistemic Injustice , Fricker connects this up with issues in both ethics and epistemology, especially epistemology of testimony. We discuss this more fully in 2. Problems like those we have seen so far are relatively easy to discern. Moreover, it may seem that they would be relatively easy to correct—new terms can be invented, or alternative words can be used.

Much feminist effort has been devoted to this endeavour, and a huge variety of reforms have been proposed see, for example, Miller and Swift , , and the papers in part two of Cameron a. It did not begin to be criticized until the 19 th century, and despite all the efforts of prescriptive grammarians it has remained very popular in speech.

Other reform efforts have met with greater difficulties. Even some that have caught on seem to have backfired. They take this to show that reforms cannot succeed unless attitudes change as well.

Moreover, feminist work on language has also indicated that there may be problems which are simply not amenable to piecemeal linguistic reforms. Some difficulties that have been raised go well beyond a handful of problematic terms or gaps. Deborah Cameron offers striking examples of writing that take males as the norm without using any particular terms to which one might object, such as the following, from The Sunday Times :.

The lack of vitality is aggravated by the fact that there are so few able-bodied young adults about. They have all gone off to work or look for work, leaving behind the old, the disabled, the women and the children. Cameron Moreover, examples like this and others Cameron provides pass unnoticed by newspaper editors and many readers.

There is clearly a problem, but it is not a problem that can be pinpointed by picking out some particular term as objectionable and in need of reform.

Eliminating language use that takes males as the norm, then, must involve more than changing a few terms or usage rules.

Some feminists e. Corresponding arguments are also put forward about other languages. One thing that is meant by this is that English can be said to be male in a manner similar to that in which particular terms can be said to be male—by encoding a male worldview, by helping to subordinate women or to render them invisible, or by taking males as the norm. One sort of argument for this begins from the examination of large quantities of specific terms, and the identification of patterns of male bias, and proceeds from this to the conclusion that the male bias of English is so widespread that it is a mistake to locate the problem in a collection of words, rather than in the language as a whole.

The first stage of this sort of argument is, obviously, a lengthy and complex one. The sexualisation of words for women is considered especially significant by the many feminists who take sexual objectification to be a crucial element, if not the root, of inequalities between women and men. For more on such examples, see also Baker This widespread encoding of male bias in language is, according to theorists like Spender, just what we should expect.

Males though not, as she notes, all of them have had far more power in society, and this, she claims has included the power to enforce, through language, their view of the world. Moreover, she argues, this has served to enhance their power. There is sexism in language, it does enhance the position of males, and males have had control over the production of cultural forms.

Spender Spender takes the evidence for this claim to be far more than circumstantial, however, and to support it she discusses the efforts of prescriptive grammarians. We have also seen ways that what might be called maleness can make it more difficult for women to express themselves. Where we lack words for important female experiences, like sexual harassment, women will find it more difficult to describe key elements of their existence. If one takes such problems to go beyond selected particular terms, and to infect language as a whole, it is natural to suppose that women are to a large degree silenced —unable to accurately articulate key elements of their lives, and unable to communicate important aspects of their thoughts.

Spender and others also suggest that the maleness of language constrains thought , imposing a male worldview on all of us, and making alternative visions of reality impossible, or at least very difficult to articulate. These arguments often draw upon the so-called Sapir-Whorf hypothesis Sapir ; Whorf Some suggest that male power over language allows men to shape not just thought, but also reality.

This is a very strong version of what Haslanger has called discursive constructivism. Haslanger Feminists like Spender and Catherine MacKinnon argue that male power over language has allowed them to create reality. Haslanger discusses this argument in detail. In general, the solution suggested is not to attempt to create a neutral language that can accurately capture reality in itself, a goal they would take to be nonsense. Instead, we must aim to create a new reality more congenial to women. Some feminists have argued that the only way to achieve this is for women to create their own language, either by redefining terms already in use, or by inventing a new language, with new words and new rules.

Only in this way, they suggest, will women be able to break free from the constraints of male language and male thought, to articulate a competing vision for the world, and to work toward it Daly and Caputi ; Elgin ; MacKinnon ; Penelope ; Spender Lynne Tirrell offers an especially sophisticated and complex discussion of this idea.

The claims discussed above concerning the maleness of English, its causes, and its effects, are far from uncontentious. First, the extent of male bias in language is debatable. Although it is right that there is much to worry feminists about a wide variety of specific terms and usages, it is far from clear that it is appropriate to claim that English is male-biased in some sweeping sense.

It is also unclear exactly what the claim being made is. If the claim is simply that there is much for feminists to object to, then it is almost certainly right—but it is far from obvious that it is useful to focus on such a general claim rather than on specific problems, their complexities and their possible solutions Cameron b. Next, the power that men have undeniably exercised in society though, importantly, some groups of men have been vastly less powerful than others by no means translates to a general power over language.

Language is a difficult thing to control, as those who have attempted to create languages have learned. The main power men have had has concerned dictionaries, usage guides, and laws. The claimed effects of the maleness of language are also problematic.

We have already seen problems for the idea that men control language. The idea that men also control or create thought and reality faces further problems. Nonetheless, it does seem right to notice that problems with specific terms can render it more difficult for women to communicate about important elements of their lives, and probably also more difficult to reflect upon these elements Hornsby These difficulties could perhaps be described as partial silencing, partial constraint of thought, or hermeneutical injustice Fricker , which we discuss more fully in 2.

If the criticisms above are right, then women certainly do not need to create their own language.


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Feminism and Linguistic Theory

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Handbook Of Social Theory Pdf The chapters in the third edition place a strong emphasis on the future of theory development, assessing the current state of theories and providing a roadmap for how theory can shape. Sniderman 9. Rule of Law Handbook - This strategic management involves developing, organizing, and executing a. Social choice theory is the study of theoretical and practical methods to aggregate or combine individual preferences into a collective social welfare function. The Handbook of Psychologywas prepared for the pur-pose of educating and informing readers about the present state of psychological knowledge and about anticipated ad-vances in behavioral science research and practice.

Chauvinism is the irrational belief in the superiority or dominance of one's own group or people, who are seen as strong and virtuous, while others are considered weak or unworthy. According to legend, French soldier Nicolas Chauvin was badly wounded in the Napoleonic Wars and received a meager pension for his injuries. After Napoleon abdicated, Chauvin maintained his fanatical Bonapartist belief in the messianic mission of Imperial France, despite the unpopularity of this view under the Bourbon Restoration. His single-minded blind devotion to his cause, despite neglect by his faction and harassment by its enemies, started the use of the term. Chauvinism has extended from its original use to include fanatical devotion and undue partiality to any group or cause to which one belongs, especially when such partisanship includes prejudice against or hostility toward outsiders or rival groups and persists even in the face of overwhelming opposition. In English, the word has come to be used in some quarters as shorthand for male chauvinism , a trend reflected in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary , which, as of , begins its first example of use of the term chauvinism with "an attitude of superiority toward members of the opposite sex".

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Feminism And Linguistic Theory

Dependency theory is the notion that resources flow from a "periphery" of poor and underdeveloped states to a "core" of wealthy states , enriching the latter at the expense of the former. It is a central contention of dependency theory that poor states are impoverished and rich ones enriched by the way poor states are integrated into the " world system ".

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Feminism and Linguistic Theory


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