Gender Neutral English Language Essay

3104 words - 12 pages

Gender-Neutral English Language

The English language has evolved through history in a male-centered, patriarchal society. The male orientation of English carries two complementary implications: being male is normative and natural; and therefore, not being male is abnormal and unnatural. The shifting of our language from masculine to gender-neutral may be awkward at first, and our children may wonder what all the fuss was about. The English language is always changing and the future will hold a gender-neutral language.
Throughout the history of the United States, men have been the dominant sex. Men have not only been the documenters of the English language, but also the creators. “Men, especially those with class and race privilege, remain the chief gatekeepers of language: the editors, publishers, rhetoricians, dictionary-makers, broadcasters, high-status educators”(Henley, 1983). The inequalities in the use of language are numerous. “The grammars of the seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries give evidence that indicates that most of the names in English are used for exclusive masculine reference (Kramarae, 1981). Some argue that language shapes the attitudes and beliefs of a society, “the language has worked with remarkable success in making it possible for man to perpetuate himself as master, to foster the illusion that women are dependent, and in fact, to subjugate women. Male dominance in language may not only reflect but also be involved in the perpetuation of cultural male dominance” (Caldie, 1981). However, some say that language is a reflection of the values of a society it would be simple to blame men for the bias in the English language.
The word “man” was once interrupted as a generic word referring to all humans, but has gradually narrowed in meaning to become a work that refers to adult male human beings. Thomas Jefferson did not make the gender distinction in declaring that “all men are created equal” and “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” At this time, women were unable to vote and could not argue the language. It probably never occurred to Jefferson that anyone would disagree with this statement. Looking at modern dictionaries indicate that the definition that links “man” with males is the predominant one. Studies of college students and school children indicate that even when the broad definitions of “man” and “men” are taught, they tend to conjure up images of male people only. (Jacobson, 1995) Today “man” is used sometimes to refer solely to male humans, while at other times it is intended to include all human beings. Which meaning is intended is often unclear. Whether the intention, the use of “man” obscures the presence and contribution of women. When we use “man” it conjures up images of male persons only, not females or males and females together. Instead of “The man we want for the job” use “The...

Find Another Essay On Gender-Neutral English Language

Sociolingustic Differences Between Men and Women

2356 words - 10 pages -neutral language as the norm. Gendered language has three characteristics. The first characteristic is the use of feminine suffixes such as chairwoman or policewoman. Second, is the use of gender specific nouns. Instead of gendered terms such as mailman or manpower, you would say mail carrier or personnel; so that in this way a person is not assumed to be male. The third and final characteristic is the use of gendered pronouns, which is the most

Gender Neutrality Essay

3592 words - 14 pages idea of gender-neutrality could be considered to be gradually entering discourse in a surprising way: in the policy of law making. This is felt in the instance of gender-neutral language, a form of linguistic prescriptivism that aims to remove the chance of possible discrimination based on biological sex from official documents and places such as the workplace, it would indirectly affect gender-neutral people in the sense that they would not be

Many Linguists argue that the way we use language is sexist. What evidence is there for this and do you agree?

654 words - 3 pages The many linguists that argue that the way we use language is sexist are mostly feminists. They suggest that many English words have become outdated. More and more people have come to sympathise with this view and they try to use gender neutral language. To truly determine whether or not language is sexist you must look back at the origins of our language.Like all other languages, English is constantly changing. These changes are due to our male

Sexism In Language

1480 words - 6 pages certain aspects of the English language create obstacles for them in gaining absolute equality with their male counterparts. Specifically, the use of gender-specific titles and of pseudogeneric pronouns forms the basis of sexist language that is in need of reform. In this paper, I will discuss some of the arguments for and against sexist-language reform, and the role sexist language has played on the problem of sexism in society.Women in society


1207 words - 5 pages (Rationale)Several words in the English language, in fact all languages, have distinct connotations for the different sexes whether positive or negative, of which the negative normally refer to the female or homosexual male counterpart, suggesting their inferiority to the "MAN".What is sexism in language, you may ask?"Sexism in language is the use of language which devalues members of one sex, most invariably women and thus fosters gender

Gender And Language

796 words - 3 pages Sexism in language is the use of gender-specific words which are thought to be discriminatory against women, and the use of expressions which encourage stereotypical images of men and women.The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage states that the issue of sexism in language is a social, rather than linguistic one. According to Ebitt & Ebbit 1982, rather than head for the extremes, the word selection regarding sexism should fall upon

Gender And Language

796 words - 3 pages Sexism in language is the use of gender-specific words which are thought to be discriminatory against women, and the use of expressions which encourage stereotypical images of men and women.The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage states that the issue of sexism in language is a social, rather than linguistic one. According to Ebitt & Ebbit 1982, rather than head for the extremes, the word selection regarding sexism should fall upon

Language and Gender

1475 words - 6 pages because of the change in pronunciation. The supreme affability principle states that language can convey any thought or meaning, which humans may want to communicate. This is why vocabulary is constantly being developed to reflect new ideas advances. This would mean that people would begin to use more neutral words and phrases as the stress for gender equality continues in modern society. This idea of course feeds back

Nepali Interlanguage Research

1683 words - 7 pages , it is expected that English language learners might have particular trouble with the many exceptions in English stress patterns and would likely transfer native stress to English (Riccardi 2003, 552). Syntax Nepali is an ergative-absolutive language and makes use of a subject-object-verb word order in pragmatically neutral clauses, as opposed to the subject-verb-object order in English, though it shows much more flexibility in its word

Sexist Lexicon – Can It Be Changed?

2164 words - 9 pages meanings of many of these derogatory terms. In many common phrases, such as boys and girls and husband and wife, the female term is in the “second place,” which implies that it is “linked and dependent on the masculine term” (Burlacu). If language was able to be changed, many of these aspects that promote male superiority could be reduced, if not completely removed. There are words and phrases that are gender-neutral or politically correct and can

Gender as a Social Construct

2150 words - 9 pages expectations, academics use the word ‘gender’ as a verb rather than a noun. Hence, to do gender or gendering, is to adjust one’s behaviors in order to fulfill social norms. As a result of gendering, gender has transformed into an institution that is heavily linked to every social aspect of everyday life. Language and communication play a critical role in constructing gender and it is not limited to the English language. Within a sample of ten

Similar Essays

English As A Neutral Language Tool

2406 words - 10 pages English as a neutral tool My earlier paper highlights how English is acting as a killer language for native languages. As globalisation has created a global village, the people of different languages need a lingua franca to communicate with one another. At present, English is a true lingua franca and a global language. Crystal opines “a language achieves a genuinely global status when it develops a special role that is recognised in every

Is It Really Necessary To Use Gender Neutral Language? A Short Essay Discussing The Importance Of Non Sexist Language

550 words - 2 pages perception of the interpreter and not only in the mind of the speaker. What people intend to mean through language is not relevant, if the result is that the addressee feels discriminated or offended.Especially English is a language in which it is not too difficult to choose gender-neutral forms. In many cases it is easily possible to find substitutes for certain words or grammatical constructions. People just have to get used to new expression

Gender Bias In Language Essay

1233 words - 5 pages As a society evolves and changes, its language mutates and conforms to changing needs. Words form to define new things, archaic terms drop from use, and meanings change as different usages develop. The English language is grammatically neutral in classifying objects by sex. It is unusual among Indo-European languages in that it does not impose gender on inanimate objects. One might think that freedom from arbitrarily enforced gender would

Effects Of Feminism On Language Essay

972 words - 4 pages The struggle for women’s equality in western society is, in relation to human history, still in its infancy. Less than two centuries have passed since it developed into a social agenda, but the effects are abundant and profound. Their most monumental permutation being the steady modification of the English language to gender neutrality. Every study, essay, and book on the subject has a slightly different definition of gender neutrality. It