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    The feminisation of agentives in French and Spanish speaking countries: a cross-linguistic and cross-continental comparison

    Fraser, Elaine (2015) The feminisation of agentives in French and Spanish speaking countries: a cross-linguistic and cross-continental comparison. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Non-sexist writing guidelines have been produced since the middle of the 20th century but often cause controversy. Taking only one aspect of such language reform, the feminisation of agentives, the present study aims to compare two similarly-structured, grammatically-gendered languages, French and Spanish, with regard to the visibility of women in the print media. After reviewing research that shows the use of masculine gendered agentives can induce, or reinforce, stereotypes which obscure female agency, prior studies of feminisation are classified by methodology and data source showing that little previous research has taken advantage of corpus techniques to analyse naturally occurring data, nor is there a significant body of contrastive research comparing feminisation strategies across languages or across countries with the same language. The collation of a cross-continental and cross-language corpus of media references to named people is therefore proposed and executed to allow both quantitative and qualitative analysis of naturally-occurring feminisations (or, indeed, their absence). Using electronic techniques, a corpus of over 5,000 references to named individuals was collated from press websites in France, Spain, Canada and Argentina. The form of the agentives referring to women was compared to strategies suggested in the UN-produced guidelines on gender neutral language, for French and Spanish, and discrepancies were classified. Classification of the agentives’ morphology was also made, to assign a 'predicted' base gender to each agentive. Quantitative and qualitative analyses performed on the data then drive the discussion of similarities and differences in feminisation strategies, across the chosen languages and countries. The study shows that prestige agentives cause feminisation difficulties across both languages, independently of morphology, whilst also identifying issues that are specific to one language group or one area. Possible reasons for both the similarities and differences are suggested and in turn suggest areas for further research using similar, corpus-based techniques.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Additional Information: Originally submitted to the Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication, School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy.
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2015 13:49
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 12:21


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