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Language and Gender: Week 7

Language and Gender: Week 7. KYUWON MOON TYLER SCHNOEBELEN. Today’s plan. Hijra’s language Chatper 7 Categories and labels Patrolling boundaries Default categories & markedness Class stuff. Hijra’s sexual insults. Hall (1997), “Go suck your husband’s sugarcane!”

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Language and Gender: Week 7

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  1. Language and Gender: Week 7 KYUWON MOON TYLER SCHNOEBELEN

  2. Today’s plan • Hijra’s language • Chatper 7 • Categories and labels • Patrolling boundaries • Default categories & markedness • Class stuff

  3. Hijra’s sexual insults • Hall (1997), “Go suck your husband’s sugarcane!” • On Hijra’s curses and sexual insults • “Hijras aren’t counted as women, after all. Hijras are just hijras, and women are just women. If there’s a woman, she will at least have a little shame…… But hijras are just hijras. They have no shame. They’ll say whatever they have to say.” (Non-hijra, 1993) • “We’ll give curses like women. We don’t give manly curses.” (hijra, 1993)

  4. Respect and solidarity • Hijra’s curse • “You worthless fool, good-for-nothing, son-of-a-bastard, may your wife be eaten by a dog, may you be dark-faced, may god shower calamities on you, you widower!” • Why curse? • To others: to reclaim respect • Between themselves: to achieve solidarity

  5. Categorizing • These ambiguities, redundancies, and deficiencies recall those attributed by Dr. Franz Kuhn to a certain Chinese encyclopedia called the Heavenly Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge. In its distant pages it is written that animals are divided into

  6. Types of animals • (a) those that belong to the emperor; • (b) embalmed ones; • (c) those that are trained; • (d) suckling pigs; • (e) mermaids; • (f) fabulous ones; • (g) stray dogs; • (h) those that are included in this classification; • (i) those that tremble as if they were mad; • (j) innumerable ones; • (k) those drawn with a very fine camel's-hair brush; • (l) etcetera; • (m) those that have just broken the flower vase; • (n) those that at a distance resemble flies.

  7. What is this?

  8. And this?

  9. …And this?

  10. Categories are social constructs • … and labels, too!

  11. Patrolling boundaries • Who you asks matters • Eggplant to a botanist vs. a cook • But some folks have more authority than others • And there are lots of forces enforcing the sanctity of social categories

  12. I’m not a feminist, but… • Risks of saying “I’m a feminist” • Feminism: disparaged category • What will come after “but”? • Feminism (Wikipedia) • “Feminism is the idea that women should have political, social, sexual, intellectual, and economic rights equal to those of men.”

  13. People on the Border • Categories under categories • Marginalized categories • Centrality: Some members are better examples than others (birth mothers vs. adoptive mothers vs. working mothers?) • Feminism only for middle-class white women? • Being African American gay man (Barret 1999)

  14. But, who isn’t? • Who is not on the border? • I’m on the border because I am… - Asian - Grad student - Non-native speaker of English - Female - Married - And many more

  15. A rose by any other name… • …would smell as sweet? • Euphemism treadmill (Pinker) • Words originally intended as euphemisms may lose their euphemistic value, acquiring the negative connotations of their referents • negro → colored → black → African-American • idiot/moron (originally neutral!) → retarded → mentally challenged/special

  16. Gender neutralization • Examples: • Stewardess→Flight attendant • He→They • Policeman→Police officer • Chairman→Chairperson • Le professeur→La proffeseure • But there are no linguistic quick fixes • Change isn’t always smooth • You can’t control words once you put them out in the world (e.g., politically correct)

  17. Then, why should we bother? • Gastil (1990)’s results • Males still produce more male images even with “they” pronoun • But… • “Changing schemes for categorization and changing labels are part of changing social practice” (E&M-G 2003: 265).

  18. If we still have time…

  19. Gendered metaphor • Vowels are feminine, consonants are masculine: sound symbolism • Just random? • Vowels: [+sonorant], consonants: [-sonorant] (with exception of [m,n,l,ng]) • Sonorant sounds are soft, deep, and resonant: traits that are considered to be “feminine” • “Father gives birth to a baby and mother raises the baby.” • What I learned from elementary school

  20. Habitus?

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