Gender and Language

Published by Equinox Publishing
Online ISSN: 1747-633X
Print ISSN: 1747-6321
The rules of evidence both govern the admissibility of evidence in trials and determine the scope of meaning to be accorded to that evidence. This article examines two American evidence rules and suggests that both rules incorporate ‘masculine’ norms of language usage. The evidence rule defining adoptive admissions provides that, when a person is confronted with an accusation of wrong-doing and fails to assertively deny it, the allegation is deemed to be admitted through silence. This rule presumes that one’s natural reaction upon an accusation would invariably be an explicit denial, such that silence can fairly be taken as a confession. Thus, this rule privileges assertive and confrontational modes of speech - all coded as ‘masculine’ - and additionally ignores the ways in which power assymmetries impact responses to accusation. Likewise, the evidence rule construing apology as an admission of fault denigrates expression of emotional solidarity - coded as ‘feminine’ - in favor of a presumption that penalizes those who say ‘sorry’ by presuming it means ‘I’m sorry I did something wrong’ rather than ‘I’m sorry that something bad has happened to you.’ Evidence rules such as these both channel and constrain the legal interpretation of language in ways that sustain linguistic ideologies of gender and gendered hierarchies of legal power.
Language, power and gender: A tribute to Susan Ervin-Tripp (1927–2018)
This tribute characterises the scholarly life of interactional sociolinguist Deborah Schiffrin (1951–2017), locating her contribution to the 1992 Berkeley Women and Language Conference (‘Gender displays among family, friends, and neighbors: taking the role of another’) within her lifelong exploration of the intricate interrelated workings of language, identity and the world. Debby’s deep understanding of linguistics and sociology undergirded and nurtured nuanced, multidimensional analyses of individual utterances in their connection to systematic patterns within larger communities of practice. Her broad, multifaceted and deep legacy in discourse studies inspires all who seek to examine identity as performed and situated within myriad social worlds and their associated discourses.
This tribute highlights the scholarly work of Chicana sociolinguist D. Letticia Galindo (1952–1998), whose research throughout her academic career focused on challenging biased and restricted interpretations of Chicanas’ linguistic self-expression and innovation. Letticia’s studies of members of subcultures surpass the stereotypic image of Chicanas’ language use, stressing that when women break the bonds of traditional gender roles, a liberated voice emerges: a voice that is no longer silent, passive or unidimensional. Letticia’s innovativeness opened the door for the next generation of scholars to expand research related to the legitimacy of Chicanas’ diverse linguistic repertoires. Este tributo destaca el trabajo académico de la sociolingüísta chicana D. Letticia Galindo (1952–1998), cuya investigación a lo largo de su carrera académica se centró en desafiar las interpretaciones tendenciosas y restringidas de la autoexpresión e innovación lingüística Chicana. Los estudios de investigación de Letticia sobre miembros de subculturas superan la imagen estereotipada del uso del lenguaje chicana, enfatizando que cuando las mujeres rompen las ataduras de los roles tradicionales de género, surge una voz liberada: una voz que ya no es silenciosa, pasiva o unidimensional. La innovación de Letticia abrió la puerta para que la próxima generación de académicos expandiera la investigación relacionada con la legitimidad de los diversos repertorios lingüísticos de Chicanas.
This tribute considers the work of linguist and novelist, Anna Livia (1955–2007). Anna was a noted fiction writer before becoming a linguist and much of her work considered language play in literature. Anna brought her experience as a lesbian activist to queer linguistics, where she played an important role in establishing the field. Her work continues to be an important example of linguistic research on lesbians, an area that continues to be underrepresented in the field.
Sex, Culpability and the Defence of Provocation, Danielle Tyson (2013) Abingdon: Routledge, 223pp. The Language of Sexual Misconduct Cases, Roger Shuy (2012) Oxford: Oxford University Press, 229pp.
Gender, Language and Ideology: A Genealogy of Japanese Women’s Language Momoko Nakamura (2014) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 253 pp.
From Drag Queens to Leathermen: Language, Gender, and Gay Male Subcultures Rusty Barrett (2017) New York: Oxford University Press, 268 pp.
Queer, Latinx, and Bilingual: Narrative Resources in the Negotiation of Identities Holly Cashman (2018) New York: Routledge, 205 pp.
Language, Gender, and Sexuality: An Introduction Scott F. Kiesling (2019) New York: Routledge, 188 pp.
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