Linguistik online  11, 2/02

Editor's preface

Elke Hentschel (Berne)

Editor's preface to the second issue on "Language and gender"


This is the second issue of Linguistik online that deals with language and gender. It contains articles in English, French and German and covers a broad range of topics: individual languages and their impact on each other, grammarians' approach to gender and language in different historical contexts, and empirical research on language use in Swiss and German newspapers.

In his paper on "Sexism, English and Yoruba", Yisa Kehinde Yusuf (Botswana) examines a subject that has seldom been investigated: the influence of the gender system of one language on that of another. According to his findings, the various forms of sexism in Standard English and Yoruba tend to reinforce each other in Nigeria. However, in Nigeria's Pidgin English, Mr. Yusuf observes the precise opposite, i.e. gender biases seem to be eliminated in transferral.

While translation may not be considered a means for languages to influence one another in a narrow sense, there is still a transfer of concepts implied in the process. This transferral of concepts and connotations of gender from one language to another, as well as their effect on translation and on readers' perceptions of translated texts, are the main topics of Uwe Kjær Nissen's (Denmark) "Aspects of translating gender".

Sylvie Durrer's (Lausanne) article "Les femmes et le langage selon Charles Bally: 'des moments de décevante inadvertance'?" deals with the French grammarians of the late 19th century. She shows that Charles Bally was by no means unique among them in inquiring into the nature of the relations between women, the feminine gender and language. Ursula Doleschal (Klagenfurt) follows a similar approach as Durrer, although her focus is on German (and some English) grammarians who produced their work between the 16th and 20th centuries.

The final section of this issue presents the results of empirical research on Swiss and German newspapers. Melanie Greve, Marion Iding and Bärbel Schmusch (Osnabrück) evaluated, in a comprehensive analysis that is the first of its kind, 11,369 job advertisements in four national and five regional German newspapers, as well as in two professional periodicals. The purpose of the authors was to determine if there was any open or implicit discrimination. Where there was not, there remained the interesting question of how the advertisements solved the problem of addressing men and women alike — a difficult one given the grammar of the German language.

In her contribution "Ehefrau Vreni haucht ihm ins Ohr... Untersuchung zur geschlechtergerechten Sprache und zur Darstellung von Frauen in Deutschschweizer Tageszeitungen", Regula Bühlmann analyses six articles that were selected at random from three different newspapers. Although the results show that sexism is no longer predominant, examples — both veiled and open ones — still exist.

 Linguistik online 11, 2/02

ISSN 1615-3014