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Type: Journal article
Title: Who stands for the norm?: The place of metonymy in androcentric language
Author: Martin, P.
Papadelos, P.
Citation: Social Semiotics, 2017; 27(1):39-58
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Issue Date: 2017
ISSN: 1035-0330
Statement of
Paul Martin and Pam Papadelos
Abstract: Since its emergence as an academic discipline in the early 1970s, feminist commentary and scholarship has prosecuted a critique of androcentric or sexist (gender exclusive) language, which has to some extent been successful. The struggle by women to occupy a positive linguistic space is continually being challenged by the endemic nature of masculine bias, which is realized through “indirect” or “subtle” sexism in the community. Seemingly innocuous words, like guy/guys, are frequently used to represent both men and women, reminiscent of the previous use of man/men as gender-inclusive common nouns. This raises the question of how to account for the persistence of such language use in spite of the fact that attention is regularly drawn to its problematic character. In this paper we approach the matter in a novel way, by appealing to work in the field of cognitive semantics, in particular the conceptual theory of metonymy. We propose that the relationship between the concepts of masculine and feminine as these are typically structured through language is indicative of a metonymy THE MASCULINE FOR THE FEMININE, in which the masculine “stands for” the feminine and in which lexical items are given as inclusive yet in effect refer to one (normative) gender. A corollary is that the feminine is subsumed (really or virtually) by the presence of the masculine and is made to disappear, and only reappears when she needs to be specified within the contextual frame.
Keywords: Androcentric language; conceptual metonymy; guys; representation of gender; sexist language
Rights: © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
RMID: 0030045021
DOI: 10.1080/10350330.2016.1145371
Appears in Collections:Gender Studies and Social Analysis publications

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