Language Policies, Intercultural Antagonisms and Dialogue
Edited By Kamal Salhi
Maeve Conrick - Language Policy and Gender Issues in Contemporary French 205
MAEVE CONRlCK* Language Policy and Gender Issues in Contemporary French Issues related to language and gender, and especially the representation of women by language, have been the subject of significant debate in recent decades, especially in the final decades of the twentieth century, due principally to the increased demands for change emanating from feminist groups. Responding to the demands of various groups of inter- ested parties has kept policymakers busy, forcing them to confront the wider representation of women not only socially but also linguistically. Nowhere has the debate been more controversial than in the area of the representation of women's professional activities. The linguistic prob- lems posed by the need to address and refer to women in their profes- sional capacities has become more acute with the greater access that women have achieved to a much wider range of occupations than was previously the case. How these problems are manifested linguistically depends to some extent on the typology of individual languages. The existence of grammatical gender in some languages (e.g. French, Span- ish, Italian and German) and its absence in others (e.g. English) has led to different approaches being brought to bear on linguistic policy regard- ing the question of professional titles. It would be erroneous to think that the absence of grammatical gender (and the consequential necessity for grammatical gender agreements) in English means that English is some- how exempt from difficulties with regard to the inclusion of women in descriptions of occupational categories. It means simply that...
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