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French in and out of France

Language Policies, Intercultural Antagonisms and Dialogue

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Edited By Kamal Salhi

This book examines policy planning and implementation and language variation in the realm of intercultural communication in France, Europe, the Americas, Australia, North and Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. The book aims to discern trends in the development of the capacity of Francophone speakers to engage in dialogue across linguistic boundaries. Each study in the volume seeks to evaluate and analyse the antagonistic situations that have resulted from colonial culture and the post-independence hegemonic cultures. These situations are investigated through their expression in the French language and the languages with which it coexists in the countries considered here. The expertise of linguists and language specialists in this volume provides formalist and structural insights and an innovative phenomenology of language and newly available quantitative and qualitative studies of synchronic language. These methodologies are applied to a wide range of subject areas: law, history, literature, politics and society. Taken as a whole the book offers a fresh perspective on the issues surrounding French within and beyond France in the post-colonial and Francophone contexts.

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Maeve Conrick - Language Policy and Gender Issues in Contemporary French 205

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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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