Comparing Sexist Expressions in English and Spanish(De)-Constructing Sexism though Language

  1. Fernández Martín, Carmen
ES: Revista de filología inglesa

ISSN: 0210-9689

Year of publication: 2011

Issue: 32

Pages: 67-90

Type: Article

More publications in: ES: Revista de filología inglesa


Literature, folklore, dictionaries and grammars have used and explained language manifestations to conform to the idea that male should be the standard of humanity (Spender 1980). Against this historical background, feminists during the 1970s and later politically correct advocates of the 1990s started battling against sexism in language, providing solutions, in the form of guidelines, booklets, glossaries, etc (Key 1975, Maggio 1987,1991, McMinn 1991). The present article explores the value assumption: "male equals positive and normal, female equals negative and abnormal" (Lakoff 1975, 2001) and, by paying attention to semantic biased deviations, gives a historical account of male and female counterparts. The corpus will be drawn from monolingual and bilingual dictionaries, dictionaries of idiomatic expressions, slang and proverbs to offer a diachronic study of sexist language mainly in English and in Spanish. Synonyms for certain terms will be drawn from Web pages and to measure the currency of some of the examples three on-line corpora will be used. The socio-cultural framework of these terms and expressions will be studied to see to what extent they have moulded both societies and what effects they have in women's lives today.