本ブログでは主に社会言語学の観点から言語とジェンダーの問題を様々に取り上げてきた．gender と gender_difference の各記事，とりわけ私が厳選した「言語と性」に関する記事セットを参照されたい．
言語とジェンダーを巡る研究は，言語使用の男女差という問題にとどまらない．むしろ，男女差の問題は昨今は流行らなくなってきている．言語におけるジェンダーは，初期の研究で前提とされてきたように固定的な属性ではなく，むしろ動的な属性であるととらえられるようになってきたことが背景にある．Swann et al. からの引用 (165--66) により，現代の研究の動向をつかんでおきたい．
language and gender The relationship between language and gender has long been of interest within SOCIOLINGUISTICS and related disciplines. Early twentieth-century studies in LINGUISTIC ANTHROPOLOGY looked at differences between women's and men's speech across a range of languages, in many cases identifying distinct female and male language forms (although at this point language and gender did not exist as a distinct research area). GENDER has also been a SOCIAL VARIABLE in studies of LANGUAGE VARIATION carried out since the 1960s, a frequent finding in this case being that, among speakers from similar social class backgrounds, women tend to use more standard or prestige language features and men more vernacular language features. There has been an interest, within INTERACTIONAL SOCIOLINGUISTICS, in female and male interactional styles. Some studies have suggested that women tend to use more supportive or co-operative styles and men more competitive styles, leading to male DOMINANCE of mixed-gender talk. Feminist researchers, in particular, have also been interested in SEXISM, or sexist bias, in language.
Studies that focus simply on gender differences have been criticised by feminist researchers for emphasising difference (rather than similarity); seeing male speech as the norm and female speech as deviant; providing inadequate and often stereotypical interpretations of WOMEN'S LANGUAGE; and ignoring difference in POWER between female and male speakers.
More recently (and particularly in studies carried out since the late 1980s and 1990s) gender has been reconceptualised to a significant extent. It is seen as a less 'fixed' and unitary phenomenon than hitherto, with studies emphasising, or at least acknowledging, considerable diversity among female and male speakers, as well as the importance of CONTEXT in determining how people use language. Within this approach, gender is also seen less as an attribute that affects language use and more as something that is performed (or negotiated and perhaps contested) in interactions . . . .
・ Swann, Joan, Ana Deumert, Theresa Lillis, and Rajend Mesthrie, eds. A Dictionary of Sociolinguistics. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 2004.
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