Tag: gender

Shakespeare gender

Analysing what Shakespeare has to say about gender

Humans are very good at reading from start to finish and collecting lots of information to understand the aggregated story a text tells, but they are very bad at keeping track of the details of language in use across many texts. Computers, in contrast, are very good at this level of detail through counting and […]

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Freegan, yarn bombing, and the surprisingly long history of twerk: new words in the OED

The online Oxford English Dictionary (OED) launched on 14 March 2000, and since the OED generally does not add neologisms until they have had some time to establish themselves, the newest words in the early updates tended to be terms that had emerged in the 1990s. Fourteen years on, that has begun to change, and […]

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Japanese gendered speech

We’ve all heard that supposedly women are from Venus and men are from Mars but how different are their styles of communication and speech? Linguists propose that women and men speak differently, regardless of which language they speak. These differences are often called gendered speech. Unlike the grammatical genders which can be assigned to nouns, […]

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Bruce Jenner

Bruce Jenner and the use of pronouns

Until recently, the name ‘Bruce Jenner’ evoked various images in people – a movie-star handsome Olympic athlete, or a reality show participant with the in-laws. No one, however, is likely to have thought, ‘I wonder if Bruce Jenner feels like a woman inside?’ Over the past year or so, Jenner has been increasingly open about […]

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The advantage of ‘trans’

In the late 1990s, I attended a conference focused on “those who identify at the male end of the gender spectrum.” At the end of the conference, organizers asked each participant to fill out an exit poll, intended to capture demographic information about conference attendees. In addition to the usual geographic/age-related questions, organizers asked about […]

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he she they

Faceoff: ‘he’, ‘he or she’, ‘he/she’, ‘s/he’ versus ‘they’

I enjoy reading your comments on Oxford’s blog posts: they provide an invaluable insight into your language concerns, likes, and dislikes. Your remarks strengthen my awareness that we have a sophisticated and grammatically knowledgeable audience: this keeps me on my toes, to say the least. Of course, I always aim to stay within the bounds […]

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Higher-cynths, lower-cynths, and Seeze Pyders: why Lear’s ‘nonsense’ language is more than just fun

Edward Lear

You’ve heard of a writer called Lear? His two hundredth birthday’s this year. They called him absurd But he wrote undeterred, That remarkable writer called Lear. If there were no other reason to remember Edward Lear with fondness (and there are, in fact, very many), his popularization of the limerick would be enough. Like so […]

Slappers and dumb blondes: why we should care about language


With International Women’s Day being celebrated today, and US talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s controversial description of women’s rights activist Sandra Fluke as a ‘slut’ still causing uproar, journalist and writer Anne Sexton looks at the long and inglorious history of the word ‘slut’, and explains why gender-neutral language is still a hot topic. Is […]

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