Gender, Sexuality, and Meaning: Linguistic Practice and Politics

Gender, Sexuality, and Meaning: Linguistic Practice and Politics

Gender, Sexuality, and Meaning: Linguistic Practice and Politics

Gender, Sexuality, and Meaning: Linguistic Practice and Politics

Synopsis

This volume offers a representative selection of Sally McConnell-Ginets publications on language, gender and sexuality, which circle around the following themes: language users are actively engaged in making meanings, both as speakers and listeners; languages and socio-political institutions constrain, but do not determine, communicative possibilities; attention to language deepens understanding of gender and sexuality, including connections to ethnicity, class, race, and other dimensions of social identity and inequality.

Excerpt

It is an honor to include this collection of Sally McConnell-Ginet’s essential feminist writings in Oxford University Press’s Studies in Language and Gender. The volume is not only an indispensable introduction to the key work of this critically important scholar, but it is also a veritable biography of language and gender studies over the last three decades and more. This is no accident, for McConnell-Ginet stands as one of the foundational figures of language and gender research. Her impact has been significant both for her substantial contributions to the field as well as for her status within linguistics as a formal linguist with an international reputation for her work in semantics, independent of (but by no means unrelated to) her scholarship on language and gender. Her unwavering commitment to advancing feminist goals through her research is especially remarkable given that linguistics has never been known for its progressive views regarding gender. McConnell-Ginet’s close involvement in the development of language and gender studies highlights the important truth that a feminist perspective on language is not reserved for sociolinguistics—the research area that has been most closely linked to gender issues—but can and should be brought to bear on every subfield of linguistics.

McConnell-Ginet’s theoretical focus and acute political gaze have been strikingly consistent over the years. All of her feminist scholarship engages deeply with the issue of power, its diverse manifestations in language, and its consequences for the lives of women and men. Yet her research does not stop at identifying the workings of power. As an early feminist voice challenging essentialist perspectives on gender and language and advocating recognition of women’s linguistic and social agency, she paved the way for more nuanced and contextualized approaches that nevertheless remain centrally concerned with issues of equality and social justice.

McConnell-Ginet is a generous and broad-minded scholar who does not impose artificial boundaries in her pursuit of interesting and important questions. Her analytic scope ranges widely in these chapters, from lexical semantics to prosody to variationist sociolinguistics. What draws together this rich and diverse body of scholarship is her attention to the question of meaning, which has emerged as the key issue for much contemporary language and gender scholarship. The bulk of McConnellGinet’s research—both in language and gender studies and in formal . . .

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