LINGUIST List 2.470

Sat 07 Sep 1991

Disc: Professeure

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , Re: Queries
  2. , professeure
  3. bert peeters, professeure
  4. Patrick Drouin, Re: Queries
  5. , Re: Queries

Message 1: Re: Queries

Date: Tue, 03 Sep 91 19:41 PDT
From: <>
Subject: Re: Queries
to Koenraad de Smedt: "FORCED into existence by equal opportunity
pressures"? Really now! I was unaware of the use of 'professeure' but
it sounds to me like a good idea. Do you really feel you and others are
being forced? If so you must be resisting. Thus pressure had better
be brought.
And I am not one who thinks language is sexist or that changing language
can eradicate sexism -- language just reflects the sexism in society
but using a word like 'professeure' can help raise consciousness a little.
Then we wouldn't have PROFESSEURS saying things like "We will hire
anyone regardless of his sex" which was actually said by a Chair (who
of course happened to be a Chairman) at UCLA at a meeting on affirmative
Vicki Fromkin
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Message 2: professeure

Date: Tue, 03 Sep 91 20:54:34 CDT
Subject: professeure
I too noticed this feminine form yesterday on the job announcement.
I tried it out on a native (continental) French speaker in class
today - it was new to her too. Note that the ad came from Univer-
site' Laval in Canada: different neologisms. I *have* seen
`la professeur' in L'Express, the French (of France) news magazine,
and have read various articles on the problems with higher-level
professional terms. Even Grevisse (of _Bon Usage_ fame - THE
prescriptive Bible of French) wrote a couple of short papers which
appear in his _Proble`mes de langage_ in the 1950s about such
matters - he points out, for example, that la me`decine cannot be a female
physician since it is the name of the discipline and may even
consider le/la professeur somewhere in there.
 Margaret Winters
 Southern Illinois University
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Message 3: professeure

Date: Wed, 4 Sep 91 16:02:01 EST
From: bert peeters <>
Subject: professeure
> Date: Tue, 3 Sep 91 13:54 MET
> Subject: professeure
> In a recent job advertisement, we read:
> > Le Departement de langues et linguistique ouvre un concours pour un poste de
> > professeur ou de professeure en lexicographie. Le poste devra etre pourvu
> > le 1er juin 1992.
> I always thought 'professeur' covers both male and female. Indeed, my
> French dictionary does not contain 'professeure'. Has this word existed
> long or is it relatively new? Or was it forced into existence by equal
> opportunities pressure?
*Professeure* is Canadian French (the quote provided by Koenraad is part of
a job advertisement issued by a Canadian university). There is a strong
movement in Quebec to create new feminines where in standard (= French)
French one term is used for both males and females. No wonder it is not
in Koenraad's dictionary - you would have to consult a Canadian French
dictionary to find it. I'm not really sure how recent this tendency is. It
was already well established when I spent a fortnight at Laval in 1983 (at
least one paper presented at the conference which I attended actually dealt
with these new "Canadian feminines").
Dr Bert Peeters Tel: +61 02 202344
Department of Modern Languages 002 202344
University of Tasmania at Hobart Fax: 002 202186
GPO Box 252C
Hobart TAS 7001
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Message 4: Re: Queries

Date: Thu, 05 Sep 91 08:06:47 HAE
Subject: Re: Queries
 The word "professeure" has been used here in Que'bec for about 5 ou 6 years.
I don't know where it's origin are exactly but I would suspect that the
Office de la langue franc,aise has something to do with it. The OLF has been
working actively in this field in the last few years as did the Universite'
du Que'bec a Montr'eal (UQAM). However, the OLF and the UQAM did not start
the whole feminization movement since it has been in preparation in the general
public, here in Que'bec, for quite a while.
 The job offer I posted was transmitted to me from the De'partement de langues
et linguistique so I believe that they must use a terminology which is widely
accepted on campus. I know that the SPUL (the prof's union here at Laval) also
uses the combination "professeur/e" in its documents.
 The ending in "eure" is due to the fact that endings in "euse" usually
reflect (at least here in Que'bec) a blue-collar work situation while endings
in "eure" are usually linked to white-collar work situation.
 These are just my quick reflections on the subject and may not reflect the
ideas of the De'partement de langues et linguistique de L'Universite'
Laval where the job offer was written.
Patrick Drouin
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Message 5: Re: Queries

Date: Wed, 4 Sep 91 20:35 EDT
From: <TELLIERCCC.UMontreal.CA>
Subject: Re: Queries
In response to a query by Koenraad de Smedt re: professeure
"Professeur" still covers both male and female in France,though
not in Quebec since the advent of the -eure forms: commonly in use
in the academic circles are "professeure", "auteure", and I have
also seen "directeure". This is fairly recent, and stems from a
will to break the subtle but nonetheless real semantic shift which
up to now went along with the feminisation of a term: for instance,,
"directeur" could denote the head of an important firm, but "direc-
trice" sounds distinctly less prestigious, and mostly evokes the
direction of a high school. It is hoped that the systematic use
of the (new) feminine forms, especially when relatively presti-
gious jobs are involved, will neutralize these distinctions. The
question of course remains as to what to do with words such as
"medecin", "chef d'Etat", "prefet".
- Christine Tellier
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