LINGUIST List 6.1103

Mon Aug 14 1995

Disc: Sexism and Language

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <>


  1. Alexis Manaster Ramer, Sexism and Language

Message 1: Sexism and Language

Date: Mon, 14 Aug 1995 13:42:22 Sexism and Language
From: Alexis Manaster Ramer <amrCS.Wayne.EDU>
Subject: Sexism and Language

Re Lydie E. Meunier's latest, I did not mean to say that I consider
oppression of any kind to be of no importance, but merely that in
studying linguistic usages it is of no importance (or at least less
importance, OK?) what the real situation re oppression and the like
is than what people perceive it to be. If (as some seem to believe)
there is no oppression of women by men, I meant to say, that would not
be what we would want to know in order to explain sexist language, so
long as people believe that men are better, stronger, or whatever,
so long as people believe that men are and deserve to be dominant
and/or more prominent in public life, etc. Because even if these
things were not true (although I think by large they obviously are),
so long as people believe they are (and certainly all cultures I
am familiar with do), then that would suffice to explain sexist

In the same way, we as linguists need not discuss the existence
of God in order to be able to say that certain linguistic
usages seem to be derived from such a belief.

So, yes, I do believe women have been and continue to be oppressed
in various ways, I am astounded that there are people who would
deny it, but I also would say that in order to explain sexist
language, that is not what we need to discuss.

Alexis Manaster Ramer
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