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Review of  Language and Gender


Reviewer: Gabriela Iuliana Colipca
Book Title: Language and Gender
Book Author: Jane Sunderland
Publisher: Routledge (Taylor and Francis)
Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics
Book Announcement: 17.3282

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Review:
Announced in http://linguistlist.org/issues/17/17-704.html
AUTHOR: Sunderland, Jane
TITLE: Language and Gender
SUBTITLE: An Advanced Resource Book
SERIES: Routledge Applied Linguistics
PUBLISHER: Routledge (Taylor and Francis)
YEAR: 2006


Reviewer: Gabriela Iuliana Colipcă, Department of English, Dunărea de Jos
University of Galaţi, Romania


Part of a highly prestigious advanced resource book collection published by
Routledge, Jane Sunderland's Language and Gender provides its readers –
students and researchers alike – a comprehensive survey of research in the
interdisciplinary field of language and gender studies with a specific aim
at encouraging them to raise questions, to learn how to theorize their
experience and to put forth original contributions that might successfully
break new ground in the field. That makes it particularly appropriate for
use in courses and seminar programmes addressing upper undergraduate, but
also postgraduate students as well as for pursuing individual research
goals in the case of teachers and researchers working in Sociolinguistics,
Applied Linguistics, Women's Studies, or even in Literature, Language
Education and Psychology in higher-education institutional contexts. Its
structure is designed so as to both fit into the three-fold sequential
pattern characteristic of the series and to foreground the key aspects
related to gender and language which are dealt with theoretically and
practically. The ten units of each of the three sections – namely
Introduction (Section A), Extension (Section B) and Exploration (Section C)
– focus in turn on Background, Gender, Language and Research covering the
following topics:

Part 1 Background, comprising:

- early work on gender and language (Unit 1)
- the influence of feminism and feminist linguistics (a) (Unit 2)
- the influence of feminism and feminist linguistics (b) (Unit 3).

Part 2 Gender, comprising:

- developing understandings of gender (Unit 4).

Part 3 Language, comprising:

- developing understandings of language: language change (Unit 5)
- developing understandings of language: context (Unit 6)
- developing understandings of language: discourse and discourses (Unit 7).

Part 4 Research, comprising:

- approaches to gender and language research (Unit 8)
- data and data sites (Unit 9)
- written texts (Unit 10). (p. xx)

To be more specific, the key terms and concepts related to each of these
topics and pertaining to different disciplinary as well as different
theoretical and methodological traditions within the framework of the
gender and language field are first established against a synchronically
and diachronically presented research background (Section A), that is then
clarified by means of 'quotations' from 'classic' and influential texts
(Section B) and finally used as a starting point for the development of
research competencies by the careful contextualisation of a large number of
tasks requiring either desk or field research and often laying stress on
World Wide Web search and publication (Section C).


SUMMARY

In dealing with the first topic that is 'Early work on gender and
language,' Jane Sunderland starts by drawing the attention, in Unit A1, to
the earliest contributions in the field which appear to have 'dressed' in
academic 'clothes' certain pre-existing folk-linguistic beliefs – enclosed
in proverbs, drawn on in literary works, then institutionalised in
etiquette books – regarding the negative representation and evaluation of
women's talk. Otto Jespersen's 1922 description of gender differences in
talk as well as the more serious empirical fieldwork-based study of
'sex-exclusive' linguistic features in Koasati by Mary Haas (1944) are made
special reference to in this respect, the latter being even partly
reproduced for further reading in Unit B1. The diachronic presentation of
the early days of gender and language studies continues then by pointing
out the growing interest in the 'sex-preferential' tendencies in style
shifting of sociolinguists like William Labov (1966) and Peter Trudgill
(1972), who put forth the idea – later subject of feminine critique (e.g.
Deborah Cameron 1992) – of the close connection, in the case of women who
are more status conscious than men, between linguistic variation and
'prestige.' A further step in the pre- or non-feminist empirical study of
the gender – language relation here dealt with is represented by the
contributions of Susan Gal (1978), Anne Bodine (1975) and Lesley Milroy
(1980). Gal and Bodine are mentioned in Section A, the former for having
anticipated in her studies the later key notion of Community of Practice
(CofP), the latter for having made the important point that not only the
sex of the speaker should be considered, but also that of the addressee and
even that of the 'spoken about.' Milroy is paid more attention to in
Section B which includes several extracts from her 1980 study introducing
the concept of social network and providing an interesting methodological
approach based on 'relative multiplexity' and the 'density of personal
networks', that she used to challenge 'the stereotype of women's greater
status consciousness.' (p. 88)

As the study of the relations between gender and language has witnessed a
considerable development with the rise of the feminist movement in the
Western countries, the next topic is naturally 'The influence of feminism
and feminist linguistics,' dealt with in two distinct sets of units laying
stress on distinct approaches that dominated the field at different phases
of feminism: the 'deficit approach' and the '(male) dominance approach,' on
the one hand, and the '(cultural) difference approach,' on the other hand.
Considering some of the consequences of the so-called 'second wave of
Women's Movement' of the late 1960s and of the 1970s, Jane Sunderland first
points back, in Unit A2, to a number of feminist works which, focusing on
items like 'Mr. / Mrs.,' 'chairman,' 'spokesman,' the generics 'he' and
'man,' etc., described language as 'sexist', as an instrument of degrading
and stereotyping women, of rendering them 'invisible.'(p. 11) Hence, the
urge to promote non-sexist items in institutional codes of practice,
grammars and dictionaries, even if, as Sunderland rightfully comments, they
were but 'alternatives to, rather than replacements for, sexist language
items.' (p. 12) It is in this context that the first outstanding studies on
gender and language were published, chief among which Robin Lakoff's
Language and Woman's Place (1975) and Dale Spender's Man Made Language
(1980). Their pioneering work regarding 'sexist language' and 'gender
differences in language use' (p. 94) is briefly presented in Unit A2,
where, besides pinpointing the characteristic features of the two
approaches they introduced – the 'deficit' approach and the '(male)
dominance' approach –, reference is made to the critical reactions to their
findings by later generations of gender and language researchers. The
readers are, furthermore, given the opportunity of passing their own
judgments on Lakoff's and Spender's already 'classic' texts. They have
direct access, in Unit B2, to at least several extracts from the former's
original introspection-based study on the gender-related aspects of
language use (such as the generic 'he' as a form of pronominal
neutralization in English or the use of tag questions, perceived, as a
result of Lakoff's somewhat ignoring their complexity of meaning, as
indicators of women's lack of confidence) as well as from the latter's
interpretation, against the background of previous research, of men's and
women's understandings of the 'generic he' and 'generic man'. The same unit
B2 also allows to acquire further knowledge of this early stage in the
development of gender and language studies by enclosing, next to the above
mentioned extracts, an important part of Pamela Fishman's article
'Interaction: the work women do' (1983) that attempts a though problematic
application of the methodological approach of conversation analysis (CA)
for the study of male-female power relations (in particular within the
marital relations framework) in order to show, on the basis of
interactional strategies investigation, that women do much of the necessary
work of interaction in conversation (which accounts for Fishman often being
cited along other '(male) dominance' theorists).

Nevertheless, at another phase of feminism, the '(male) dominance'
tradition is challenged, even accused of 'representing women as passive and
as victims and of using women's ''subordination'' as a complete and
''pan-contextual'' explanation for characteristics of mixed-sex talk.' (p.
19) That is why, Jane Sunderland proceeds to introduce in Unit A3 the
'(cultural) difference' approach, defined as 'the moment of feminist
celebration, reclaiming and revaluing women's cultural traditions' (see
Cameron 1995b: 39), in the rise of which Daniel Maltz and Ruth Borker seem
to have played an important part. Due tribute is paid to their contribution
by the introduction in Unit B2 of large excerpts from their 1982 article,
'A cultural approach to male-female miscommunication,' that Sunderland
prefaces with a detailed discussion of the basic thesis, of the structure
and of the research background, to leave then the original 'speak for
itself' regarding the two researchers' appropriation of Gumperz's model of
interethnic communication in order to explain male-female communication on
account of men and women belonging to different subcultures promoting
different speech habits.

Focus shifts in Units A4, B4 and C4 to the developing understandings of one
of the two poles of the relationship examined in the book, namely the
concept of gender. Having already discussed the impact of the '(male)
dominance' and '(cultural) difference' approaches in the context of the
rise of different feminisms, the author insists more on the rejection of
the binary notion of gender, specific to these approaches, in favour of the
post-structuralism influenced understandings of 'gender as identity, and
identity as multiple, fluctuating and continually being constructed' (p.
22), implicitly related to the notion of discourse. To convincingly sustain
the idea of contextual fluctuation of gender meanings, she analyses in Unit
A4 a number of gender collocations extracted from more corpora (especially
from MICASE), showing how meaning evolves from gender as 'a set of
male/female differences' to gender as 'performed/ enacted/ displayed
differences or tendencies' providing 'a new set of ways of viewing the
social and linguistic practices of women and men.' (p. 27) More food for
thought in this respect is also given by the introduction in Unit B4 of
extracts from Deborah Cameron (1992), quoted for her substantial critique
of the exploration of sex differences in language use in a feminist
context, and from Mary Bucholtz (1999), commenting on transgressive
identities, their discursive representations and the way they are
approached in language and gender scholarship. The influence of
post-structuralism on the study of gender and language is further expanded
upon, with an emphasis on the constitutive nature of discourse and the need
for self-reflexivity – illustrated in Cynthia Nelson's (2002) or Judith
Butler's (1990, 1999, 2004) contributions to queer theory or Judith
Baxter's development of new methodological approaches like
post-structuralist discourse analysis (PDA) and feminist post-structuralist
discourse analysis (FPDA) (2003). By consulting the extracts included in
Unit B4, readers may better understand what queer theory is about, how it
has challenged lesbian and gay studies and problematized their conception
of sexual identity proposing instead the notion of performativity and a
'heterosexual/ homosexual binary' by which sexual identities are defined,
or how queer theory can be applied, owing to its inquiry-based nature, to
language education. As for Judith Butler's ground-breaking work, better
insight into it is provided by Task C4.9 in Section C (p. 260). Given the
post-structuralist aim at 'opening up' conceptions of gender beyond
'heteronormative' underpinnings (p. 28), Sunderland could not round off her
overview of understandings of gender without also investigating the
relationship between sex and gender, on the one hand, and gender, language
and power, on the other hand. Her own ideas regarding the ways in which an
analyst could separate gender from sex in her/ his thinking supplement
Deborah Cameron's (1996).

The next three units in each of the three sections are dedicated to the
exploration of language issues, to be more specific of language change,
context and discourse/ discourses. The same diachronically conceived
presentation of the shifts from one stage in the development of language
and gender studies to another is looked upon from a slightly different
perspective so as to point out, above all, the effects of what the author
calls 'early feminist challenges to the sexist nature of various aspects of
(the English) language (particularly in the 1970s), and more recent
feminist and post-structuralist challenges to those early challenges.' (p.
33) Unit A5 brings back to the readers' attention the 1970s-1980s
contestation of 'sexist' terms that led to their documentation in certain
institutional 'codes of practice', though, as Sunderland emphasises again,
they remained mere alternatives to sexist terms. The most ambitious
initiative of the early wave of feminism-influenced researchers, the
non-sexist American Heritage School Dictionary (published in 1972 as a
result of a project initiated in 1969) is particularly enlarged upon and
Unit B5, extensively quoting from Alma Graham's 1975 article 'The making of
a non-sexist dictionary', provides the readers more insight into the way in
which it was conceived with the aim of 'restoring the gender balance' and
determining – hopefully – the public at large to use certain words with
greater care. The 'linguistic turn' (p. 39) brought about by the influence
of post-structuralism and of the 'third wave' of feminism on account of
meaning being 'radically contextual' (Cameron 1992: 192) and strongly
dependent on the addressee's response is reflected in Sara Mills's paper
'Changes in sexist language use' (2006), quoted from in Unit B5, which
reinforces the idea – sustained by Sunderland as well – that context and
linguistic phenomena like irony, for example, obviously impose limitations
on the value of non-sexist items. That is what actually gives the
difference between formally implementing non-sexist language change and the
actual usage of non-sexist language and of progressive forms of which
people might have become aware, but towards which they might still hold
different attitudes. A good case in point is 'Ms.' that Juliane Schwarz
(2003) studies to assess women's ability of conceptualising non-sexist
language items.

As the importance of context has been repeatedly emphasised, in Unit A6,
Sunderland tries to cast a new light on the concept by applying Dell
Hymes's model of SPEAKING (setting – participants – ends – act sequence –
key – instrumentalities – norms – genre) thus paving the way for the
introduction in Section B of three perspectives on it. Firstly, the
presentation of context as extending to 'the wider social practices
surrounding the use (or 'consumption') of a written text' (p. 44) occasions
the introduction of an excerpt from a study carried out by a team Jane
Sunderland herself was a member of (2002), centred on the 'talk around the
text' methodology in order to identify different ways in which teachers
deal with 'gender critical points' throughout the lesson (irrespective of
the nature of the gender representation in the text, whether progressive or
traditional). Secondly, context is looked upon within the framework of the
more detailed discussion of an already referred to key notion for gender
and language study i.e. community of practice (CofP), clearly defined by
Penelope Eckert and Sally McConnell-Ginet (1992). Thirdly, to illustrate
context in its broadest understanding as culture, Sunderland proposes for
more thorough examination the case of a South-African culture-specific
linguistic practice called hlonipha, written about by Puleng Hanong Thetela
(2002, 2006). Her analysis of police interviews of rape victims underlines
the asymmetry of the power relations between men and women that becomes
manifest in their access or lack of access to discourse (the explicitness
and precision of the legal system versus the constraints of women's
hlonipha culture).

Such references to context in the light of different culture-specific
discursive practices ensure the smooth passage to the exploration, in Unit
A7, of the wide range of meanings of discourse: from the narrowest,
strictly linguistic one to the broadest, implying, besides linguistic
'traces', knowledge and certain social practices. Sunderland argues in
favour of the latter, commenting upon the constitutive nature of discourse,
and uses the results of her previous scholarly experience in the field –
enclosed in her book entitled Gendered Discourses (2004) – to reinforce her
main line of argumentation. The first extract in Unit B7 focuses precisely
on setting in very clear terms the constitutive potential of discourses
comprising linguistic traces, but also 'social actors' and 'social action',
while the case study it encloses is illustrative for the author's interest
in the categorization of discourses – into descriptive discourses, on the
one hand, and interpretative general or gendered discourses, on the other –
and the discussion of the different possible approaches to discourse.
Details concerning the prominent features of intertextuality,
intratextuality or even contradictions ('ideological dilemmas') of
discourses become more salient as a result of the author's applying the
critical discourse analysis approach (CDA) to several newspaper articles on
wedding organisation, in the first B7 extract, and on 'celebrity
fatherhood,' in the second. Of course, CDA is not the only theoretical
approach to discourse that present-day research in the gender and language
study field looks upon as being a viable option. Unit A7 (and not only)
provides a much longer list of theoretical approaches to discourse
including, among others, conversation analysis (CA), critical discourse
analysis (CDA), discursive psychology and feminist post-structuralist
discourse analysis (FPDA). Yet, the author seems to suggest that, for the
identification and the systematic study of 'gendered discourses,' CDA and
FPDA would be the most appropriate as they see such discoursal
representations/ constructions of women and men as 'subject positioning'
the individuals / groups concerned. (p. 53) As the illustration of the way
CDA functions is to be found in the excerpts selected from her own previous
work, the stress laid on FPDA turns out a perfect opportunity for her to go
back to Judith Baxter's contribution (2003), which she quotes fragmentarily
in Unit B7 in order to help her readers better grasp the FPDA principles
(i.e. self-reflexivity; a deconstructionist post-structuralist 'advocacy of
textual interplay' and the commitment to a feminist focus.)

In the last three-unit set of each section in the book, Jane Sunderland
actually continues to enlarge upon the various ways of approaching topics
related to the interdisciplinary gender and language field of study both
theoretically (resorting to CA, CDA, corpus linguistics, FPDA, discursive
psychology, etc.) and methodologically (using introspection,
sociolinguistic surveys, focus groups, observation, collection/ analysis of
data, etc.). The particular development of corpus linguistics and the more
and more extensive use to which it seems to be put in research projects in
the field (often in association with other approaches like CDA, for
instance) determines her to offer more information on the methodologies
subsumed to it, on its functions and utility at first in Unit A8, then in
Unit B8, where, for practical illustration, she quotes from an article by
Paul Rayson, Geoffrey Leech and Mary Hodges (1997) investigating 'social
differentiation in the use of English vocabulary through the spoken English
sub-corpus of the British National Corpus' (p. 179), and finally in the
tasks in Unit C8. At this point, however, considering the gradual
paradigmatic shifts in the 'history' of gender and language as a field of
study and the variety of approaches and methodologies used, Sunderland
cannot ignore the following questions raising against a feminism-oriented
background: Which particular approach or methodology is more
(in)appropriate? What should be the relation between the researchers and
the research participants? It is in this context that she compares the
suitability of CDA, FPDA and CA and presents, even if briefly, the three
positions referred to as 'ethics', 'advocacy' and 'empowerment' (p. 61). As
the relationship between CA, in particular, and feminism has been often
questioned, the author finds it proper to include in Unit B8 two extracts
regarding it. Of a more theoretical nature, Elizabeth Stokoe and Janet
Smithson's work (2001) defends the argument according to which, though
problematic for feminist research, CA may be 'a useful tool for making
claims about gender which are grounded in speakers' orientations' (p. 186)
conveyed by explicit and/or implicit references or indexes. Celia
Kitzinger's (2000) also maintains the possibility of adapting CA to serve
feminist purposes, yet it lays more stress on the practical aspect, showing
how CA techniques may be applied to gain a better understanding – from a
feminist perspective, of course – of how 'coming out' (with its
implications for sexual identity) is achieved and reacted to.

That the choice of a certain approach and/ or methodology is often
implicitly related to the type of data and data sites investigated is
particularly emphasised in Units A9, B9 and C9, respectively. The
categorization of data types acquires, hence, particular importance and
Unit A9 details the features and functions of naturally occurring data,
collected through the observation of gendered (linguistic) behaviour, and
of elicited data, revealing 'understandings' of gender (perceptions,
attitudes, feelings, beliefs, intentions, reasons, etc.) through
questionnaires, focus groups, accounts, diaries or stimulated recall.
Equally important is the choice of fruitful epistemological sites and
Sunderland traces back the changes in their selection paralleling the shift
from one dominant paradigm to another: from private, mixed-sex conversation
associated with the '(male) dominance' model to the talk of single-sex
groups preferred in the '(cultural) difference' model and, eventually, to
CofPs and a wide range of written texts, public contexts, etc. that allow
focusing on discourse(s), gender identity, construction and performance.
Drawing the readers' attention to the necessity of solidly motivating the
choice of the epistemological site (and of the data to be analysed as
well), she also takes care to distinguish between: material (genre-related)
epistemological sites and conceptual epistemological sites (though they
often overlap and/ or combine); 'traditional gender' and 'non-traditional
gender' sites; and, finally, considering the broader sense of events as
epistemological sites, 'representative'('typical') and 'telling'
('unrepresentative, atypical') cases. Paving the way for practical
applications involving the study of different epistemological sites (see
Unit C9), Unit B9 both fixes many of the previously discussed aspects and
provides an example of successful analysis by introducing Nigel Edley's
exploration, within the discursive psychology framework, of the broad
conceptual epistemological site of masculinity – defined as a culturally
determined 'discursive accomplishment' the performance of which may become
habitual or routinized – and of key concepts related to it, i.e.
interpretative repertoires, ideological dilemmas and subject positions (2001).

If the sample of discoursal analysis in Unit B9 and the further practice
tasks in Unit C9 lay the stress on the evaluation and interpretation of
spoken data, the final set of units, A10, B10 and C10, looks at written
texts as epistemological sites. Sunderland points out the extent to which
certain particular categories of texts – such as language textbooks,
dictionaries, literary texts (here including children's books), newspaper/
magazine articles and advertisements – have turned out extremely fruitful
at different phases in the development of the gender and language field of
study. The second extract in Unit B10, taken from Bronwyn Davies's book
Frogs and Snails and Feminist Tales (1989), focusing on young children's
understandings of gender and of its peculiar constructions in feminist
fairy tales, adds to the long list of cases of written text analysis used
for different demonstrational purposes in other extracts included in this
resource book. Furthermore, the author comments on the benefits of
multi-modality analysis which presupposes the investigation of an
association of written and spoken words or of written words and visuals.
Joanna Thornborrow's examination, mainly in linguistic terms, of gender
positions in advertising (1994), based on a comparative approach to two
Filofax advertisements (one aimed at women, the other aimed at men), is a
perfect illustration of the way words – often in association with
appropriately chosen images – may contribute to the reinforcement of
behavioural stereotypes. That is why it is quoted as a representative case
in Unit B10. Special reference is also made to a relatively new form of
written text that is computer-mediated communication (CMC) – here including
e-mail texts, internet discussion sites, chat rooms, Instant Messenger,
etc. – which may serve as a fruitful epistemological site for the study of
'gender differences' and identity construction. Unit B10 provides as an
illustration Mary Bucholtz's 2002 article on 'geek feminism' as a variety
of cyberfeminism brought into discussion in chat rooms, while Unit C10
includes, among other tasks, the exploration of CMC and e-mail jokes about
gender and gender relations. The investigation of texts as epistemological
sites is finally taken as far as considering toys, for example, as texts
(Task C10. 16 in Unit C10), paving thus the way for a wider range of
applications in the gender and language field.


EVALUATION

Jane Sunderland's resource book has a complex, yet clearly organised
structure. On the one hand, for a better understanding of the main concerns
of language and gender as an interdisciplinary field of study, the author
groups them in what she calls four distinct parts, Background, Gender,
Language and Research to which she consistently sticks in passing from one
section to another, thus ensuring the coherence of her approach. On the
other hand, as the book has been obviously designed to serve didactic
purposes, its three sections enable the readers to build up solid
theoretical knowledge and then put it effectively into practice in solving
a number of tasks.

Drawing on an impressive bibliographical list, the ten units of the first
section summarize the findings of some of the most important studies which
have marked the development of research regarding the language-gender
relations, discuss paradigmatic shifts in theory and present evidence to
support the main line of argumentation. Though one might not expect this
overview of understandings of key concepts like gender, context, discourse
etc. and of the wide range of approaches to them to be highly innovative,
the author manages to give it an original touch by adding personal comments
on the strengths and/ or weaknesses of certain theories, by using inventive
practical analysis exercises to make her point (as it is the case of her
subtly deducing the varied meanings of gender from her analysis of gender
collocates, for example – pp. 24-7) and by establishing from the very
beginning a close connection with her readers whom she offers a
though-provoking reading constantly marked by challenging follow-up and/ or
reflection tasks. There are a few inadvertences in this section – e.g.
though announced as being of outmost importance, Maltz and Borker's
contribution is rather superficially mentioned in Unit A3 (pp. 18-20) –,
but they are made up for by the introduction of extensive quotations in the
B Units and of reading tasks in the C Units. (There is but one case which
perhaps could still have been better handled, namely that of Janet Holmes'
contribution. Despite her being mentioned together with J. Coates and D.
Tannen among the '(cultural) difference' approach representatives, she is
no longer referred to either in Unit B3 or in Unit C3 and further
references to her work in other units also fail to cast more light on her
work.)

The second section (B) gives the readers access to extracts from several
original studies already referred to in section A or drawing on and
sustaining some of the previously introduced viewpoints. The extracts are
well set in their research context by means of preliminary and final
comments by Jane Sunderland, presenting, on the one hand, the general
structure of the works they are taken from, discussing the main research
goals and research methods applied, and, on the other hand, reinforcing the
conclusions reached and establishing links with other previous and/or
subsequent studies in the field that either develop on their strengths or
critique their weaknesses. It is true that, in certain cases, Jane
Sunderland chooses to refrain from any final comments; yet their absence is
also part of her strategy meant to provoke the readers to engage critically
with the text, a strategy which mainly relies on the numerous 'Before you
read,' 'While you read' and 'After you've read' tasks.

The third section (C) displays a wide range of well-developed tasks,
implying, in most of the cases, several steps, often including further
reading, interview taping, transcribing and analyzing data, as well as
writing tasks the results of which the students are encouraged to post on
the Gender and Language web site. As a matter of fact, that the readers
should use internet sources for their individual research and make then
their research known on the internet appears (to me at least) to be one of
the most noteworthy practical suggestions put forth in this book.

Again, one could spot in section C certain shortcomings. For instance, one
peculiar task in C1 (pp. 231-2) plays on the notion of 'accommodation' put
forth by Giles and Coupland (1991), which is not introduced and /or
discussed in any of the A1 or B1 corresponding sections. Of course, this
might not raise serious difficulties as the readers of the book might be
familiar with the notion from their previous readings in sociolinguistics
(or following the requirements under step 1, they might find out more in
this respect by doing research on their own); yet, it might appear somewhat
problematic, leaving them in the impossibility of establishing connections
with the rest of the issues presented under the topic 'Early work on gender
and language.' Task C3.6 (p. 251) brings forward, for the first time in the
book, Beattie's framework that readers should apply for the analysis of
'successful speaker switches'. Indeed, they are suggested, from the very
first steps of the task, to read later studies of gender and overlapping
speech, Beattie's here included; yet, it might also have been useful to
provide, at least in a nutshell, basic information about this
methodological approach (as Sunderland did in the case of the transcription
system, for instance, – see pp. 226-7) thus helping the readers better
understand and then apply it practically in solving the respective task.
Then, even if three of the four steps of Task C8.11 (p. 297) require
further reading on discursive psychology, giving thus the readers the
opportunity to get familiar with it in detail, it is still somewhat awkward
to find a task focused on this approach in Unit 8 although the author's
theoretical presentation and extract selection regarding it are included in
Units A9 and B9. (As a matter of fact, the author realized it and felt
compelled to justify her choice in a few words.) Finally, there is a small
inadvertence affecting the structure of Task C9.3 (pp. 302-3) in which step
four seems to be completely missing. Nevertheless, the number of such cases
is so small that it cannot overshadow the merits of the rest. Most of the
tasks in Section C help establish useful links with the theoretical
background as presented in Sections A and B, require further readings to
enable the readers enlarge the scope of their knowledge, encourage the
practice of different methodological approaches for the investigation of
more numerous epistemological sites and provide suggestions for new
individual or team research projects. Furthermore, another praiseworthy
aspect is that, though most of the tasks presuppose the study of gender
representations in English, there are some by means of which Jane
Sunderland tries to raise interest in and to stimulate research in gender
constructions in other languages as well. Readers are provided with models
in this respect by the already quoted articles by M. Haas on Koasati and by
P. Hanong Thetela on Southern African linguistic patterns, as well as by
the numerous sources on gendered Japanese indicated for further reading on
pp. 270-1.

Sometimes, there occur little inadvertences between the references as
preceding the extracts from Section B and, respectively, as given in the
final bibliographical list: different publishing houses mentioned – e.g. on
p. 94 Robin Lakoff's study is said to be published by Colophon Books, but
in the bibliographical list the publishing house mentioned is Harper &
Row.; different places of publication – e.g. in the case of Joanna
Thornborrow's article, Section B mentions as the place of publication Hemel
Hempstead, whereas the bibliographical list indicates instead London; the
editors are not mentioned in the bibliographical list reference in the case
of Mary Bucholtz's article 'Geek feminism'; a full reference is omitted
from the final bibliographical list, namely that to A. Graham's article;
and the reference to S. Mills's article 'Changes in sexist language use' is
not given in full in Unit B5 and missing from the final bibliographical list.

Nonetheless, I have to stress out that these small imperfections do not
diminish in the least the qualities of Jane Sunderland's resource book
which is well-documented, comprehensive, user-friendly and challenging.
Therefore, I highly recommend it for both teaching and research purposes.


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Bucholtz M. (1999) 'Bad examples: transgression and progress in language
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_____ (2002) 'Geek feminism,' in S. Benor et al. (eds) Gendered Practices
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ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER


Gabriela Iuliana Colipcă is Senior Lecturer at the Department of English of
"Dunărea de Jos" University of Galaţi, Romania. She currently teaches
English literature and style in fiction. Her research interests are
comparative literature, literary criticism, cultural studies, and gender
studies.


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