LINGUIST List 27.1671

Mon Apr 11 2016

FYI: Call for Papers: Sex, Gender and Linguistic Taboo

Editor for this issue: Ashley Parker <>

Date: 08-Apr-2016
From: Carey Benom <>
Subject: Call for Papers: Sex, Gender and Linguistic Taboo
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Sex, Gender and Linguistic Taboo
Proposed forum at the 3rd International Conference of AMPRA, Nov 4-6, 2016, Indiana University

Deadline for submissions: April 14, 2016

The relationship between linguistic taboo and sex and/or gender is not unexplored, but despite recent advances, much remains unknown or poorly understood. Just a few decades ago, the leading, groundbreaking voice in the study of language and gender claimed that women did not use (strong) taboo words (Lakoff 1975/2004), though later research did not support this (e.g. Coates 2004, Eckert 2000, Vincent 1982). While more recent, data-driven research has improved our understanding of the connections between sex, gender, and taboo language, the picture is still far from complete, even for languages as well-studied as English. Additionally, factors such as the perceived strength and social connotations of taboo words and the cultural affordances or possibilities for the linguistic performance of gender are constantly changing, and therefore updating knowledge of current research is essential.

The aim of this panel is to elucidate the relationship between linguistic taboo and sex and/or gender based on data-driven, empirically sound approaches to analysis. We will focus primarily on four questions, all of which can be asked with respect to a single language or can be approached contrastively or typologically:

1) (Use by sex or gender) Do people of different sexes or genders employ taboo terms differently? We can ask this question with respect to the forms employed (i.e. which taboo terms are favored by which sex or gender?) or the functions elicited (e.g. do men and women use taboo terms for the same purposes? Do they employ the same usage types with similar frequencies?)

2) (Use referring to / talking about sex or gender) Do speakers employ different taboo terms or usage types when speaking about different sexes or genders? If so, which terms or categories of terms are used to label the sexes or genders, and which (categories of) terms are used in conjunction with these terms, e.g. to modify them?

3) (Perception based on sex or gender) To what extent, and in what ways, does the perception of the use of taboo terms depend on the gender or sex of the speaker of these terms, or that of the listener, or of any others present?

4) (Application to sex or gender) What linguistic taboos specifically apply to one sex or gender? For instance McCormick (2001) notes that in Mongolia and some parts of southern Africa, a wife cannot speak the name of her husband or his family, nor any similar-sounding words, though this taboo does not apply to husbands.

References cited:

Coates, Jennifer. 2004. Women, Men, and Language: A Sociolinguistic Account of Gender Differences in Language. Pearson Longman.

Eckert, Penelope. 2000. Linguistic Variation as Social Practice: The Linguistic Construction of Social Meaning in Belten High. Oxford: Blackwell.

Lakoff, Robin. 1975. Language and Woman’s Place. New York , Harper and Row

Vincent, Diane. 1982. Pressions et impressions sur les sacres au Qu´ebec. Quebec: Gouvernement du Qu´ebec, Office de la langue française.

Abstracts of 300 words or less are due by April 14 2016 (strict). They, as well as any questions regarding this panel, should be sent to the panel organiser:

Carey Benom
Kyushu University

Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics

Page Updated: 11-Apr-2016