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Feminist language reform


Feminist language reform or feminist language planning refers to the effort, often of political and grassroots movements, to change how language is used to gender people, activities and ideas on an individual and societal level. This initiative has been adopted in countries such as Sweden, Switzerland and Australia, and has been tentatively linked to higher gender equality.

Linguistic activism and feminist authorship stemming from Second Wave Feminism in the 1960s and 70s began to draw attention to gender bias in language, including "the uncovering of the gendered nature of many linguistic rules and norms". Scholarship such as Dennis Baron's "Grammar and Gender" and Anne Bodine's "Androcentrism in Prescriptive Grammar" uncovered historical male regulation to promote male-centric language such as the use of "he" as a generic pronoun. In certain cases the reaction to proposed non-sexist language use often relied on Ad Hominem arguments, calling into question the author's linguistic expertise instead of disproving their theories.

Exposition and analysis of sexism in language through a grassroots feminist linguistics movement continued throughout the 80's and 90's, including study across languages and speech communities such as Germany and France. Study and documentation of gendered language has since spread to cover over 30 languages.

Feminist Language Planning has more recently been instituted centrally in countries such as Sweden, Switzerland and Australia, with mixed results.



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Wikipedia

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