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How Gender Shapes the World$
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Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198723752

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198723752.001.0001

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Manly women and womanly men: the effects of gender reversal

Manly women and womanly men: the effects of gender reversal

(p.99) 7 Manly women and womanly men: the effects of gender reversal
How Gender Shapes the World

Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the options of using the opposite Linguistic Gender in a variety of languages. Changes in Linguistic Gender assignment to humans may reflect role reversals in traditional jocular relationships. Gender reversals may be offensive, or carry overtones of praise, or may imply endearment and solidarity. Having masculine gender forms as a functionally ‘unmarked’ category can be understood as a token of ‘male dominance’. Alternatively, having masculine gender as a ‘special’, marked one may be understood as a token of special importance and particular ‘visibility’ of males in cultural practices. The choice of Linguistic Gender may reflect stereotypes and expectations associated with Social Gender and with Natural Gender. This is especially salient for humans with their defined social roles, and particularly so in languages whose speakers are aware of the meanings of genders.

Keywords:   Linguistic Gender, Social Gender, functional markedness, formal markedness, feminine, masculine, Hebrew, Arabic, Amharic

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