Walking the straight and narrow: linguistic choice and gendered presentation

Hazenberg, Evan (2016) Walking the straight and narrow: linguistic choice and gendered presentation. Gender and Language, 10 (2). pp. 270-294. ISSN 1747-6321

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Abstract

The social category of gender is often considered binary in linguistic research, but this division glosses over the myriad identities within the broad categories of 'masculine' and 'feminine'. It also ignores the gendered experiences of participants, particularly transsexuals, for whom language is an important signal of identity. Two sociolinguistic variables (adjectival intensification and the phonetic production of [s]) are used to explore the linguistic construction of gender within a corpus of straight, queer, and transsexual speakers in Ottawa, Canada. Both variables emerge as sites for social identity work, suggesting that speakers with the most to lose practice a kind of linguistic conservatism. Straight men, who run the risk of losing the enormous social capital associated with heteronormative masculinity, take pains to avoid sounding gay or effeminate. Transsexuals, who risk both emotional and physical repercussions should their gender identities be questioned, aim for a safer middle ground.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: English, gender, transsexual, variation
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women > HQ0012 Sexual life > HQ0075 Homosexuality. Lesbianism
H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women > HQ0012 Sexual life > HQ0077.7 Transexualism
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Depositing User: Evan Hazenberg
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2018 09:12
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 15:21
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/76735

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