Investigating gendered language through collocation: the case of mock politeness

Taylor, Charlotte (2021) Investigating gendered language through collocation: the case of mock politeness. In: Angouri, Jo, Baxter, Judith and Unset (eds.) The Routledge handbook of language, gender and sexuality. Routledge handbooks in applied linguistics . Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon. ISBN 9781138200265

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This chapter makes use of the notion of collocation, a key concept in corpus linguistic work. Collocation refers to the tendency of certain words or phrases to occur together with other words and phrases. It is an important aspect of language because it gives us a way of understanding the associations that particular words or phrases may carry for language users. While collocation comes from corpus linguistics work, and as such pertains to a more quantitative approach to language studies, it has been extensively used in the sub-field which combines corpus linguistics and (critical) discourse analysis and sits astride the traditional qualitative/quantitative divide.
Collocation analysis gives a way into understanding how words and phrases are used, and the associations they trigger, which is essential to identifying the discourses that surround the representation of groups - a topic which is often of interest in research on language, gender and sexuality. I would argue that collocation can also be an important preparatory stage in variation studies in this area. That is to say, before we can ask who does x (most frequently), we need to know the full semantic and pragmatic profile of x to be sure that we are measuring what we intend. In the case of mock politeness, which is the focus of the case-study in this chapter, previous research regarding gender has tended to report that men are more likely than women to perform sarcasm and more likely to perform patronising behaviours in mixed-sex interactions. In this chapter, I aim to step back from these binary comparisons to question whether the terms sarcastic and patronising are themselves gendered. For instance, is there a tendency to use sarcastic to describe behaviour by a male speaker when a different label would have been applied to same behaviour if it had been performed by a female speaker?
The chapter starts by defining what is meant by collocation and how it can be investigated in studies of language, gender and sexuality, including some guidance for good practice in the area. The case-study is then presented in which collocation is employed to investigate sarcastic and patronising. The chapter ends with indications of future directions and recommendations for further reading for scholars interested in using collocation analysis to investigate the relationship between language, gender and sexuality.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: gender, mock politeness, pragmatics, collocation, corpus linguistics
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics > P0087 Communication. Mass media
Depositing User: Charlotte Taylor
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2019 09:23
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2022 01:00

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