Latest Issue: Vol 11, No 1 (2017) RSS2 logo

Gender and Language

Carmen Rosa Caldas-Coulthard
University of Birmingham, United Kingdom and Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil

Tommaso M. Milani
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

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Cecilia Chiacchio
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About the Journal

There are many journals focused on gender and many devoted to language. Most of these sometimes publish articles on language and gender. There is, however, currently no single scholarly journal to which those interested in gender and language can turn as contributors looking for an audience sharing their focus or as readers seeking a reliable source for on-going discussions in the field. Gender and Language fills the gap by offering an international forum for research on and debates about feminist research on gender and language.Gender and Language showcases research on femininities and masculinities, on heterosexual and queer identities, on gender at the level of individual performance or perception and on gender at the level of institutions and ideologies.

As a point of departure, Gender and Language defines gender along two key dimensions. First, gender is a key element of social relationships often loosely linked to perceived differences between the sexes. Gender relations are encoded in linguistic and symbolic representations, normative concepts, social practices, institutions and social identities. Second, gender is a primary arena for articulating power, intersecting in complex ways with other axes of inequality, like class, race, and sexuality. Gender is understood as multi-faceted, always changing, and often contested: the editors welcome discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of competing definitions of gender and of new analytical perspectives.

The journal encourages discussion and debate about the implications of different definitions of gender and different approaches to analyzing the production and interpretation of texts and speech. It welcomes research employing a range of linguistic approaches (e.g. conversation analysis, discourse and text analysis, ethnography of communication, pragmatics, variationist sociolinguistics, interactional sociolinguistics, stylistics) and from a variety of disciplines, including linguistics, anthropology, women and gender studies, education, philosophy, psychology, folklore, sociology, communication studies, queer studies, literary and cultural studies, as it aims to foster interdisciplinary discussion and dialogue among these disciplines.


Forthcoming Issue

GAL 11.2 (2017)

Table of Contents

The Playful and Gendered use of Insults and Criticisms in Romantic Couple’s Everyday Banter
Neill Korobov

Acadamy of Devotion: Performing status, hierarchy, and masculinity on reality TV
Cindi SturtzSreetharan

An exploratory review of gender ideologies and sexism in the Ga language
Benedicta Adokarley Lomotey

‘You are stupid, you are cupid’: playful polyphony as a resource for affectionate expression in the talk of a young London couple
Pia Pichler

Emerging Genders: Semiotic Agency and the Performance of Gender among Genderqueer Individuals
Anna Corwin


Publication Frequency
four issues a year from 2017
ISSN: 1747-6321 (print)
ISSN: 1747-633X (online)

Abstracting & Indexing
The journal is covered by:

  • Social Sciences Citation Index/Social Scisearch Impact Factor 2015 = 0.267©       
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  • Scopus Abstract and Citation Database  H-Index: 3 (2015); SJR: .159
  • Linguistics Abstracts
  • Educational Research Abstracts Online
  • MLA Bibliography
  • Bibliography of Linguistic Literature (BIBL)
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  • Linguistics and Language Behaviour Abstracts
  • Feminist Periodicals: A Current Listing of Contents
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    Most Viewed Articles


    Do bodies matter? Travestis' embodiment of (trans)gender identity through the manipulation of the Brazilian Portuguese grammatical gender system

    This study investigates Southern Brazilian travestis’ manipulation of gender identity through the manipulation of the Portuguese grammatical gender system. We argue that
    the embodiment of feminine features onto biologically male bodies enables travestis to wander through various ideologies about masculinity and femininity and incorporate these ideologies in their linguistic construction of identity. Travestis use masculine forms to refer to themselves or other travestis when: (1) producing narratives about the time before their body transformations took place; (2) reporting speech produced by others when talking about travestis; (3) talking about themselves within their family relationships; and, perhaps the most unveiling category, (4) distinguishing
    themselves from ‘other’ travestis they do not identify with – a face-saving strategy. Thus, the study shows how southern Brazilian travestis use the grammatical gender
    system in Portuguese as a linguistic resource to manipulate their identity/ies and the identity/ies of the community they belong to.
    Posted: 2007-01-18More...

    Zuiqian 'deficient mouth': Discourse, gender and domestic violence

    This article examines the relationship between language, gender and domestic violence.
    Contextualizing the study of domestic violence in China, this article focuses
    its analysis on a metapragmatic discourse on domestic violence – zuiqian ‘deficient
    mouth’ in a working-class community in Beijing. It argues that the discourse of zuiqian,
    by blaming women’s mouths and their ‘deviant’ speaking styles, individualizes
    the serious social problem of domestic violence and downplays the structural force
    that causes male violence. By fragmenting women and regulating their mouths, the
    discourse of zuiqian serves as an anatomic mode of power (anatomo-politics) for the
    state to discipline women and safeguard society. Also, this discourse constitutes a repudiating site (i.e. a site at which subjects are condemned or criticized in order for them to emerge) to construct the kind of subject identified with China’s neoliberal agenda. This study shows that both language and gender can be engaged as either anatomic modes of power or repudiating sites for subjectivity formation in the broader political and economic transformations of the process of globalization. In the context of neoliberalism, the private, the individual and the body have become the bases for
    political legitimacy.
    Posted: 2007-01-18More...

    Can the term "genderlect" be saved? A postmodernist re-definition.

    This article is an attempt to reclaim the term "genderlect" as a valuable sociolinguistic concept. It shows that "genderlect" in its traditional sense as a variety according to speaker sex is just as much a myth as are early sociolinguistic theorisations of "women's/men's language". From a postmodernist perspective, genderlects must be seen as stereotypical resources for gendered stylisation practices that are not to be equalled with how women and men actually speak. This is illustrated by using material from a comprehensive study on linguistic gender stylisation in advertising discourse. Moreover, it is suggested that the strictly binary genderlect concept is abandoned and replaced by another one that sees genderlects as heavily context-dependent, community-based and therefore infinite in number. A postmodernist genderlect concept should be able to deal with hegemonic as well as subversive gender styles and at the same time acknowledge that what is generally judged to be hegemonic in one context might be subversive in another (or vice versa).
    Posted: 2007-07-14More...

    Social constructionism, postmodernism and feminist sociolinguistics

    This article argues that it is time to put women back at the centre of language and gender research. Following a discussion of some issues with social constructionist
    and postmodernist approaches to the analysis of gendered social interaction, a case is made for identifying general (often repressive or constricting) patterns based on
    analyses using a detailed ethnographic approach. More specifically, the paper outlines the advantages of using a community of practice approach to analysing workplace discourse, providing evidence of the ‘gender order’, the repressive ideology which ensures that deviations from gender norms (by women or men) entail penalties. It is argued
    that such an approach provides a means of identifying discursive behaviours which penalise women in many workplace contexts on the one hand, while documenting a
    range of active discursive ways of resisting sexist behaviours on the other.
    Posted: 2007-01-18More...

    Putting communities of practice in their place

    The study of language, gender, and sexuality has enthusiastically embraced the concept community of practice. Now the field needs to take the concept further in two directions: (1) The comparative direction examines different but similar kinds of communities of practice to explore generalizations about how practice contributes
    to the linguistic construction of gender and sexuality; (2) The relational direction locates communities of practice in relation to a world beyond – to other communities of practice, to social networks, to institutions (e.g. schools, churches, prisons), and to more global imagined communities (e.g. nations, women). For each direction, we mention
    exemplary studies, emphasizing that the construct community of practice does not offer new analytic units or replace other concepts, but provides fresh perspectives
    on familiar social units and enriches analyses drawing on other analytic concepts. Only an interdisciplinary research community where researchers connect their work
    can put communities of practice in their proper place.
    Posted: 2007-01-18More...

    Recent Articles


    Negotiating the tall poppy syndrome in New Zealand workplaces: women leaders managing the challenge

    The ‘tall poppy syndrome’ (TPS) is one example of a societal constraint whose function in Australasia is to enforce society-wide ideologies such as egalitarianism and the gender order. The TPS acts as an enforcement mechanism which keeps self-promoting discourse in check. While carefully managed selfpromotion is permissible in some contexts, there are others where New Zealanders are expected to behave with modesty and humility. Using a social realist approach and drawing on data from four different professional contexts (a commercial company, a medical clinic, a government department and a nongovernmental organisation), this paper explores the discursive instantiation of the TPS in combination with potentially competing leader and gender identities as experienced by New Zealand women leaders. Finally, we ask if the pressure to conform to the egalitarian ethic, alongside other downplaying strategies, is gendered in New Zealand workplaces.


    Posted: 2016-12-29More...

    ‘It wasn’t because a woman couldn’t do a man’s job’: uncovering gender ideologies in the context of interviews with American female and male war veterans

    Women currently serve in 95 percent of all US Army occupations and make up 16.3 percent of the active Army forces. Numerous measures have been taken in the form of regulations and policies to advance the presence and position of women in the military (e.g., the recent lifting of the ban on women serving in combat roles). It is claimed, however, that the broader ideology of masculinity prevalent in the institution is much more effective in constraining women’s participation than either specific institutional or interpersonal limitations. This paper, drawing on membership categorization analysis and conversation analysis, exposes some of the gendered propositions and gender ideologies produced by war veterans in the context of interviews. To this end, selected interviews with American female and male war veterans taken from the Veterans History Project (run by the Library of Congress) are qualitatively scrutinized. The analysis demonstrates how gender is occasioned and accounted for when describing military experiences and dayto-day operation of the army. It furthermore reveals the categorization work performed by the veterans that allows us to access various commonsense assumptions concerning the positions of women and men in the contemporary US Army. All in all, the paper points to the continuous relevance of gender in the military.
    Posted: 2016-12-22More...

    Gendering occupations: persistence and resistance of gender presumptions about members of particular healthcare professions

    In spite of increasing gender diversity in employment roles, presumptions persist about the gender of people employed in particular occupations. Focusing on healthcare data collected in Australia and the United Kingdom within the past decade, we use conversation analysis to identify how presumptions about gender are displayed within social interaction through the use of gender-specific pronouns. We show how gender-specific pronouns are asymmetrically selected on the basis of a referent’s occupations, with gender-unspecified members of traditionally male occupations (e.g. doctors) referred to with masculine pronouns and gender-unspecified members of traditionally female occupations (e.g. nurses) referred to with feminine pronouns. We also explore ways people avoid making such presumptions. Our analysis therefore reveals a state of flux in contemporary social life, with instances in which gender presumptions persist as well as attempts to employ person references that reflect contemporary social dynamics.
    Posted: 2016-12-22More...

    Men and women on air: gender stereotypes in humour sequences in a Malaysian radio phone-in programme

    This paper investigates the use of humour in a Malaysian radio phone-in programme to reinforce or challenge stereotypical conceptualisations of men and women. It is argued that these acts of humour uphold gender hierarchies and inequalities in a few ways. Traditional stereotypical portrayals of women still prevail, and these characteristics are naturalised by appealing to assumed shared common sense. Although both sexes are mocked in some instances of humour, when analysing why men and women are ridiculed, it was found that the men were targeted for two conflicting reasons: for exhibiting stereotypical feminine characteristics and for attempting to produce a hegemonic masculine identity. On the other hand, women were mocked for embodying traits culturally ascribed to masculinity. It is concluded that this works to legitimate men’s social dominance over women.
    Posted: 2016-12-22More...

    Commodification of women through conceptual metaphors: the metaphor woman as a car in the western Balkans

    Commodification of women in a society can be reflected in its language and its conceptual metaphors. Thus, conceptualising women as possessions in the western Balkans has engendered the conceptual metaphor WOMAN IS A CAR, which the present research has shown to be widely-spread and commonly used among the speakers of BCMS (Bosnian/Croatian/Montenegrin/Serbian). The study has been carried out on excerpts from online discourse, mostly fora and readers’ comments on news portals, whereby the authors have extrapolated the extensions (i.e. the submetaphors of the most general metaphor studied – WOMAN IS A CAR). Bearing in mind that conceptual metaphors form mental frames in the minds of individuals which are difficult to dispel and which operate at subconscious levels, the implication is that the significant presence of the metaphor WOMAN IS A CAR in BCMS suggests that its speakers see women as objects to be disposed of by their owners (men); that is, that women continue to occupy a lower position in the societies of the western Balkans. Metaphors such as this one support and perpetuate such social relationships, which is why it is of great significance to uncover their underlying discourse mechanisms.
    Posted: 2016-12-22More...



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