‘But her language skills shifted the family dynamics dramatically’
Language, gender and the construction of publics in two British newspapers
Keywords:language, gender, representation, language ideologies, publics, identity, newspapers, corpus linguistics
Drawing on recent work on language ideologies as ‘sets of representations’ and ‘belief systems’ that are central not only to the construction of languages, but also their communities of users or publics, this paper explores the ways in which language is represented in relation to gender in two British newspapers, The Times and the Guardian. Based on the quantitative and qualitative analysis of a corpus of texts containing 96 instances of the terms or , the study reveals a marked gender distinction in the way in which language is represented in this sector of the print media in relation to four main themes: ‘aesthetic value’, ‘plain talking’, ‘transgression of norms’ and ‘language skills’. The findings are then explored in the context of ongoing theoretical debates on the question of ‘representation’ versus ‘reality’ together with the language ideological notion of gendered ‘publics’.
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