Gender Shifts in the History of English
Cambridge University Press, 24.04.2003
How and why did grammatical gender, found in Old English and in other Germanic languages, gradually disappear from English and get replaced by a system where the gender of nouns and the use of personal pronouns depend on the natural gender of the referent? How is this shift related to 'irregular agreement' (such as she for ships) and 'sexist' language use (such as generic he) in Modern English, and how is the language continuing to evolve in these respects? Anne Curzan's accessibly written and carefully researched study is based on extensive corpus data, and will make a major contribution by providing a historical perspective on these often controversial questions. It will be of interest to researchers and students in history of English, historical linguistics, corpus linguistics, language and gender, and medieval studies.
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1 Defining English gender
2 The gender shift in histories of English
the story of generic he
why is that ship a she?
when boys could be girls
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Alfred’s anaphoric pronouns anaphoric references Ancrene Wisse animacy antecedent noun appears argues century chapter child construction context creole described dialects discourse distinction early Middle English early Modern English east midland English language English personal pronouns example explain factors female feminine nouns feminine pronouns feminist forms gender binaries gender concord gender reference gender shift girl grammatical gender agreement grammatical gender system Helsinki Corpus historical linguistic history of English inanimate nouns inanimate objects Kleparski language change language contact language reform lexical fields loss of grammatical male masculine and feminine masculine noun masculine pronouns masculine-neuter natural gender agreement natural gender system neuter nouns neuter pronouns noun phrase oflanguage ofthe Old English Old Norse patterns personal pronouns plural polysemy pronoun references question refer to inanimate resilient nouns semantic change semantic gender sexist singular social specific syntactic change usage variation wench woman women words þæt