Hello dear readers! My name is Yann, and this year I am a teaching assistant in Translation Studies and French at Aston University. I’m French and Austrian, and I study English and German translation at Institut Libre Marie Haps. I will be the one updating this blog for the next few months.
I want my first post on this blog to be about a subject that is very current in French media, namely gender, but with a linguistic twist.
I had a fascinating conversation the other day with a friend from Germany who told me that it was more and more common in German universities to use gender-neutral language when addressing students. Having never noticed that in my French-speaking university, I started to read a little bit about the subject (Wikipedia has a few entries about gender-neutrality in languages) and I found out about the pronoun s/he, and how some grammatical constructions in Japanese are traditionally associated with women and men!
The study of gender in language is often said to have begun with Robin Lakoff’s book Language and Women’s Place (you can read it on Google Scholar), published in 1975. Since then, numerous articles have been written about gender and language, in the fields of sociology, sociolinguistics, linguistics and of course, gender studies.
Here at Aston, our own Dr. Olga Castro is currently studying gender in translation. And without further ado, let me point you to an article about why you shouldn’t use Google/Bing Translate or Systran for your homework: it doesn’t work very well (seriously, why even bother), but it might just make you look sexist!