Synopses & Reviews
Based on extensive research, Anne Curzan's study makes a major contribution by providing historical perspective on controversial questions regarding the continuing evolution of gender definition. How and why did grammatical gender 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" (she for ships) and "sexist" language use (generic he) in Modern English? Finally, how is the language continuing to evolve 0n these respects?
Includes bibliographical references (p. 204-217) and index.
How did grammatical gender in English get replaced by a system dependent on natural gender? How is this related to 'irregular agreement' (she for ships) and 'sexist' language use (generic he) in Modern English? This study, based on extensive corpus data, offers an important historical perspective on these controversial questions.
A ground-breaking new study of gender in English from the middle ages to the present.
About the Author
Anne Curzan is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Michigan. She has written extensively on the history of English, lexicography, and pedagogy, and is co-author of First Day to Final
Table of Contents
Introduction; 1. Defining English gender; 2. The gender shift in histories of English; 3. A history of gender, people, and pronouns: the story of generic he; 4. Third-person pronouns in the gender shift: why is that ship a she?; 5. Gender and asymmetrical word histories: when boys could be girls; 6. Implications for non-sexist language reform; Appendices: Appendix 1: Background on Early English Personal Pronouns; Appendix 2: Helsinki Corpus Texts and Methodology.