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date: 22 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Centering on the English language reform movement, this chapter describes three main strategies through which feminists have targeted language, both as an object to reform and a platform for revolution. First, it describes the strategy of challenging man-made language forms, exemplified in debates over masculine generics. Second, it discusses the strategy of creating and institutionalizing egalitarian naming practices in order to reclaim the power to name and define. By tracing such forms as Ms., it becomes evident that even small shifts in language use can contribute to cultural change. Third, it describes the strategy of linguistic disruption, illustrated through such neologisms as herstory and womyn, gender-neutral forms such as singular they, and third-gender forms such as zie and zir. By using language creatively and sometimes radically to reject patriarchal language, respond to gender bias, and empower women, feminist activists and everyday speakers alike can employ linguistic practices to promote equality.

Keywords: feminism, language, sociolinguistics, linguistic, activism, language reform

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