- Gender across languages: The linguistic representation of women and men ed. by Marlis Hellinger, Hadumod Bussmann
As the editors inform us in the preface, the three volumes of Gender across languages adopt a multi-dimensional concept of ‘gender’ and endeavor to ‘provide a comprehensive collection of in-depth descriptions of gender-related issues in languages with very diverse structural foundations and socio-cultural backgrounds’ (ix). The present volume, Vol. 2, touches upon the following languages: Chinese, Dutch, Finish, Hindi, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Welsh.
The goal of Charles Ettner’s chapter, the first of three devoted to Chinese, is ‘to show that certain features of contemporary Chinese reflect male-dominant social attitudes and, conversely, notions of female inferiority still extant in Chinese society’ (50). The author has done an admirable job by using many Chinese characters in his presentation; however, since this is written by a nonnative Chinese speaker (see ‘Notes on contributors’, 332), it is little wonder that there are some typographic and phonetic transcription errors (see pp. 31, 33, 34, 35, 37, 55). Also, the author, in presenting the Chinese characters, uses the original complex forms instead of the more modern simplified forms. While he may be following Taiwanese practice, it should be noted that, in mainland China, the simplified Chinese characters are now regarded as the standard form (see for detail Ping Chen’s Modern Chinese, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.)
The chapter by Marjorie K. M. Chan is entitled ‘Gender-related use of sentence-final particles in Cantonese’. The author argues that Cantonese female speakers and their male counterparts differ in the quantity and choice of sentence-final particles. Hong Zhang’s chapter investigates ‘Social control and gender relations in Mandarin Chinese proverbs’. Surveying three large collections of Chinese proverbs, Zhang demonstrates (concerning female status in society) that there seem to be some contradictions between what is written down in the Chinese proverbs and real life.
The next chapter tackles Dutch. Marinel Gerritsen discusses efforts to change gender bias in language use in the Netherlands. In ‘The communication of gender in Finnish’, Mila Engelberg looks into ‘lexical and rocentricity in the so-called male generics and in the covert male bias of terms with human reference’ (112). The next chapter, by Kira Hall, investigates ‘ “Unnatural” gender in Hindi’, while Anna Gunnarsdotter Grönberg’s contribution explores ‘the linguistic unmarkedness of the masculine’ (181) in current Icelandic. In ‘Gender and female visibility in Italian’, Gianna Marcato and Eva-Maria Thüne show that ‘the problem of gender-fair usage in Italian remains unsolved’ (212). Tove Bull and Toril Swan’s ‘The representation of gender in Norwegian’ shows that ‘official Norwegian guidelines follow the strategy of gender-neutralisation rather than gender-specification’ (247). Next, Uwe Kjær Nissen explores the tradition and innovation of gender in Spanish, and Hoa Pham’s ‘Gender in addressing and self-reference in Vietnamese: Variation and change’ demonstrates that the promotion of women’s social status is accompanied by changes in language use in Vietnamese. The last chapter of this volume, co-authored by Gwenllian Awbery, Kathryn Jones, and Delyth Morris, explores ‘The politics of language and gender in Wales’. The volume ends with notes on contributors, a name index, and a subject index. [End Page 804]