Posts Tagged ‘ Deborah Cameron ’

The language trap [short version]


The term ‘language trap’ and the concept behind it has been used many times in the last few decades with specific —but not sole— reference to gender and language studies, for example Dale Spender (1980), Deborah Cameron (1985, 1990) and Robin Lakoff (1975, 2004). For the purposes of this evaluation, a language trap shall be taken to mean:

the existence within language of conventions, expectancies and etiquette which serve to maintain the status of women as subservient and inferior to men and to maintain contemporary society’s patriarchal power structure.

The argument here is that, in the way language is used by and about women, they are still the victims of a language trap. Through language, women are objectified, commodified, infantilised and marginalised. Language, like the society it reflects, changes very slowly over time. The work of feminists in the 1970s is on the one hand still being undertaken and on the other hand is being undone. From close analysis, it can be seen that women are still currently the victims of a language trap. This is not to say however that the trap is inescapable and indeed it is evident that change toward equality is underfoot.

The full version of this essay is on the portfolio page, here.

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