From gorgeous to grumpy: adjectives, age, and gender
Issue: Vol 8 No. 1 (2014)
Journal: Gender and Language
This paper presents a study of English adjectives used to describe men and women of different ages, and the gender- and age-based stereotypes revealed. Drawing on evidence in the 450-million-word Bank of English corpus, it examines central items such as young and old in combination with the gendered pairing man/men and woman/women, identifying sets of adjectival collocates associated with different age groups. These adjectives can be considered secondary age-markers, coding age through reference to physical and behavioural characteristics typical of different age groups and genders, and comprising a cryptotype (Whorf 1956) or covert category. This is discussed in the final part of the paper, along with deviant usage (‘young’ adjectives applied to older people, and vice versa). Since adjectives clustering with young mainly evaluate positively, those with old are mostly negative, there are implications for studies of ageism and sexism in language, and representation, age and gender more broadly.
Author: Rosamund Moon
Archer, J. and Lloyd, B. (1982) Sex and Gender. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Baker, P. (2006) Using Corpora in Discourse Analysis. London: Continuum.
Baker, P. (2010a) Sociolinguistics and Corpus Linguistics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Baker, P. (2010b) Will Ms ever be as frequent as Mr? A corpus-based comparison of gendered terms across four diachronic corpora of British English. Gender and Language 4(1): 125–49. http://dx.doi.org/10.1558/genl.v4i1.125
Baker, P. (2014) Using Corpora to Analyze Gender. London: Bloomsbury.
Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S. and Finegan, E. (1999) Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. Harlow: Longman.
Bolinger, D. (1967) Adjectives in English: attribution and predication. Lingua 18: 1–34. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0024-3841(67)90018-6
Caldas-Coulthard, C. R. and Moon, R. (2010) Curvy, hunky, kinky: using corpora as tools in critical analysis. Discourse and Society 21(2): 1–35. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0957926509353843
Counts, D. A. and Counts, D. R. (1985) Introduction: linking concepts aging and gender, aging and death. In D. A. Counts and D. R. Counts (eds) Aging and its Transformations: Moving toward Death in Pacific Societies 1–24. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
Coupland, J. (1996) Dating advertisements: discourses of the commodified self. Discourse and Society 7(2): 187–207. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0957926596007002003
Coupland, J. (2000) Past the ‘perfect kind of age’? Styling selves and relationships in over-50s dating advertisements. Journal of Communication 50(3): 9–30. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2000.tb02850.x
Coupland, N., Coupland, J. and Giles, H. (1989) Telling age in later life: identity and face implications Text 9(2): 129–51. http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/text.1.1918.104.22.168
Coward, R. (1984) Female Desire. London: Paladin.
Eckert, P. (1997) Age as a sociolinguistic variable. In F. Coulmas (ed.) The Handbook of Sociolinguistics 151–67. Oxford: Blackwell.
Firth, J. R. (1957) Papers in Linguistics 1934–1951. London: Oxford University Press.
Firth, J. R. (1968) Selected Papers of J.R. Firth 1952–59 (ed. F. R. Palmer). London: Longman.
Hazan, H. (1994) Old Age: Constructions and Deconstructions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511621925
Herriman, J. (1998) Descriptions of woman and man in Present-Day English. Moderna Språk 92: 136–42.
Holmes, J. and Sigley, R. (2001) What’s a word like girl doing in a place like this? In P. Peters, P. Collins and A. Smith (eds) New Frontiers of Corpus Linguistics 247–63. Amsterdam: Rodopi.
Kjellmer, G. (1986) ‘The lesser man’: observations on the role of women in modern English writings. In J. Aarts and W. Meijs (eds) Corpus Linguistics II: New Studies in the Analysis and Exploitation of Computer Corpora 163–76. Amsterdam: Rodopi.
Kress, G. and Hodge, R. (1979) Language as Ideology. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Leech, G. (1981) Semantics (2nd edn). Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Lindquist, H. (2009) Corpus Linguistics and the Description of English. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Mautner, G. (2007) Mining large corpora for social information: the case of elderly. Language in Society 36: 51–72. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0047404507070030
Murphy, B. (2010) Corpus and Sociolinguistics: Investigating Age and Gender in Female Talk. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. http://dx.doi.org/10.1075/scl.38
Pearce, M. (2008) Investigating the collocational behaviour of MAN and WOMAN in the BNC using Sketch Engine. Corpora 3(1): 1–29. http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/E174950320800004X
Philip, G. (2011) Colouring Meaning: Collocation and Connotation in Figurative Language. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. http://dx.doi.org/10.1075/scl.43
Poynton, C. (1989) Language and Gender: Making the Difference. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Reisigl, M. and Wodak, R. (2001) Discourse and Discrimination: Rhetorics of Racism and Antisemitism. London: Routledge.
Romaine, S. (2000) Language in Society: An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. (2nd ed.) Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Romaine, S. (2001) A corpus-based view of gender in British and American English. In M. Hellinger and H. Bußmann (eds) Gender across Languages: the Linguistic Representation of Women and Men vol. 1: 153–75. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Rubin, A. M. and Rubin, R. B. (1982) Contextual age and television use. Human Communication Research 8: 228–44. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2958.1982.tb00666.x
Sigley, R. and Holmes, J. (2002) Looking at girls in corpora of English. Journal of English Linguistics 30(2): 138–57. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/007242030002004
Sinclair, J. (1991) Corpus, Concordance, Collocation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Sinclair, J. (2004) Trust the Text. London: Routledge.
Stubbs, M. (1996) Text and Corpus Analysis. Oxford: Blackwell.
Stubbs, M. (2001) Words and Phrases: Corpus Studies of Lexical Semantics. Oxford: Blackwell.
van Leeuwen, T. (1996) The representation of social actors. In C. R. Caldas-Coulthard and M. Coulthard (eds) Texts and Practices: Readings in Critical Discourse Analysis 32–70. London: Routledge.
Whorf, B. L. (1956) Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf (ed. J. B. Carroll). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Williams, J. E. and Bennett, S. M. (1975) The definition of sex stereotypes via the adjective check list. Sex Roles 1(4): 327–37. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00287224