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Kathleen Ahrens. Hong Kong Baptist University
X Congreso de AELFE Kathleen Ahrens. Hong Kong Baptist University  ...
6 de Septiembre de 2011. 15.30h.
Examining Gender and Power in Diachronic Corpora.
Kathleen Ahrens
Hong Kong Baptist University

Research on the advance of women has mostly centered on examining economic and political gains. However, linguistic gains can also shed light on the status of women. As noted by van Dijk (1993), Fairclough (2001), and others, research in critical discourse analysis postulates that the language used by a political leader reflects the ideology of the leader. By extension, examination of the language of political leaders diachronically allows researchers to study shifts in ideology over time, including shifts in gender and power. In countries which have had both male and female political leaders, linguistic information in their speeches can be contrasted (i.e. Koller and Semino¿s (2009) analysis of German prime ministers). But in countries which have not yet had women leaders, there are no texts to contrast with that of men. In this case, one must examine the terminology that is used by male leaders to ascertain how women are viewed. In this talk, I will examine how women are portrayed in the speeches of leaders whose words set an implicit or explicit standard for many millions around the world -- the speeches of US presidents and Roman Catholic popes -- over the past one hundred years. Through frequency analyses and collocational analyses I will demonstrate that while the language of these male leaders is becoming more inclusive (more so for presidents who rely on an electorate for their power as contrasted with the popes), there is a consistently strong tendency over time to attribute positive characteristics to men as compared with women.

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