Rémi Adam VAN COMPERNOLLE
« Firewomen ? How ghastly ! » A lexical study of the feminization of job titles in France
Langage et société n° 123 – March 2008
The rising number of women in the work force in France has led to a linguistic controversy that remains disputed to this day: the feminization of job titles. The French government has taken steps to feminize, officially, job titles, but it is not certain that these new linguistic policies have had an impact in and among the French public. This study aims to determine to what extent French people are able to identify the feminine form of 17 professions admitted in 1999 and to explore the influences concerning the identification of these terms. Morphology and professional sector emerge as influential in the choice of a feminine form. In addition, conversations between informants and the investigator help to shed light on a certain number of linguistic, cultural and psychological factors that influence the use of a feminized term.
Key words: feminization of job titles, linguistic policies, women in French society, linguistic equality, social and linguistic evolution.
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