Criticizing or, in our overly sensitive times, merely even pointing out that there is some residual sexism inherent in various European languages has very much fallen out of favor among practitioners of linguistics and language science since the advent of the Political Correctness movement in the 1980’s (see Sharpe 2008 for recent, potentially disturbing developments in international policy concerning linguistic castigation on politically correct grounds). Early pioneers in the field (Schouwiniste-
We the authors believe that one of the most fundamentally crippling social myths
Specifically relevant to the issue at hand, many European languages lack distinct native terms for the relationships that in English are referred to as having a friend versus having a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Some examples illustrate the point:
|Greek||φίλος (fílos)||φίλη (fíli)|
This lack of specific vocabulary for romantic involvement, and the clear parallel between the word used for a comrade of the non-
Fortunately, many of the younger globalized generation have taken it upon themselves to address this vocabularic deficiency and inefficiency by borrowing or calquing the words “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” from English. While the infantilization of romance inherent in such terms is a separate affront to mature lovers, it is at least a tentative step in the right direction.
Files, Douglas S. 1990. “Perpetuation of Traditional Gender Roles by European Languages,” Babel I.1.
Jenkins, Andrew. 1990. “A Laboratory Test of the Sapir-
Sharpe, Major. 2008. “Castilian Language Chastised, Portugal Says “We Told You So”,” Speculative Grammarian CLIV.2.