Androcentrism in Linguistics
by Angela Dworkin
The patriarchy is alive and well and flourishing in linguistics.
A few years ago, a womyn, Sarah Grey Thomason, became the editor of the prestigious journal Language. The United States has a slightly more developed consciousness than other parts of the world.
Yet numerous prestigious international journals adhere to androcentric policies. Even the notion of prestige is a mayle concept. That it continues to exist is a demonstration of the state of oppression in which we still are.
I wish to focus attention on one journal in particular. It is by no means the only offender, but it is one of the most egregious.
The Journal of the Linguistic Society of South-Central New Caledonia has no wymyn on its editorial board. Its first issue did indeed have a womyn, Lynn Poulton, but she has since been excluded.
Even more shocking, this widely-read journal has never published an article by a womyn.
The androcentrism of the cover art is beyond imagination. The first issue pictured a brawny, bearded, hairy-chested mayle linguist, bearing an obviously phallic pistol in his left hand. He was aggressive and dominant. The second issue pictured a group of wymyn wearing the oppressive garmenture of Catholic nunhood, a role invented by a patriarchal church to suppress female sexuality and worship of the Mother Goddess. The wymyn pictured appeared passive and submissive.
The articles have also reflected the patriarchal program of the magazine’s publishers. The longest article yet published dwelt with great relish on the ritualistic ravishing of Leda. Many of the articles have attempted to downgrade womyn-thinking by emphasizing mathematics and logical argumentation. An article by noted imperialist Robert F. Scott was full of violent example sentences. A poem entitled “Old Professor Hockett” detailed the horrible punishment dealt out to a pre-adolescent womyn who refused to submit to the authority of the patriarch. The journal has printed no sociolinguistic studies of the differences between mayle and female speech.
The journal is a publication of the Linguistic Society of South-Central New Caledonia. New Caledonia is a French possession. It was conquered in the 19th century. A desperate effort by the dispossessed indigenous population to reclaim their birthright was brutally crushed in 1878. At present, the island is a French overseas territory, lacking the right of self-government. It was the staging area for the typically mayle attack upon the environmentalist Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior. The French, like all industrialized nations, are well-known for their androcentric outlook.
This essay will be sent to the editors of this patriarchal journal. It will probably be published as a way of “proving” how open-minded the editors are. We will not be fooled.
||Refining Autosegmental Phonology—Morris Goldparsky
||Better Words and Morphemes — JLSSCNC Vol I, No 3 Contents