Generic Pronouns in Current Academic Writing

Ozieblowska, Beata (1994) Generic Pronouns in Current Academic Writing. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This dissertation is concerned with third-person singular pronouns used in sex-indefinite references, that is references to people, without specifying their sex. Pronouns which do not specify sex are traditionally called "generic", because generic statements about human referents discuss people in general, and therefore the sex of the referents is irrelevant Generic pronouns are a feature of English which is currently undergoing substantial change and is a topical issue because of the present attempts to use language devoid of sexual bias. However, despite much publicity on the subject, there has been relatively little attention directed towards the generic phenomenon based on real-language data. This study looks at the extent of change in generic pronoun usage, but is mostly concerned with the generic as a grammatical and discourse phenomenon. The analysis is based on a corpus of real-language examples of generics collected from academic writing. The examples are looked at in context, which provides information about factors which might be responsible for the choice of a given pronoun as a generic. The study reveals that the generic should not be discussed merely from the point of view of "sexist/nonsexist language", but in terms of gradience of genericity, depending on different factors, like stylistic devices found in context or kind of reference.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Adviser: Catherine Emmott
Keywords: Language arts, Rhetoric
Date of Award: 1994
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1994-74798
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2019 16:17
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2019 16:17
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/74798

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