Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 7801
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Kornexl , Lucia.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Word Formation, Sex, and Gender in Old English: An Intimate Relationship?
  • Source: Old English Newsletter 34, 3 (Spring 2001): Appendix A: Abstracts of Papers in Anglo-Saxon Studies. Conference Paper presented at the Tenth Biennial Meeting of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists, University of Helsinki, August 6-11, 2001, "Anglo-Saxons and the North
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Conference Paper Abstract
  • Subject (See Also): Gender, Grammatical Old English Language
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
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  • Abstract: The development of modern "gender studies" as a basically non-linguistic discipline has not only led to a remarkable shift in the application of the word gender, but it has also renewed linguistic interest in the rela-tionship between grammatical and natural gender that proves particularly relevant in the field of human designations. As evidenced by a number of recent publications (cp., e.g., the volumes edited by Sieburg [Sprache - GenuslSexus, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1997] and Unterbeek et al. [Gender in Grammar and Cognition, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2000]), questions of gender assignment and determination are far more often examined from an inflexional than from a word- formational point of view. This aspect, however, deserves closer scrutiny especially with regard to the earliest period of the English language. There are assertions that Old English had the derivational proper-ties for a balanced system of male and female designa-tions - a system that allegedly suffered increasing disruption by the decay of grammatical gender. On the other hand, this category is said to have still been intact enough to impede the free application of personal suffixations to members of both sexes. By a fresh examination of the relevant data this paper tries to show that neither position offers an adequate description of the complex interrelation of'grammatical gender-determi-nation and sex-referential flexibility characterizing Old English personal word-formation and usage. By taking a critical look at the sources frequently cited in the literature, it will be demonstrated that some of the current misconceptions about sex- and gender-specific derivation in Old English are due to the use of disparate sources, above all of Latin-dependent, decontextualized gloss material, and to an uncritical handling of sche-matic lexicographical classifications. [Reproduced by permission of Robert Schicler, the “Abstracts of Papers in Anglo-Saxon Studies” editor, and the editors of the “Old English Newsletter.”].
  • Author's Affiliation: University of Greifswald
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2001.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 00301973
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