Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics
The English language is a genderless language in which nouns receive grammatical gender through natural gender assignment. The generic pronoun encoded in English is the pronoun he, which next to its secondary meaning of the generic also has the primary meaning of the third person masculine singular. Following the moderate version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, English speaking societies may therefore be considered androcentric societies, since the unmarked use of the generic he makes everyone in this society male until explicitly proven otherwise. In this thesis I explore the history of the generic pronoun in English and offer suggestions for a change in language awareness which, in the ideal case, could result in a language change in the favor of women in society.
Engelhardt, Maike, "Generic pronouns and their influence on the speakers' language awareness" (2001). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 823.