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Monica Nordström
Monica Nordström, Senior Lecturer at Luleå University of Technology. Photo: Lars Andersson View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Gender affects our language usage

Published: 27 September 2018

Gender have affected and continue to affect our language and language usage. Since ancient times, the female gender and feminine attributes are clad in negatively charged words, while the masculine is emphasized as positive.

 There are many negative words about women, that's all about how they look like to what they look like. You will have to look considerably longer to find some masculine counterparts, if even there are any, says Monica Nordström, Lecturer at Luleå University of Technology.

Language made for men

Under the heading "Kan ingen få tyst på den där sladderbaggen?" Monica Nordström talked on the annual recurring European language day at the university. There are plenty of examples of traditional female attributes being termed and charged negatively.

 The Latin word for uterus is hyster, so when a woman got upset, she was considered to be affected by her womb. She was thus hysterical. Synonyms for hysterical are overshadowed and neurotic, that there would be a male organ that would assume that men were overspuned or neurotic is not found. Men get angry or furious, but they never become hysterical, says Monica Nordström, and addresses the terminology of prostitution as an example of a language made by men for men.

- The expression joy girls we all know. But who recives the joy? Hardly the one who sells her body.

Gender words are coded differently

Also genitals is often categorized differently. The male genitals have countless names and the vast majority can be used in a positive sense.

This linguistic use is not only a historical phenomenon but goes on today. Happily enough, teachers and actors, not teachers and actresses, are trained at Luleå University of Technology, but Monica Nordström shows that much of the gender-coded language usage is still alive.


Nordström, Monica - Senior Lecturer

Organisation: Swedish and Education, Education and Languages, Department of Health, Education and Technology
Phone: +46 (0)920 492109
Room: A2412 - Luleå»