On and off the page: the 'male as norm' ideology of English and German


  • Barbara L. Hilden BA Graduate of the University of Alberta




This paper examines the linguistic representation of male and female. Comparing German and English, this paper argues that, despite the grammatically gendered nature of German, both languages equally privilege the male element at the expense of the female. Referencing a variety of studies, this paper explores the use—in both languages—of the “generic he,” investigating how this custom is perceived by listeners; it examines marked terms, particularly the apparent need to mark female appearance in male-dominated professional spheres; it considers female visibility in language and the differing approaches taken by both English and German; and it explores feminine derivation and the semantic sexualization/degradation of the female form to male counterparts. Derivation from masculine norms as well as lexical and connotative gender are briefl y discussed. Finally, the paper looks at each language’s strategies for correction.