Language and gender: a case study in social semiotics of the lexicon of the Gikuyu language
Wango, Geoffrey Mbugua
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This study examines the place and role of language in gender in a social semiotic framework. It studies the extent to which the lexicon in Gikuyu language is sexist. The study achieves this through a computer-based corpus of spontaneous conversational data between Gikuyu speakers. The basic argument is that Gikuyu relegates females to a subordinate position in which their roles and functions are suppressed in favour of the males. The thesis is divided into five chapters. Chapter one is a general introduction in which the study problem is stated and the procedure used in the study is given. Chapter two contains the literature review. Chapter three describes the Gikuyu social and cultural background that helps to uncover the subtle aspects of the society as an important component to help explain the place of women in the society. The findings of the research are presented and discussed in chapter four; the lexis is described and interpreted in relation to gender and what has been outlined in earlier chapters. The possible causes of such a bias in word use is investigated, various connotations observed and statistical analysis and interpretation attempted. The last chapter evaluates the whole study including its relevance, application, implications, and suggestions for further study. We conclude that Gikuyu language needs to redefine and exclude certain terms that hamper women’s development and that have created negative perceptions of the female and her image especially while promoting the male at the expense of the female.
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