• Language, queerly phrased: a sociolinguistic examination of nonbinary gender identity in French

      del Caño, Madeleine (2019-05)
      Language, a uniquely human skill, is intrinsic to the self. Beyond its base communication purpose, language serves to shape the identity of the speakers who use it. One of the biggest examples of language defining and confining interlocutors’ identities is the concept of gender. Based on a language’s use of gender, speakers of that language are confined to the gender rules set forth in grammatical systems. How then can people who do not identify as male or female be recognized as legitimate if the language they speak does not accommodate for their gender identity? This thesis aims to examine how gender variant people speak in gendered languages, first examining English, Hebrew and Japanese as case studies, then moving on to the historically rigid and regulated French. This study examines respondents’ proposed solutions to the French language’s lack of a non-gendered pronoun on social media to see if it is indeed possible for people to identify themselves and each other in a language that does not structurally recognize them as legitimate.