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Antecedents of a novel gender-neutral pronoun: a corpus-based approach to pronoun reference in Swedish

Antecedents of a novel gender-neutral pronoun: a corpus-based approach to pronoun reference in... This paper provides a corpus-based perspective on the issues of pronominal systems and pronoun reference. Specifically, the paper examines the antecedents of Swedish third-person singular animate pronouns, with a particular focus on the recently introduced gender-neutral pronoun hen. Using Swedish Twitter corpora from 2015 to 2017 (c. 1.6 billion words), the study provides a comparison of the general antecedent types as well as the specific antecedent lemmas used with each pronoun. The results show that, whilst there are considerable similarities between the use of hen and the more established gender-equal expression han eller hon (‘he or she’), hen is used substantially more often with nouns that refer to close personal relationships. In this regard, hen also bears closer resemblance to the feminine pronoun than to the masculine pronoun. Generally, the analysis demonstrates that language users are assigning a distinct set of functional properties to hen, making it a complement to the ‘old’ gender-specific and gender-equal pronouns, not a replacement. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Corpora Edinburgh University Press

Antecedents of a novel gender-neutral pronoun: a corpus-based approach to pronoun reference in Swedish

Corpora , Volume 18 (3): 28 – Nov 1, 2023

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
Copyright © Edinburgh University Press
ISSN
1749-5032
eISSN
1755-1676
DOI
10.3366/cor.2023.0290
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper provides a corpus-based perspective on the issues of pronominal systems and pronoun reference. Specifically, the paper examines the antecedents of Swedish third-person singular animate pronouns, with a particular focus on the recently introduced gender-neutral pronoun hen. Using Swedish Twitter corpora from 2015 to 2017 (c. 1.6 billion words), the study provides a comparison of the general antecedent types as well as the specific antecedent lemmas used with each pronoun. The results show that, whilst there are considerable similarities between the use of hen and the more established gender-equal expression han eller hon (‘he or she’), hen is used substantially more often with nouns that refer to close personal relationships. In this regard, hen also bears closer resemblance to the feminine pronoun than to the masculine pronoun. Generally, the analysis demonstrates that language users are assigning a distinct set of functional properties to hen, making it a complement to the ‘old’ gender-specific and gender-equal pronouns, not a replacement.

Journal

CorporaEdinburgh University Press

Published: Nov 1, 2023

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