Feminism and Linguistics: How Technology Can Prove Our Point
AuthorBaider, Fabienne H.
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One can immediately notice a common determinant to all these lexical fields: the woman is always defined by and for men. The first two fields speak for themselvesas to representation of woman in her social relationships, she is limited to be femme d'untel (spouse of so and so), or defined in relationship to a nephew, father, and even a son! Finally, the lexical field of "metaphors and generic value" includes figurative expressions of the preceding fields (i.e., sexuality, reproduction, appearance, etc.) Systematically, for instance, a woman is metaphorically compared to a bird, a cow, or any female animal, and bed is by metonymy wife/woman. One must also notice that "sexuality" is limited to two main characteristics: violence and adultery. Here are some examples from the dictionary: adultery CUBILE ALICUIUS TEMERARE. OUIDIUS. Coucher averc la femme d'autruy "to sleep with somebody else's wife." (Dictionarium s.v. temero, 1296) CONDUCTUS TORUS. OUID. Quand une femme prend dons et argent pour permettre qu'on couche avec elle. "when a woman takes gifts and money to allow a man to sleep with her." (Dictionarium s.v. torus, 1321) violence (occurrences de force*/viol*): VITIUM VIRGINI OFFERRE. TERENT. Violer une fille. "to rape a girl." (Dictionarium s.v. offero, 911) STUPRUM PER VIM OBLATUM. CIC. Forcement de femme, ou violement. "to force a woman." (Dictionarium s.v. oblatus, 911) LUCTANTIA OSCULA CARPERE. OUID. Baiser une femme a force. to "kiss a woman forcefully." (Dictionarium s.v. osculum, 934) This work shows, then, a systematic and negative connotation associated with word woman and therefore the pejoration of the concept of womanhood. Even the stereotypically feminine qualities such as "tender," "compassionate," "beautiful," etc. are rarely found: love for a woman is as scarce as lust is abundant. On the other hand, sexist comments such as the following are not uncommon: ANIMA. VIRG. L'haleine, et le vent qui sort de la bouche. FOETET ANIMA UXORI TUAE. PLAUT. L'haleine de ta femme put. "your wife's breath stinks" (Dictionarium s.v. anima, 94) IN MEDIA POTIONE EXCLAMAUIT MULIER. CIC. Ayant ja a demi beu "half-drunk woman" (Dictionarium s.v. medius, 805) My question, then is "Why did the lexicographer choose these examples?" For instance, did he have any choice other than quoting "your wife's breath stinks" in order to exemplify the word ANIMA? To answer this question, I consulted the CD-ROM8 that includes all classical Latin texts ever written and is the primary data base for the quotations of [R. Estienne], the lexicographer. My work had two additional aims: - to check whether the obviously misogynist quotations about woman were of frequent usage, which could justify their inclusion in the dictionary- to gather all the quotation from the works of Cicero, the most-quoted author, for the word "femme." This would serve as a comparison of the lexical fields found in the Renaissance dictionary for the word "femme" with those found in the primary texts from which the lexicographer took the quotations. I could then attempt to answer the question: did Estienne make a choice that influenced the representation of woman in his dictionary? Or was he faithful to his primary data? Some results