Generic ‘you’ and gender in Hebrew journalistic interviews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Generic singular ‘you’ in Modern Hebrew may be masculine (M-you) or feminine (F-you). Only the former, representing the crosslinguistically unmarked masculine gender, has been recognized as generic. F-you has been evaluated as triggering negative emotions, on the part of men and women alike, for displaying aggressive feminism. This is the first attempt to analyze, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the distribution of M-you and F-you in a sample of journalistic personality interviews in four dyads: MM (male interviewee/male interviewer), MF (male interviewee/female interviewer), FM and FF. We see M-you forms decreasing from 100% in MM to just 8% in the FF dyad, and F-you can well be a true generic. Women's use is more varied than men's, and seems to reflect performative choices in doing gender. Reasons for choosing the dispreferred forms in each dyad include topic and shifted viewpoint. Finally, the rhetorical and performative values of generic ‘you’ are highlighted by its prevalence in the journalistic margin blurbs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-288
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Volume169
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020

Keywords

  • Androcentric (false or pseudo-) generics
  • Blurbs
  • Generic (impersonal/inclusive/indefinite) ‘you’
  • Homograph ambiguity
  • Journalistic interviews
  • Performing gender
  • Shifted viewpoint

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