Call for proposals | 10


Savoirs en Prisme | 10: New forms of writing (inclusive and gender-neutral language, gender-fair agreement)

Coordinated by Véronique Le Ru, Machteld Meulleman & Eliane Viennot

If words cannot be said to be reality, they do shape reality in some way. The French grammar rule established in the 17th century according to which the masculine takes precedence over the feminine and one should say « les femmes et le lustre sont beaux » (“the womenfem and the chandeliermasc are”), for instance, has contributed to strengthen male domination within language itself. This has not always been the case, though, as set out in Eliane Viennot’s work on the agreement rule or on female nouns referring to prestigious activities, such as philosophesse, médecine, autrice, peintresse, etc., which have been condemned by the authors of grammars and dictionaries. Where are we now, four centuries later? There is growing awareness of the necessity to demasculinise language : 75 percent of French people are in favour of gender-fair writing in the broad sense (using feminine or gender-neutral terms, gender-fair inflection and abbreviations), according to the polling organization Harris-interactive (survey released in December 2017). 314 teachers have announced they would no longer teach that « the masculine takes precedence over the feminine » (Manifesto of November 7). Neologisms have been proposed here and there (iels, toustes, ceuses…) and these new forms of writing are indeed proliferating in newspapers, e-mails, intranet messages in companies and institutions, etc. Number 10 of the journal Savoirs en Prisme aims to explore these new forms of writing and their related issues in politics, philosophy, style and linguistics. These considerations can be examined in different ways: historically (the evolution of languages, of grammar, practices and customs), philosophically and politically (how can a form of writing lead to gender equality ? in a given language, is it possible to design an egalitarian form of writing?), aesthetically (how can we make the new forms of writing more elegant?) and through comparative linguistics: if the French language is characterized by the use of two genders, what happens in other languages where this opposition may not exist or which has access to neutralized forms ? Within a single language, do we find different practices according to text types and discourse genres?

Proposals for articles (limited to 15 lines) should indicate the general topic(s) to which they are related (history, philosophy & politics, aesthetics, comparative linguistics) and be accompanied by a short biographical note mentioning the institutional affiliation and email address of the author(s). They are to be sent to the following address before September 15th, 2018:

    • Accepted languages: French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese.
    • Important information and dates for the full paper submission:
      • maximum length: 50.000 characters (notes and spaces included)
      • notification by the scientific committee: October 1st 2018
      • submission of full paper: December 15th 2018
      • notification of peer evaluation: March 2019
      • publication in number 10 of the online journal Savoirs en Prisme: expected by July 2019