Teaching & Learning Guide for: Bridging Across Feminist Translation and Sociolinguistics



This guide accompanies the following article: Emek Ergun, ‘Bridging Across Feminist Translation and Sociolinguistics’, Language and Linguistics Compass 4/5 (2010): 307–318. DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-818X.2010.00209.x

Author’s Introduction

This article explores the ways in which feminist sociolinguistic studies and feminist translation studies can inform and empower each other in terms of theory, practice, and research. While the discussion of the theoretical intersection between the two fields focuses on the feminist critiques of sexist language from the perspective of language philosophy, the second part on how the fields intersect on a pragmatic level is more specific and focuses on the critique of the so-called ‘generic’ masculine nouns and pronouns. The third part argues that both fields would benefit from a research-based cooperation and discusses how such a cosupportive relationship can be built. By presenting an overview of such interconnections, the article aims not only to expand related scholars’ interdisciplinary understandings of gender dynamics with regard to language and translation, but also to provide them with a springboard to initiate cross-disciplinary dialogues. The teaching and learning guide, by presenting ideas on how to apply the multiple intersections between feminist translation and feminist sociolinguistics in classroom contexts, extends the article’s scope by highlighting how these fields could further be interconnected through pedagogy.

The Author Recommends:

Simon, Sherry. 1996. Gender in translation: cultural identity and the politics of transmission. NY: Routledge.

This book, which is the first comprehensive study of feminist issues within the context of translation studies, is one of the must-reads in the field of feminist translation. The book not only presents the history of feminist translation within the diglossic context of Quebec, Canada, and beyond but also provides an accessible discussion of the thorny concepts of translation, identity, culture, and gender from the perspective of cultural studies and feminist theories. The book is arranged thematically in five chapters: (1) the development of feminist translation in relation to the feminist politicization of language and the practice of feminist experimental writings and translations; (2) a selective historical overview of women translators from the Renaissance onward; (3) transatlantic travels of French feminism into the Anglo-American context through translation; (4) debates surrounding the controversial feminist translations of the Bible; and (5) potential partnerships that could take place between translation studies and cultural studies accompanied by a discussion of Spivak’s postcolonial feminist translation theory. Chapters 1 and 4 are the most relevant ones for scholars looking at the intersections of feminist sociolinguistics and feminist translation.

Flotow, Luise von. 1997. Translation and gender: ‘translating in the ‘era of feminism.’ Manchester: St. Jerome.

Another must-read in the field of feminist translation, this short book offers a great introduction to the basic concepts and questions regarding the relations between translation and gender studies. The text starts with a historical overview of the Western women’s movement’s problematization of ‘patriarchal’ language and the subsequent rising of experimental feminist writing and translation practices in Canada. Then, it addresses the issues of the feminist translator’s interventions, in/visibility, and political identity. In Chapter 4, the author illustrates the various projects that the term ‘feminist translation’ encompasses: reading, criticizing, and retranslating existing ‘patriarchal’ translations; feminist retranslations of the Bible; recovering ‘lost’ women translators’ works, etc. The book ends by responding to the criticisms directed toward feminist translators. Scholars looking at the intersections of feminist sociolinguistics and feminist translation could benefit especially from Chapters 1, 2, and the part of Chapter 4 on the retranslations of the Bible (pp. 52–57).

Baxter, Robert Neal. 2005. On the need for non-sexist language in translation. The International Journal of Language, Society and Culture, 15. Online version http://www.educ.utas.edu.au/users/tle/JOURNAL/ARTICLES/2005/15-1.htm accessed December 20, 2009.

This pedagogical article argues that the topic of non-sexist and non-heterosexist language should be incorporated into translation courses to give translation students an understanding of the political implications of their linguistic choices. Baxter notes that because translators are social agents who are always embedded in heteropatriarchal social contexts, they interpret the world and texts through their social conditioning and thus reflect (often unconsciously) their hetero/sexist biases onto their translations reproducing gender hierarchies and heteronormativity. To illustrate the urgency of such training, he discusses a translation experiment where he asked his students to translate a gender-neutral Galician sentence into English describing a romantic scene. The findings reveal how heteronormativity is persistently re/produced in translations. Baxter also discusses a second study exploring how translation students stereotypically assign gender to the seemingly gender-neutral categories such as doctor, teacher, secretary, prime minister, patient, and student. The article is useful not only because it shows the importance of integrating feminist sociolinguistics into the translation curricula, but also because it provides the test sentences used in the experiments, which can be adapted by other scholars to conduct similar experiments in other sociolinguistic contexts or to create classroom exercises (see ‘Learning exercise # 4’ below for details on how to incorporate this source in language and translation courses).

Newmark, Peter. 1994. Sexist language in translation. Lebende Sprachen, 39(3). 114.

This one-page essay discusses the topic of translating sexist language and argues for the elimination of sexist translation. Newmark talks about the need for translators to avoid using linguistic ‘he/man’ forms and reproducing gender inequalities in their works, and the responsibility of translation teachers to train their students on this crucial issue. Emphasizing the tenacious nature of the systematic male oppression and exploitation of women, he claims that the termination of gender oppression and exploitation can happen only slowly through constant and persistent activism and humorously ends the essay saying that ‘for this reason, as a teacher of translation, I condemn and cross out sexist language, but I don’t take off marks for it – yet’. Due to its brevity, this essay can easily be squeezed into both feminist translation and sociolinguistics syllabi.

Susam-Sarajeva, Şebnem. 2005. A course on ‘gender and translation’: as an indicator of certain gaps in the research on the topic. Gender, sex and translation: the manipulation of identities, ed. by José Santaemilia, 161–76. Manchester: St. Jerome.

In this pedagogical essay, the author first describes the ‘translation and gender’ course that she taught in a Finnish university and then discusses the problems, implications, and potentials of the course for both translation and women’s studies disciplines. Overall, she argues that while the course was useful in increasing the students’ awareness of gender politics in relation to translation issues, some difficulties arose with regard to the target audience, genre of the source text, the global positions of the languages involved, the issue of fidelity, and the feminist perspectives underlying translation practices. This could be a useful source for both teachers of translation and sociolinguistics as it highlights the importance of including linguistic gender issues in translation courses, especially in the beginning of the semester, as these constitute the foundation of feminist translation. The author notes that she brought up these issues in the second lecture and led students to engage in a discussion about inclusive language, grammatical gender, marked vs. unmarked words, etc. Her description of the students’ reactions seems quite promising.

Harvey, Keith. 2004. Translating camp talk: gay identities and cultural transfer. The translation studies reader, 2nd edn, ed. by Lawrence Venuti, 402–22. New York: Routledge.

In this article, Harvey examines literary translations of ‘camp talk’ (a speech style usually associated with homosexual men) between French and English. After explaining the multiple linguistic and social dimensions of camp talk, he analyzes extracts from French–English and English–French translations of two novels. Because Harvey pays close attention to linguistic elements and translation politics, as well as gender and sexuality politics, this article is very suitable for courses emphasizing the interconnections between feminist translation and sociolinguistics. The text could especially be useful to expand the scope of such courses from a gender-only focus to a more intersectional approach to identity categories and power relations.

Hellinger, Marlis and Hadumod Bußmann, eds. 2001, 2002, 2003. Gender across languages, 3 volumes. Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

This 3-volume cross-cultural anthology provides invaluable data on the sociolinguistic manifestations, productions, and negotiations of gender in 30 languages. All the chapters in the anthology have the same basic structure, although there is some variation due to language-specific elements and the different states of the language and gender research in different countries. The main questions addressed in most of the chapters include the presence/absence of grammatical gender in the language, linguistic asymmetries with regard to human reference, empirical evidence on perceptions of the so-called masculine generics, the communication of gender in proverbs and insult terms, and feminist critiques of sexist language use and the issue of linguistic change in the country. The same introduction chapter by Hellinger and Bußmann is included in the beginning of each volume and provides the reader with a nice overview of the field and a good introduction into the main concepts. Teachers and students of both sociolinguistics and translation studies could choose specific chapters from this anthology depending on the linguistic and cultural scope of the course or their research interests. This anthology will prove an invaluable source especially for scholars working on languages where, unlike English, gender and language research is still scarce.

Cameron, Deborah. 1992. Feminism and linguistic theory, 2nd edn. NY: St. Martin’s.

This book, where Cameron presents a historical and critical overview of language and gender studies accompanied by her own theoretical position, offers a great introductory text for newcomers in both fields of feminist sociolinguistics and feminist translation studies. The major arguments can be summarized as follows: Women’s oppression is closely connected to language. Words are not inherently sexist or non-sexist, but the ways they are used by specific individuals in specific discourses and contexts make them so. Language is a tool of oppression, but it is also a tool of resistance and empowerment. The chapters that would be most beneficial to scholars working at the intersection of feminist sociolinguistics and translation include 1, 5, and 6. In Chapter 1, Cameron introduces some of the main arguments and theorists that she discusses in the rest of the book. She briefly explains how language and gender interconnect in reproducing and reinforcing women’s oppression and what kinds of linguistic reforms have been proposed by feminists to overcome such oppressive effects of language and to what cost. In Chapters 5 and 6, she looks at the notion of ‘sexist language’. Starting with deconstructing the dichotomous structure of language and reality on the basis of the feminine versus masculine binary, Cameron looks at the reflections of this binary on grammar and how this has been theorized in feminist sociolinguistics.

Henley, Nancy. M. & Joselito Abueg. 2003. A review and synthesis of research on comprehension of the masculine as a generic form in English. Estudios de Sociolingüistica, 4(2). 427–54.

This is a quantitative metaanalysis of the existing empirical studies, mostly experiments, on the comprehension of English masculine ‘generic’ linguistic forms. The study shows that ‘not only are masculine forms more likely to lead to male-oriented than to other responses, but also that this tendency is strongly evidenced in both children and adults, and that females are more likely than males to interpret masculine forms generically’ (1). The authors convincingly establish the conclusion that masculine forms do not serve as generics in English. This article could be utilized in both sociolinguistics and translation courses to provide the students with a compelling source that empirically distills many of the studies on the so-called masculine generics and to illustrate the detrimental effects of sexist language usage.

Livia, Anna. 2001. Pronoun envy: literary uses of linguistic gender. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

This is a great source on language politics as employed in feminist experimental writings in English and French, with close attention paid to feminist literary writers’ problematizations and disruptions of the linguistic (more specifically pronominal) gender systems. The literary works examined in the book, although selected from various genres, ideological perspectives, and time periods, share a feminist critique and a parodical expression of dominant gender roles. Such a discussion of feminist literary works that play with the pronominal gender systems can be very helpful in courses on feminist translation and feminist sociolinguistics. Although the source focuses only on English and French, the numerous examples and arguments provided throughout the book may be directly used or adapted by teachers to create in-class discussions on linguistic gender and/or translation exercises (see ‘Learning exercise # 2’ below for details on how to incorporate this source in language and translation courses).

Online Materials

1. http://www.erudit.org

  This is a non-profit multi-institutional digital publishing venue that disseminates several types of research documents in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. The Website is accessible in French, English, and Spanish. The database includes several articles on feminist translation and related topics. For instance, Luise von Flotow, whose book is discussed above, has several articles on feminist translation published in TTR: traduction, terminologie, redaction, a translation studies journal. These articles can be accessed for free.

2. http://www.educ.utas.edu.au/users/tle/JOURNAL/

  This is a refereed international online journal that publishes articles and reports focusing on the theoretical and practical relations between language, society, and culture. The topics covered in the journal include, but are not exclusive to general linguistics, sociolinguistics, pragmatics, discourse analysis, critical discourse analysis, interpersonal and intercultural communication, second-language learning, and translation. Because the journal addresses both sociolinguistics and translation, scholars working at the intersections of feminist sociolinguistics and feminist translation might find relevant sources, which they can access for free.

3. http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_doc_20010507_liturgiam-authenticam_en.html

  This Website includes the complete text of Liturgiam Authenticam, the document where the Vatican issues strict directions to Bible translators and prohibits gender-inclusive language. The related section on gender and translation can be found under the subtitle, ‘II. On the Translation of Liturgical Texts into Vernacular Languages’. This document is also discussed in Luise von Flotow’s 2005 article, ‘Tracing the context of translation: the example of gender’ in José Santaemilia’s edition, Gender, sex and translation: the manipulation of identities (MA: St. Jerome). The Website, when accompanied by this chapter, could be a beneficial resource for translation and sociolinguistics courses to bring up the issue of gender as it relates to language and translation issues. This document could also be utilized in a learning exercise (see ‘Learning exercise # 3’ below for details on how to incorporate this source in language and translation courses).

4. http://www.alternet.org/story/48856/

  This is a short essay criticizing the use of sexist language, especially the so-called masculine generics, authored by Sherryl Kleinman, who teaches in the Department of Sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In the essay titled, ‘Why sexist language matters’ (2007), Kleinman not only offers insights into teaching gender and language issues to undergraduate students in the context of courses that do not directly focus on linguistics (such as sociology), but also presents interesting examples and online resources, which could also be incorporated into courses on translation and sociolinguistics.

5. http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jlawler/gender.html


  Both Websites include lists of gender and language syllabi, which might be useful for teachers designing related courses.

6. http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/organisations/igala/Resources/On-line%20Materials.html

  This Website, sponsored by the International Gender and Language Association (IGLA), offers sources under three titles: online research papers, research materials, and teaching materials. While the first two sections are not rich in quantity yet, the third section includes many useful sources for teachers of gender and language: syllabi, resource archives, and a list of language and gender courses taught in several countries in the world. The Website also has an article titled, ‘Teaching language and gender’ by Jane Sunderland and Joan Swann (2007). This pedagogical article, after giving a nice overview of the history of the field of language and gender, discusses potential contents in and teaching approaches to language and gender courses. The insights as well as the bibliography of the article might be helpful for teachers organizing courses around the topics of gender, language, and translation.

Sample Unit

The following portion of a syllabus is designed to fit into both translation and sociolinguistics courses with readings representatively selected from both fields of study. Although it starts as ‘Week I’, this partial syllabus might yield better results if it is not used immediately in the first couple of weeks of the semester, but rather inserted into the course schedule later in the semester. The syllabus reflects the thematic format of the article it is linked to with three sessions addressing the three intersections between feminist translation and sociolinguistic studies: theoretical, empirical, and pragmatical. The goal of the syllabus is not only to integrate the topic of gender into both kinds of courses, but also to encourage students from both fields to engage in more interdisciplinary dialogues. The class is designed for advanced undergraduate and graduate students who have competency in at least two languages.

Week I: Theoretical interconnections between feminist translation and feminist sociolinguistic studies

This is a general introduction into the theories of feminist translation and feminist sociolinguistics. While the first reading by Ergun introduces the interdisciplinary approach proposed here, the other readings represent the fields separately. However, the instructor should make sure that students build connections between all the readings and understand them in relation to each other.

Suggested Readings

Ergun, Emek. 2010. Bridging across feminist translation and sociolinguistics. Language and Linguistics Compass 4/5. 307–18.

Cameron, Deborah. 1992. Feminism and linguistic theory, 2nd edn. NY: St. Martin’s. Chapter 1, 1–17.

Flotow, Luise von. 1997. Translation and gender: ‘translating in the ‘era of feminism.’ Manchester: St. Jerome. Chapter 1, 5–13.

Simon, Sherry. 1996. Gender in translation: cultural identity and the politics of transmission. NY: Routledge. Chapter 1, 1–38.

Suggested Learning Exercise

Learning exercise # 1 (see below for details)

Week II: Empirical interconnections between feminist translation and feminist sociolinguistic studies

During this week, students learn about how feminist translation and feminist sociolinguistics could build research-based relations on the basis of the feminist critique of hetero/sexist language usage. Again, the readings from the two fields should be approached in relation to each other to foster interdisciplinary understandings among students.

Suggested Readings

Hellinger, Marlis and Hadumod Bußmann, eds. 2001, 2002, 2003. Gender across languages, 3 volumes. Philadelphia: John Benjamins. (From this anthology, the instructor should select specific chapters that focus on the languages addressed in the course or the introduction chapter.)

Henley, Nancy. M. & Joselito Abueg. 2003. A review and synthesis of research on comprehension of the masculine as a generic form in English. Estudios de Sociolingüistica, 4(2). 427–54.

Baxter, Robert Neal. 2005. On the need for non-sexist language in translation. The International Journal of Language, Society and Culture, 15. Online version http://www.educ.utas.edu.au/users/tle/JOURNAL/ARTICLES/2005/15-1.htm accessed December 20, 2009.

Harvey, Keith. 2004. Translating camp talk: gay identities and cultural transfer. The translation studies reader, 2nd edn, ed. by Lawrence Venuti, 402–22. New York: Routledge.

Suggested Learning Exercise

Learning exercise # 4 (see below for details)

Week III: Pragmatic interconnections between feminist translation and feminist sociolinguistic studies

This is the week when students learn about the pragmatic intersections between feminist sociolinguistics and feminist translation. Students not only read scholarly articles and engage in class discussions on such interconnections, but also ‘get their hands dirty’ by applying what they have learned so far through the translation and language use exercises discussed below. Because these exercises form the core of this week’s classes, the assigned readings are relatively shorter.

Suggested Readings

Kleinman, Sherryl. 2007. Why sexist language matters. Online version http://www.alternet.org/story/48856/ accessed January 15, 2008.

Cameron, chapter 6, 99–127.

Newmark, Peter. 1994. Sexist language in translation. Lebende Sprachen, 39(3). 114.

Flotow, chapter 2, 14–34.

Suggested Learning Exercises

Learning exercise # 2 and/or 3 (see below for details)

Learning exercise # 5 (see below for details)

Focus Questions

  • 1 In what ways could feminist translation practices support language reform activities challenging sexist language usage?
  • 2 In what ways could language reform activities help feminist translation practices?
  • 3 What are some of the linguistic challenges in practicing feminist translation in the context of your mother tongue/s? Can you think of any solutions to these challenges?
  • 4 What are some of the sociocultural and institutional challenges in practicing feminist translation in the context of your country? How could these challenges be overcome or mitigated?
  • 5 Can you think of other areas of interconnections between feminist translation studies and feminist sociolinguistics?
  • 6 Can you think of other political areas of interconnections between translation studies and sociolinguistics in general? (e.g. Racism? Colonialism?)
  • 7 Can you think of other sociolinguistic issues that would have important implications for feminist translation practices? (e.g. active/passive voice)

Learning Exercises

Learning exercise # 1: The prevalent use of ‘generic’ masculine forms across languages

The purpose of this exercise is to increase students’ awareness of the prevalent use of the so-called generic masculine forms across languages. The exercise can be conducted before or after the instructor introduces the topic of sexist language use in the classroom. Ask students to translate sentences that include the following categories: (1) masculine nominal forms that are used as ‘generics’ in the sociolinguistic context in which the course takes place (e.g. chairman, mankind, congressman, etc. in the context of English), (2) nouns that are linguistically gender-neutral but stereotypically refer to men or women in the sociolinguistic context in which the course takes place (e.g. flight attendant, secretary in the context of American English), (3) nouns that are gender-neutral, at least on the surface, in the sociolinguistic context in which the course takes place (e.g. humanity, people, children, etc. in the context of English). Then, ask students to read aloud some of their translations to see whether they have used masculine, feminine, or gender-neutral forms and also ask them to explain the reasons behind their linguistic decisions. Then, foster a class discussion on the political implications of their decisions. This translation exercise would not only motivate students to problematize certain linguistic gender constructions, but also increase their awareness on their own use of gendered language and on cross-cultural variations of the issue as they have to work with at least two languages and cultures. The exercise should be designed by taking into account the specific linguistic structures and gender belief systems underlying the languages addressed in the course.

Learning exercise # 2: The use of linguistic gender forms in feminist experimental writings and their translations

The purpose of this exercise is to acquaint students with feminist experimental writings and translations, where linguistic gender forms are problematized, exploited, and subverted to achieve textual activism. Livia’s 2001 book, discussed above, offers great examples of such feminist experimental writings and thus could be useful in designing this learning exercise (although students need to have competency in English or French). Choose one of the literary works discussed in Livia and select specific extracts from the work that are ripe for raising questions on linguistic gender constructions. Also, have students read Livia’s discussion of this text. If the work has already been translated into the language/s of the class, have students do a comparative analysis of the source and target texts by asking them to pay special attention to the translations of linguistic gender forms, especially gender pronouns. If the work has not been translated into the language/s of the class, ask students to translate the selected extracts themselves into a language they are familiar with. Also, ask students to write a self-reflective paper on the translation process referring at the same time to the arguments Livia makes in her book (the focus of the paper should be on the translation of linguistic gender forms). You can further complicate the exercise by asking students to analyze and comment on each other’s translations. Due to its time-consuming nature, the translation part of this exercise might be given as a homework assignment, and then students can do the analysis and discussion parts in the classroom. This exercise would prove productive especially if the languages employed in the course have different linguistic gender systems (e.g. between Turkish or Finnish and English or French).

Learning exercise # 3: Feminist problematizations and translations of linguistic gender forms

This exercise, which is similar to, but larger in scope than, the learning exercise 2, aims to familiarize students with actual feminist translation practices that openly problematize and disrupt traditional linguistic gender constructions. Although there are only two text suggestions here, the instructors might have to select other texts written in other languages based on the languages covered in their courses. Ask students to read an excerpt from a feminist translation accompanied by the translator’s preface and to compare it with the source text. For instance, Susanne de Lotbinière-Harwood’s feminist translation (from French into English) of Lise Gauvin’s Lettres d’une autre (1989) offers a good sample, because the book has a very informative translator’s preface discussing gender pronoun issues. After reading the translator’s explanations on her use of gender pronouns, the students can raise their own critical perspectives on the issue. The second text, and a much more controversial one, that could be used in this exercise is the feminist translations of the Bible. Here, the students will compare a traditional and a feminist translation of the Bible. After choosing a specific section from the translations, ask students to analyze the use of generic linguistic forms in these extracts. Then, initiate a class discussion on the political implications of translation decisions exemplified in these texts regarding the use of masculine and gender-neutral generic forms. This exercise could be accompanied by the Vatican’s Liturgiam Authenticam document (discussed above under ‘Online Materials’), which could help students see the institutional and political aspects of translation more clearly. Finally, it should be noted that finding such feminist translation samples in many languages might be hard because feminist translation has mostly been practiced in Canada, the US, and some European countries, particularly in French, English, and German. Hence, the instructor might have to create such a sample to make use of this proposed exercise, which would not only give students an opportunity to put abstract feminist linguistic theories into practice, but also increase their language and gender awareness at the intercultural and interdisciplinary levels.

Learning exercise # 4: Translating heteronormativity and gender stereotypes

This experimental exercise, inspired from Baxter’s (2005) article discussed above, aims to reveal the normativity of heterosexuality and the pervasiveness of gender stereotypes, which are often reproduced by students raised and positioned in hetero/sexist societies. In order for this article to achieve its full eye-opening effect, it needs to be conducted before students start reading feminist critiques of linguistic sexism. Therefore, conduct the experiment at the end of the class before Week I of the syllabus proposed above. For the experiment, write a short fictional paragraph describing a romantic scene between two characters without spelling out the genders of the character. Also, include some gender-stereotypes in the paragraph (e.g. you can describe one character as muscular). The examples given in Baxter’s article or in Ergun’s article (linked to this guide) might be helpful in designing this experiment. This exercise would be most effective if the languages used in it differ dramatically from each other in terms of pronominal gender systems (e.g. from Finnish, Hungarian, or Turkish, where gender pronouns do not exist, into Arabic, Czech, Danish, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Polish, Russian, Serbian, or Swedish, where gender pronoun do exist). Ask students to translate this paragraph into a language of your choice and also to write explanations with regard to the translation process. Collect and analyze students’ translations and prepare a findings sheet on how the students treated the ‘gender/sexuality ambiguity’ by paying close attention to the use of gender pronouns. Did they interpret and translate the couple as heterosexual or homosexual (gay or lesbian)? Or did they maintain the gender ambiguity of the source text in their translations? If yes, how? Did they problematize the gender and sexuality ambiguities of the source text in their explanations? In Week II of the proposed syllabus, during the discussion of Baxter’s article, distribute the results to students and facilitate a discussion. The point of this discussion is to have students understand that their linguistic decisions and pronoun choices have important implications and consequences in terms of gender and sexuality politics. Given that translators are often regarded as ‘cultural brokers’, it is extremely important for students to recognize that language and translation practices are never innocent but always connected to sociopolitical power dynamics and to have critical awareness about the ways in which their social positionality and historical situatedness affect their translations. At this point, teaching becomes crucial because translation and language scholars have a unique chance in their classrooms to raise gender and sexuality issues in relation to translation and help future translators and language users gain critical knowledge and awareness.

Learning exercise # 5: Guidelines for non-sexist use of language

The purpose of this exercise is to increase students’ awareness on language reform practices undertaken in different sociolinguistic contexts. The main resource of the exercise is institutional guidelines for non-sexist or gender-fair use of language, which, however, do not exist for all languages yet. Many of the existent guidelines for non-sexist language use can be accessed online. While such guidelines can be found for Dutch, English (the one with most resources), French, German, Greek, Italian, Spanish, and Swedish, there are other languages such as Czech, Danish, Polish, Romanian, Russian, and Turkish, where similar guidelines are yet to be produced (see Hellinger & Bußmann 2001–2003 for details). Because different languages have different resources providing guidance on non-sexist language usage, instructors should develop their teaching strategies according to available resources. If any of the languages covered in the course has such a guideline, distribute copies of it (or extracts from it) and copies of a sexist text in class and ask students to translate (within the same language) the sexist text into a non-sexist one using the principles of the guideline. In addition to this intralingual translation exercise, you can also ask students to translate a sexist text into another language by following the directions of the guideline. These guidelines can help concretize theoretical discussions on language reform, and the translation exercises could be productive in encouraging students to practice the guidelines. On the other hand, while working with languages that do not have guidelines yet, the students could engage in group-projects to create small-scale non-sexist guidelines (which could be adapted from guidelines for other languages) and have each other ‘try on’ these principles through in-class translation exercises.