From chairman to chairwoman to chairperson

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This paper analyzes data from written and spoken corpora of British, American, Australian and New Zealand English to track social change in patterns of gender-marking. Frequency data for the use of general terms like <i>woman</i> and <i>man</i> are compared across the different regional varieties of written English, and contrasted with spoken corpus data from Australia and New Zealand. Several alternative social interpretations of the data are considered and discussed. The distributional patterns for occupational terms in the corpora are examined with regard to gender pre-modification and post-modification. The results indicate that female roles are often still explicitly linguistically marked, but this could be interpreted as an indication of women&#8217;s entry into formerly male-centric domains. The most recent Australian data suggest a move towards gender neutrality.


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