Title: To use “he/she” or “they”: That is the question.


Vol. 10(3), 2022, pp. 51-65.



Author: Cătălina Bălinișteanu-Furdu

About the author: Cătălina Bălinișteanu-Furdu is a Senior Lecturer at the Foreign Languages Department, “Vasile Alecsandri” University of Bacău, Romania. Sie graduated “Al. I. Cuza” University of Iași where, in 2011, she also defended her PhD thesis (“Die Frau in Heinrich Manns Frühwerk”) – coordinated by Prof. PhD., Dr. h. c. Andrei Hoișie-Corbea. She attended courses at University of Konstanz with an Erasmus scholarship in 2000-2001, where she came back in 2008 for a research scholarship. Her teaching activity comprises also different teaching staff mobility programs at University of Bordeaux III (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015), and University of Wroclaw (2008) and University of Montenegro (2022) where she taught Victorian literature and held lectures on the English Renaissance, as well as on Gender Studies. She has participated in more than 40 national and international conferences (in Romania and France, Ukraine, and Moldova) and published over 50 papers and articles in scientific journals/reviews.




Citation (APA style): Bălinișteanu-Furdu, C. (2022). To use “he/she” or “they”: That is the question. Studies in Linguistics, Culture, and FLT, 10(3), 51-65.


Link: SILC_2022_Vol_10_Issue_3_051-065_15.pdf


Abstract: This paper aims to underline the close connection between language and culture. Linguistic interaction is not only a series of sentences from a speaker to a hearer, but it also involves the cultural context which influences the interactants either to use political correctness or not. In recent years, native speakers as well as English teachers have been forced to deal with the abundance of terminology contrived so that people would not be offended by a ‘biased’ language which ignores/rejects their gender, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation. We try to show how sometimes an ‘unbiased’ language can have comic implications from a lexical-semantic point of view, but the goal of this discussion is to point out or even eliminate certain inequalities in society and to make the students understand these word-creations. The last part of this paper examines a questionnaire given to Romanian students which is meant to be a survey of their attitude towards the use of language with political correctness. The findings reveal the students’ opinions on gender, on societal restrictions and on (ab-)using language.

Keywords: political correctness, sexist language, equality, discriminatory practices, gender identity terms  



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