Semantic correlation in the paradigm of explicitly marked maskulinisms in English
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №6 - 2014
Author: Fedorova Olesia , Khmelnytskyi Humanitarian-Pedagogical Academy, Ukraine
Assessment of language as a mirror of the
world is commonly accepted. Among all aspects of the multifaceted world a human
being is the most interesting thing to see in the language mirror. The current
anthropological turn in linguistics, emergence and rapid development of
human-oriented branches of linguistics can be explained by the need to
understand a human being. Gender linguistics is focuses on language reflection
of sexual and gender characteristics of a person. Masculinity and means of its
representation in language is a problem which is still under discussion in
academic circles and in need of a thorough investigation.
The number of works devoted to the
description of means and methods of masculinity representation in English and
other languages is big enough to cover thoroughly most aspects of the problem,
including the linguistic features of the concept "man ", linguistic
expression of masculinity as a social and cultural category of gender, the
construction of gender in discourse, features of male verbal behavior, the
dynamic aspects of the masculinity representation in language, and many-sided detection
of stereotyped use of language units denoting a man [1, 3, 4, 5], but the
question of the semantic value of masculinity markers, their status, age and
relational connotation remains unresolved.
The purpose of the article is to analyze
and compare the semantic value of masculinity markers within age, relational
and status oppositions.
Modern English has extremely limited the
explicit means of marking the names of men, compared to corresponding marking
of names of women. Such elements as -man/man-, -boy/boy-, -master/master have
traditionally been seen as explicit markers of masculinity in English.
Explicit gender marker of masculinity
-man/man-. The peculiarities of masculinity marker
-man/man- usage were studied by many authors, focusing on its productivity,
valence, etymology, gender neutrality / markedness of the person’s names marked
by it, stereotyped perceptions of the latter, and discourse features and
diachronic trends of their usage.
This priority over other gender markers is
• high diachronic and synchronic
performance of the marker;
• a high proportion of its derivatives in
the total number of gender marked names of persons;
• semantic meaning (the combination of
gender neutral and gender-marked sememe in the lexemes, activation of which in
speech is socially significant and often stereotypic;
On the whole 564 names of persons
explicitly marked with -man/man- were found in lexicographic registers, which
is 52% of the total number of explicitly marked maskulinisms. The most productive
derivational model of maskulinisms with -man is "noun + -man". It is
characterized by a wide range of relational models and meanings:
• "instrumentative - agentive
(M)" with the meaning "a man, using a tool X in his work", where
X – is a derivation basis (axeman, bowman, gadman, hammer-man, hatchet man);
• "objective-agentive (M)" with
the meaning "a man, that commits an act aimed at an object X, its
manufacture, maintenance, sales, etc.", where X – is a derevation basis (bookman,
brakesman, businessman, cattle man, coalman, clay-man, glassman, horseman,
meatman, muffinman, newsman, proseman, lumberman). This group includes a
very significant subgroup of maskulinisms formed on the relational model
"trasportive - agentive (M)", with the meaning "man, that drives
a vehicle X", where X – is a derivation basis (boatman, bulldozerman,
cabman, carman, cartman, coachman, draftsman, ferry-man, gigman);
• "inclusive-agentive (M)" with
the meaning "a man, who belongs to a group X", where X - is a
derivation basis (banksman, assemblyman, crewman, gangsman, infantryman,
juryman, militiaman, office-man);
• "locative-agentive (M)", with
the meaning "a man, that performs a specific activity or resides in
location X", where X - is a derivation basis (woodsman, townsman,
stockman, ship-man, ranchman, backroom man);
• "temporative-agentive (M)",
with the meaning "a man, performing activities within time X or by moment
X", where X – is a derivation basis (day-man, minute-man, four-minute
• “agentive - agentive (M)", with the
meaning "a man, that is a person X», where X – is a derivation basis (sailor-man,
yeggman, fellowman, boss man, liegeman);
Derivational model "Adjective +
man" is not widely used. There are no more than 5-7% maskulinisms modeled
on it. The relational model "descriptive - agentive (M)", with the
meaning "man, possessing the feature X", where X – is a derivation
basis (bad man, my man, old man, fresh man, front man, dead -man, funny man,
gentleman, superman, new man) is typical. Derivational model "Verb +
man" is even less productive. It is worth mentioning that the
identification of the basics as nominal or verbal is complicated (bindleman,
gagman, patrolman, serviceman and stuntman). In our study we were guided by
Webster's dictionary information on the type of derivation base when
determining it . Relational model "performative-agentive (M)" with
the meaning "man, performing activity X", where X – is a derevation
basis, is typical of this group of men’s names (workman, weigh-man,
watchman, repair-man, pitchman, ploughman, hangman, hit man, freezeman).
Considering marker of masculinity -man/man-
in terms of its basic and connotational meanings implementation following
pattern have been found:
• marker -man/man- is traditionally used in
the most general meaning "man" without the implication of social, age
and relational features of the referent (he-man, mass-man, everyman,
huntsman, townsman, bondsman, clergyman, Englishman);
• the portion of the lexemes, which
implement -man/man- marker’s meaning "man-worker, employee,
subordinate" is significant (aircrewman, bankman, cley-man,
feather-man, fly-man, foot-man, transit man);
• in some cases marker -man/man- activates
the meaning "husband of a woman, lover, boyfriend, father" (bridesman,
houseman, old man).
Explicit gender marker of masculinity
-boy/boy-. Explicit marker of masculinity -boy/boy-
is the second most popular marker (75 lexemes found). Like most others, this
group of masculinisms is characterized by a noun derivation model. It is quite
various in terms of relational models:
• "objectivity - agentive (M)"
with the meaning "a boy, who commits an act aimed at object X, its
manufacturing, maintenance, sales, etc.", where X – is a derivation basis (cowboy,
herd-boy, horseboy, ticket boy);
• “inclusive-agentive (M)" with the
meaning "a boy, belonging to group X", where X - is a derivation
basis (schoolboy, choir-boy, homeboy);
• "locative - agentive (M)", with
the meaning "a boy, that performs a specific activity or resides in the
X-location", where X - is a derivation basis (backroom boy, boy uptown,
hospital-boy, house-boy, shop-boy, pantry-boy);
• "agentive- agentive (M)", with
the meaning "a boy, who is a person X", where X - is a derivation
basis (lover boy, toy boy).
The second in productivity is a derivational
model "Adjective + man", which corresponds to the relational model
"descriptive - agentive (M)", with the meaning "a boy,
possessing feature X" (gold boy, big boy, blue boy). Maskulinisms
marked with -boy/boy- with a verbal basis are not numerous (flyboy,
According to Webster's dictionary, the
lexeme boy has a number of meanings. Most of them are implicated by the
marker of masculinity -boy/boy-:
• "a boy, young man (under 18)" (Boy
scout, charity-boy, choir-boy, day-boy, gown-boy, hospital boy);
• "an inexperienced young man" (hawk-boy,
ball boy, potboy, bug boy, cowboy, office-boy);
• a person of lower social status or
nation" (derogatory) (blue boy, toy boy, rah-rah boy);
• "a man" (colloquial) (backroom
boy, big boy, wide boy, boy in blue).
The marker -boy/boy- has got a
characteristic meaning "worker, employee, servant" (stockboy,
shop-boy, pantry-boy, lather boy, jack-boy, knife-boy, bus-boy, page-boy). In the paradigm of EMM -boy/boy- is the formant, which implements additional
meanings "a lover, sexually attractive man, boy" (lover boy, playboy,
rent boy, blue-eyed boy, toy boy).
Explicit gender marker of masculinity - master
(master-). Formant –master / master- is not defined
as a gender marker in modern linguistics. Studies on its productivity,
morphological status, derivative models aфre rare [2:
55]. However, considering following arguments, we believe -master/master- to be
an explicit marker of masculinity:
• as a part of a person’s name
-master/master- constantly realizes the meaning of masculinity;
• there is a steady tendency to form pairs
of semantically related masculinisms marked with -master/master- and feminitisms,
explicitly marked by semiaffixes -mistress/mistress- , -lady/lady- and others;
• In pairs such as webmaster - webmistress the only differentiating semems are "masculinity" and
"femininity"/the fact allows to define the elements exactly as gender
• Semiaffix -master/master- is both
productive in diachrony (total diachronic capacity - 128 units [2; 55]) and in
synchrony (total number of derivatives - 66).
Derivative model "noun + master",
"adjective + master" are typical of the marker - master/ master- [2:
55]. This group has such relational models:
• "deskriptive - agentive (M)"
with the meaning "master, who has feature X", where X - is a
derevation basis (dancing-masrer, drawing-master, riding-master,
• "objective-agentive (M)" with
the meaning "master, who operates an object X", where X - is a
derevation basis (horse-masrer, form-master, concert-master, toast-master);
• "locative - agentive (M)" with
the meaning "master, who works in the location X ", where X - is a
derivation basis (harbour-masrer, dock-master, station-master).
The meaning of EM -master/master- as a part
of maskulinisms is not homogeneous. Following subgroups were distinguished
according to the connotations:
• master - "agent" (paymaster,
weigh-master, bridge-master, horse-master);
• master - "a teacher, a mentor" (writing-master,
resident master, careers master, schoolmaster);
• master - "an administrator, leader,
chief" (chair-master, chapel-master, job-master);
• master - "an owner" (horse-master, barge-master, botmaster, ship-master).
Analyzing the semantic meanings of explicit
markers of masculinity, we noted some significant differences specific to each
of them and their derivatives, correspondingly. Several semantic oppositions
within the paradigms of maskulinisms marked by different markers were outlined.
Gradual opposition on base of age
connotation is quite regular among the markers of masculinity. The names of the
men marked with -boy/boy- usually imply connotations "a child, young
age" according to the main meaning of the lexeme boy (boy scout,
charity-boy, choir-boy, day-boy, gown-boy, hospital boy, schoolboy). For
example: headboy - headman, schoolboy - schoolman, scout boy - scout master,
gownboy - gownsman. However, in this group, there is the evident tendency
to express seme "an adult male" in maskulinisms marked with -boy/boy-
belonging to the spoken language, slang (backroom boy, big boy, boy with
toys, wide boy, boy in blue, boy uptown). Correspondingly, there are two
centers of distribution of maskulinisms with -boy / boy- in opposition on base
of age connotation.
Formant -man/man- is regularly involved in
the formation of men’s names of profession, occupation, as it often implies a
connotation "an adult man". But there is also a large number of
lexemes nominating men according to social status, nationality, race, religious
and cultural preferences, which significantly extends the range of age
connotations expressed by the marker. Maskulinsms marked with -master/master-
form almost a homogeneous group on basis of age connotation, due to the
specificity of the marker. It is mainly used to form the names of men involved
in management activities, owning property, property management and almost
necessarily expresses the meaning "adulthood" (chair-master,
chapel-master, job-master, workmaster, barge-master, botmaster, iron-master,
On the basis of age connotation
maskulinisms form a gradual opposition, but due to semantic ambiguity of the
markers categories of names of men in this opposition are unclear.
The next opposition, which can be clearly
seen, is determined by the connotations of status and also has a gradual structure.
Distribution of the markers in the opposition is directly proportional to their
distribution in the opposition on basis of age connotation, which is caused by
inter-dependency between the age and status characteristics of the referent.
The lowest degree in the opposition is
occupied by marker -boy/boy-, implying low-status semes "assistant to a
master, low-skilled worker, hodman" (clapper boy, bundle boy, cabin
boy, hawk-boy, office-boy, pantry-boy, stable boy), "unskilled,
low-paid worker" (bell boy, button boy, paper-boy, post-boy).
Compare: Batboy - batsman, cowboy - cowman, herdboy - herdman, newsboy -
newsman, office-boy - office-man. At the same time, there is a group of
maskulinisms marked with -boy/boy- implying a connotation of "high status"
(backroom boy, big boy, boy in blue, boy uptown). This subcategory includes
language units with age connotation "adulthood" and belongs to the spoken
Variability of status characteristics
expression can be observed in the group of maskulinisms marked with -man/man-.
The highest degree in the opposition is occupied by marker -master/master-. In
the subgroup of its derivatives the largest share is the nouns with status
connotations "head master, owner, chief". However, in the subgroup
there are no maskulinisms denoting referents with low status characteristics.
Status correlation is clearly detected among paronymous units: bargeman -
bargemaster, coalman - coalmaster, horseboy - horseman - horsemaster, headboy -
headman - headmaster. There are cases of neutralization of oppositions: sheepman
- sheepmaster, lockman - lockmaster, property man - property master.
As for the ability to express relational
characteristics (marital status, family and intimate relationships with women)
markers are also unequal. Most of lexemes that express relationships of the
men-referent with women (lover boy, playboy, blue-eyed boy, gold boy, toy boy,
boyfriend) and men (rent boy), are marked with -boy/boy-. A small percentage of
these lexemes are in the group of maskulinisms, marked with -man/man- (bridesman,
groomsman, old man). Marker -master/master- is indifferent in terms of
referent’s relational characteristics’ expression.
To sum up, we note that explicit markers of
masculinity provide a necessary means of gender identity explication and the
implication of age, status, relational characteristics of the referent. They
are productive at modern stage in many areas of language use. Featuring a
variety of semantic meanings, markers of masculinity and their derivative
lexemes fill a number of lexical and semantic noun groups.
Prospects for further research of gender
noun marketing are to identify discursive and diachronic variability of explicit
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Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №6 - 2014