LLF – Bât. ODG – 5e étage – Salle du conseil (533)
Yanis Da Cunha et Anne Abeillé (LLF/ Université Paris Cité)
A gender bias in syntax: evidence from English and French corpora
Some syntactic phenomena are known to be sensitive to gender. It is the case for agreement (Corbett, 1983) or word order in coordinations (Abeillé et al., 2018; Mollin, 2013, 2014). In this talk, I will shed light on another type of gender bias, namely a bias in syntactic functions: men are more often subjects than women. Richy & Burnett (2020), among others, found such a bias in linguistic examples from research papers in French. I will present a study on French and English corpora and show that the bias for men being more often subjects is found in various genres. I will take into account some possible confound factors (speaker gender, semantic roles, topicality) to look for explanations to this bias. Like Esaulova (2015), I will suggest that social gender plays a role in function assignment. Psycholinguistic correlates of this gender syntactic bias remain to be investigated further.