Experimenting with anti-languages: moving towards the de-gendering of French through translations of narrative conversations

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Romanetti, Laure
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Master of Social Practice
Unitec Institute of Technology
Gremillion, Helen
Epston, David
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
French language
gender bias
narrative therapy
Romanetti, L. (2015). Experimenting with anti-languages: moving towards the de-gendering of French through translations of narrative conversations. An unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Social Practice, Unitec Institute of Technology.
French is a highly gendered language in which the masculine gender is favoured over the feminine one. To social practitioners, linguists and feminists, this situation constitutes an injustice. The primary purpose of this thesis is to challenge grammatical rules put in place in order to maintain the masculine gender in a position of dominance. Using translations of narrative therapeutic conversations I partly de-gender my native tongue. Two research questions are asked, the first one inquiring about the techniques used to de-gender, and checking whether these techniques are compatible with discursive practices of Narrative Therapy. The second question involves a comparison of two translations belonging to two different paradigms recognised by translation studies. Could this comparison uncover inequalities potentially and intrinsically conveyed by the French language? Data for this thesis consists primarily of transcripts and two translations of these transcripts: one ‘negotiated’ and one ‘cultural’. Data also includes a reflective journal and peer review comments. The data were investigated through critical discourse analysis methods. It was concluded that the French language participates in gender imbalances leading to social injustices detrimental to both genders. The study also reveals that de-gendered French, identified as an ‘anti-language’ – a concept that is sometimes used in narrative therapy work – is compatible with narrative therapy practices and acts as an antidote to the social injustices uncovered by the comparison of the translated conversations.
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