SEX Lex Survey Query

carljweber carljweber at MSN.COM
Wed Jan 2 16:00:54 UTC 2002

SEX Lex Survey Query

Carl Jeffrey Weber

Dear Linguists and Philologists,

Please help identify the phenomenon behind the statistics. "Media bias" has
recently been discussed in the news. I devised a simple method to generate
data, perhaps relevant to personal pronoun etymology, demographic trends,
cultural change, etc. What do the following data support, prove, and/or
disprove? Are you surprised -- would you have predicted the data?


My search engine, MSN, shows the following inputs/hits:

spokesman, 41 ; spokeswoman 374,090

chairman, 362 ; chairwoman, 80,878

fireman, 25 ; firewoman 1443

postman, 50 ; postwoman, 405

alderman, 19 ; alderwoman, 1121


Yahoo search:     spokesman,  21 ; spokeswoman, 341,000, etc.


When your comments are unposted to public discussion, all correspondence
sent to me is confidential in this survey.

In your SEX Lex Survey Query response, comment on anything. Note the
following: The American Dialect Society voted the word "she" to be "Word of
the Millennium." Would you say that the tremendously increased workload of
this pronoun suggested by the search/hits data supports and confirms the
choice? Why? How do you, as a sociolinguist, interpret this data? How would
sex and gender experts in linguistics, who monitor such things, interpret

Carl Jeffrey Weber,
Linguistics Investigator

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