perception of gender in names

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jun 10 20:27:02 UTC 2002

At 1:01 PM -0700 6/10/02, FRITZ JUENGLING wrote:
>Laurie Bauer is originally from the Uk, I believe. Laurie, are you out there?
>In the US, Robin can go either way, as can Toni, Jerry, Lynn, and a
>host of others. I have a female colleague whose name is Michael.  My
>brother-in-law's name is Kerry, which sounds to me like a female
>name.  Of course, many of the names that can go either way have
>different spellings, depending on whether males or females have them.

Sometimes the orthography is sex-specific even when the names
themselves (as pronounced) are epicene.  To be sure, there are names
like Lynn, Kerry, Robin, and even on occasion Michael (as well as
Chris, Lee, Tracy, Stacy, et al.) that can be and are used for both
males and females with the same spelling.  But generally in the US we
distinguish Tony for males vs. Toni for females, Jerry/Gerry for
males vs. Jeri/Ger(r)i for females, and so on.  Typically the -i
ending is unambiguously female (Teri or Terri) while the -y ending
may be male or may remain undeterdetermined for gender (Terry).  And
sometimes the female version may be -ie (Bobbie or Bobbi, female vs.
Bobby, male).


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