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How language defines us as women

Two women explain what gendered language is and why it matters.

The way we talk about gender is evolving, but what impact do words have? Kim Chakanetsa meets two women at the forefront of the study of language and asks them whether the language we speak can impact on the way we think.

Lera Boroditsky is a cognitive scientist, who moved from her native Belarus to the USA at the age of 12. She has long been fascinated by how the mind works and studies how language shapes the way we think. She argues that words can impact our thinking about gender. Lera is currently Associate Professor at the University of California, San Diego.

Sophie Bailly is Professor of Language Sciences at the University of Lorraine in Nancy, France, a country where debates about language have long been polarised. Earlier this year, the Académie Française, the guardian of the French language, gave the go-ahead for female versions of certain job titles to be used, which represented an important step for French feminists.

Produced by Jo Impey for the BBC World Service.

(l) Sophie Bailly (credit: David Mayer) and (r) Lera Boroditsky (credit: Lera Boroditsky)

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27 minutes

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