Структурно-семантические способы репрезентации гендера в словаре гендерных терминов

Structural-semantic methods of gender representation through the dictionary of gender terms

Dictionary of gender terms is of an encyclopedic type, the first extended (378 entries) lexicographic edition of Russian gender terms, as well as with their English versions. Under Gender terms words and phrases of professional speech indicating the specific terms of gender studies, integrating scientific knowledge from the spheres of philosophy, sociology, political science, cultural studies, psychology, linguistics, literature, history, partly sexology are meant. The publication includes entries of 49 researchers from Russia and CIS countries. It is intended for researchers, teachers and students, journalists, representatives of government and administration, members of social movements, as well as the overall gender education for Russian and Uzbek speaking society to form adopted in the world modern ideas about the equality of women and men. Most articles of the dictionary are – authors’/authorized. Many articles have been written by authors specifically for this edition; in some cases, the author points out texts published in his/her earlier research articles, textbooks and manuals, sometimes unpublished lectures, where the editor of the dictionary selected information needed to describe the meaning of the term. On the basis of these data entries were created, the final version of which was agreed with the author. The need of lexicographic description of terminology Gender Studies – in the form of terminological dictionary or encyclopedic version – was realized a long time in the gender community and attempts to start a terminological work were undertaken, in particular, at the Moscow Center of Gender Studies (on the web-site of the organization, as well as in the published Anthology of the course "Fundamentals of gender Studies" containing the definitions of more than a dozen of terms. One of the first appeared brief conceptual dictionary on gender studies, compiled in 1998, by Russian theorist I.E. Kalabikhina, includes definitions and comments regarding many concepts, mainly from the field of economics. A glossary summarizing the terms of gender studies from different sciences was published in 2001 by Altai regional women's NGO "Otklik”. It includes a brief    definition and descriptive characteristics of the various lexicographical sources – for example, in the Public Dictionary of psychology, sociology, and social work and other dictionaries – in economics, philosophy, as well as the texts of scientific articles.

Abroad, we know the results of lexicographical terminology development of gender studies are focusing thematically, mainly in terms of the discourse of the women's movement, with the inclusion of the terms of women's studies. Thereby, appeared a Dutch women’s thesaurus, its translation (in 1998) was the basis for the English-speaking European Women's Thesaurus, recently  has been translated into Croatian and published as an English-Croatian thesaurus. This thesaurus contains, in particular, alphabetical lists of terms by subject areas (e.g. the right, the women's movement) and lexical-semantic references entries that contain: a short definition, synonym or variant of the term, citing more general and more private concept in relation to the described term, as well as the number of concepts referring to the concept associatively. These data allow them to use the thesaurus in creating libraries automated retrieval systems for the literature on the subject, which is defined by the authors as "female". This thematic area is widely interpreted by the authors as it includes, for example, the term sports outdoors. Thesaurus is actively promoted by its compilers within the project, by which the members of women's organizations from different countries are trained to use it, as well as to replenish. Authors of Russian scientific texts often refer to the published in 1986 an English Encyclopedia of Feminism by Liz Tuttle[1]. They also admit that there are a few English publications, inaccessible in Russian country. A small English "Gender Glossary" (about 30 units of description) appeared recently on the web-site of the UN, it summarizes the "public" definitions of terms used in the organization of documents.

There are lexicographical results in the implementation of different approaches: when attempts were made to describe the terms of a specific area (eg, macroeconomics) from a gender perspective. This approach is realized with the creation of gender glossary of macroeconomic terms by Patricia Alexander and Sally Baden[2]. Created initially in English, and later it was translated into the Russian language and the text appeared on Internet. At the beginning of the project the authors needed to answer the questions, each of which required a special preliminary study. Answers to these questions were not obvious even after the publication of the dictionary. The first question has the same origins as the question of the legality of the institutionalization of gender studies as such. For terminologist this question is formed as: whether there is "gender terminology" and what are its limits? What can be considered as "gender terms"? One of the issues that has a practical value - what should be the principles of selection of units for the dictionary.

In the dictionary, under the terms scholars understand words and phrases denoting specific terms of gender studies, recorded in the practice of professional speech. These studies integrate the relevant scientific knowledge in the field of philosophy, sociology, psychology, political science, cultural studies and linguistics, literature, history, law, part of sexology: by definition of  O.A.Voronina, " Gender Studies examine what roles, norms, values, characters does the society prescribe for women and men through the socialization system, the division of labor, cultural values and symbols to build a traditional …“ hierarchy of authority[3]”. Thus, gender studies integrate scientific knowledge of more than ten humanities, each of which has its own more or less autonomous conceptual apparatus. This fact makes problematic the existence of gender terminology as gender term system like in other humanities. The term system – a sign model of specific theory of special area of knowledge or activity, elements of which are lexical units – words and phrases of specific language for special purposes, and the structure is overall adequate to the structure of the concepts of the given theory. Dual systemacy of terms (as the element of the lexical system correlated with the element of a certain logical system of concepts of science) makes special paradigmatic in terminology. Therefore, the simple answer to this question without a special system – semantic research of terminology of gender studies (both in terms of paradigmatics in terminology and from the point of view of what makes a systematic semantic structure of the terminological units – the term of gender studies) – is impossible. The first arguments that such terminosystem exists has been proved during the development of Gender Terms Thesaurus as a linguistic support for search library system. This thesaurus, in fact, describes the systematic-semantic relations of the concepts. There are "through” key concepts that have the highest number of semantic relations structuring this system as a whole. These concepts as gender, gender asymmetry, gender identity, male dominance, gender relations, gender discrimination, or discrimination based on gender, femininity, masculinity, sexuality, gender stereotypes, and others. Of course, these data are not enough to make a full-fledged conclusion towards boundaries of gender term system, its paradigmatic organization. Russian terminology as well as Uzbek terminology of gender researches are in the process of formation – this is confirmed by the study of semantic structures of polysemantic  terms of  gender studies: description of various scientific terminology indicates that in  the term system that has developed a long time ago, there is a tendency of withdrawal of polysemy of terms in the development of scientific concepts: each of the meanings of polysemantic terms usually gets its own nomination, and it can be a source of synonymy or variation, when the "old" name of one of the meanings of polysemantic term used for some time along with the new name. In the process of studying the described terminology we have faced with a large number of polysemantic terms: for example, the term feminism – this is a theory of equality based on the movement for the emancipation of women, and a synonym for the women's movement; women's literature has a meaning that is fixed in literary criticism; gender policy is the policy on the evaluation and solution of gender problems, and a synonym for gender-sensitive policy.

Synonymous series are undesirable in the established terminology: masculinity, manliness and manhood; femininity, femininity, femaleness and womanhood; names of sexual minorities – homosexuals, gays, discriminative homosexuals; sexual characters, sex, gender and others.

 Unnecessary association appears using the term “sexual characters” (половой признак) with the same biological terms (primary sexual characters, secondary sexual characters), which leads to the false biologization of the context. Thus, it is preferable to use another term – “gender character” – признак пола (gender discrimination, professional segregation by gender character, differentiation of labor by gender, etc…).

According to Russian linguist A.A. Denisova terms for inclusion to the dictionary were selected on the base of educational focus of the project according to the following criteria: the degree of importance of the term for the gender concepts system as a whole; level of educational potential of the concept; tightness in the professional speech.

Another problem related to the comprehension of gender terminology boundaries: dictionary includes terms in which gender component of meaning is not expressed explicitly. It can hardly be argued that the term нация is actually the term of gender studies, but nevertheless it is fixed in the dictionary as institutions of the nation and its ideology are gender-structured, and it has become a study subject of gender researches. According to the well-known aphorism by J. Powell, nation is a "two men plus the protection of women and children in a certain area".

Many problems on gender terminology studies are due to the fact that in a very short period of time – just 10-15 years – many of the concepts of gender studies in the Russian language as well as Uzbek came mainly from English, and more or less successfully mastered by Russian language. They came from different sources – not always from gender studies, to which women's studies is gradually transformed, but also from Western feminist discourse. Compilers of Anthology of feminist texts E.Zdravomyslova and A. Temkina, in our opinion, quite rightly define the feminist discursive situation in Russia as a self-regulating discursive chaos, and thus makes the co-author- translator responsible, because often he/she  is the creator of the categorical apparatus in formation a new field[4]. Among many other problems associated with the translation the following is noted as important: there is no generally accepted tradition of translation of many terms that have come as a unit of the English language. The Russian language actively resists that was created within the other word – forming system: there is a significant number of calques in terminology of gender studies. The term вуменизм – from English. Woman –  a kind of black feminism –  remains as calque, word-forming systems of the Russian language can nothing create similar, and that is understandable. But recently appeared term сексолект used in criminalistics, has already been used in the Russian-language discourse (denotes a set of phonological characteristics of speech that allows to distinguish male from the female speech).

There are difficulties in the creation of Russian names of the international strategies of women’s interest advancement: women’s empowerment translated in different texts as обретение силы, расширение возможностей женщин, или усиление влияния женщин на характер власти.These word-combinations don’t sound terminologically, in Russian translation the first meaning of the English word empowerment –обретение силы was used, but there is the second meaning наделение полномочиями, which was used in translating into Ukrainian. Russian variants of the term – one nomination comes actually from the translation as обретение силы while, the second one is from descriptive interpretation of the concept like усиление влияния женщин на характер власти. In oral professional speech, according to our observations, the calque from the English word empowerment is often used.

The term empowerment originated about 15 years ago. All this time the term is being used in the discussions of such topics as "international development and policies aimed at promoting the interests of women."

In feminist discourse the concept is developed in the promotion of a more general concept that refers to a non-governmental self-organization of margin groups. Strategy involves a collective activity of building power "from below" in order to change the very nature of power in which these groups will be able to possess wide opportunities of social activity and responsibility. In the political programs of the United Nations the English term is sometimes used to refer to the concept of a very uncertain meaning in some contexts defines political participation of women.

The term denoting a different strategy to promote gender equality – gender mainstreaming (complex approach to gender equality problem) – in a professional speech sounds again as calque from English – mainstreaming. In addition, it must be recognized that certain terms in English have emerged as the so-called feminist neologisms – as herstory, instead of history.

Dictionary was created as part of the educational project, and this has identified some of its features. Hence, described terms should not be perceived as a purely linguistic definition of scientific concepts that are not related to everyday life. Therefore, the authors of the entries tried - as much as possible, to make "visible" correlative relationship between professional concept and social "practice". For example, there is an indirect link between economic concept of women's unpaid work and well known – women's pension. This approach will increase the value of gender studies in the eyes of the public, pointing indirectly to the possible mechanism of occurrence of changes in a particular real situation.

It is worth to mention, that this dictionary has served as an important and useful material for our dissertation paper. Having enlightened researches knowledge on gender issues, it leads them for further scientific researches.

List of used literature:

  1. Словарь гендерных терминов. Под. Ред. А.А. Денисовой. Региональная общественная организация “Восток - Запад: Женские Инновационные проекты” М: Информация – XXI, 2002. – 256 с.
  2. Калабихина И.Е. Краткий понятийный словарь по гендерным исследованием. М., 1998.
  3. Гендер: общедоступный словарь – справочник  / Под. Ред. Л. Г. Гусляковой, С. Г. Судовой. Барнаул, 2001-92 с.
  4. Общедоступный словарь по психологии, социологии и социальной работы / Под общей ред. С.И. Григорьева. Барнаул, 1991.
  5. Pojmovnic zenske terminologije = Thesaurus of women’s terminology / < prerideli Suncica Damjonovic, Nada Dzaja Vrban, BosiljkaTarbuk  Pupovac>. – Zagreb: Zenska infoteka, 2000.


[1] Tuttle N. Encyclopedia of feminism. New York, Oxford, 1986

[2] Александр Патрисия, Баден Салли. Гендерный глоссарий макроэкономических терминов. / Пер. с англ./ Institute of Development Studies and Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische  Zusammenarbeit (GTZ). –  2000.


[3] Словарь гендерных терминов. Под. ред. А.А. Денисовой. Региональная общественная организация “Восток- Запад: Женские Инновационные проекты” М: Информация – XXI, 2002. – 256 с. Стр,22.


[4] Хрестоматия феминистских текстов. Переводы. //Под ред. Е. Здравомыловой,  А. Темкиной. СПб.: Дмитрий Буланин, 2000.