Epicene pronouns in intermediate to advanced EFL writing

A1 Journal article (refereed)

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Charlotte Stormbom
Publisher: John Benjamins Publishing Company
Publication year: 2018
Journal: International Journal of Learner Corpus Research
Journal acronym: IJLCR
Volume number: 4
Issue number: 1
Start page: 1
End page: 22


Since the second wave of feminism, non-sexist language use has become an
increasingly important topic. A key issue in English is the choice of
epicene pronouns, i.e. pronouns that refer to both sexes. Despite the
global nature of English, little research has addressed this topic in
EFL contexts. This study examines the use of the epicene pronouns he, he or she, and they in two L1 and L2 corpora of student writing. The corpus analyses show that, overall, the L2 English speakers use he significantly more than the L1 speakers, whereas the L1 speakers use they more. Variation found in the L2 subcorpora seems to be partly related to L1 influence: The writers who use he
the most are speakers of gendered L1s with a traditional practice of
masculine generics. The study also shows that both L1 and L2 writers are
affected by the antecedent type in their pronoun choice.


advanced EFL writing, epicene pronouns, gender-inclusive language, singular they


Last updated on 2020-05-08 at 05:51