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The sociolinguistics of gender, social status and masculinity in Aristophanes

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McDonald, Katherine 


jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pThis article explores variation in the language of male characters in the plays of the Athenian playwright Aristophanes, usingjats:italicThesmophoriazusae</jats:italic>andjats:italicFrogs</jats:italic>as in-depth case studies. Studies of modern languages have shown that men’s linguistic practices can be just as marked for gender as women’s, and the data from these plays bears this out. Using past work on ‘female speech’ as a starting point, this article explores the incidence of gendered markers in male characters’ speech, and shows that some of these features characterise not just gender but the intersection of different aspects of identity including gender, social class and sexuality. These features include particular oaths, obscenities, certain uses of the particlejats:italicge</jats:italic>, hedging and politeness strategies. The article shows that a lack of male-associated speech markers is enough to characterise a male Greek speaker as ‘unmanly’, without the addition of female-associated speech markers.</jats:p>


This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from De Gruyter via


ancient sociolinguistics, ancient Greek, masculinity, gender linguistics

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Journal of Historical Sociolinguistics

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Walter de Gruyter GmbH