Han, denne och han eller hon : Om generiska pronomen i juridisk myndighetstext
In this paper, generic reference in a collection of juridical texts is examined, with focus on third person singular pronouns. The object of the study is to find out which generic pronouns occur in the material along with their relative distribution, but also to display further use patterns and to offer plausible explanations for these patterns. Another object is to evaluate whether the use of generic pronouns corresponds with language planners’ recommendations for non-sexist language. The corpus studied consists of Rikspolisstyrelsens författningssamling (“Statute Book of the Swedish National Police Board”), comprising 172 documents written between 1974 and 2009.
The study is divided into two parts. In the quantitative part, the occurrence of generic pronouns in the material is studied, as well as changes in distribution over time. In the qualitative part, the use of the pronouns is more closely examined, with regard to specific referents and textual contexts.
The main findings are as follows. Only three out of seven examined generic pronouns appear in the material. The gender neutral han eller hon and the masculine denne are predominant, while the masculine han is relatively scarce. Seen over time, han has diminished considerably whereas han eller hon and denne have increased greatly. A general feature of the material is that the use of pronouns is inconsistent, but several patterns, overlapping each other, are nevertheless discernible. The use of generic pronouns does not entirely correspond with language planners’ recommendations. It is true that linguistic directives and initiatives seem to have had a direct or indirect impact on the material, which appears from an increased and extended, sometimes even surprising, use of han eller hon (for instance regarding referents within the police field and referents associated with weapons), as well as from a decreased and limited use of han. However, denne is still prevalent, possibly as a substitute for the disdained han, and on the whole masculine reference is prevailing in the material.
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