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BOY

Linguistic Anthropological Notes

Diederik F. Janssen

Keywords: boy (word); masculinity; ethno-linguistics; social ontology; socio-linguistics

This article proposes a linguistic anthropological approach to the notion BOY, drawing attention to diverse research methods including etymology, onomasiology, corpus analysis, semantics, discourse analysis, sociolinguistics, and comparative ethnolinguistics. As a popular and flexible lexical device, BOY may function as an operator on the received nature of manhood (by rendering it contingent on the discourse and narrative of development), but also as a possible aid in its ever-imminent bankruptcy by disengaging its stylistics from essentialist understandings of both gender and life phase. BOY, thus, lies at the heart of discussions about masculinity as it relates to performativity, language, and discourse, but, in important ways, it also exceeds and contests the confinements of gender/masculinity research.

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