Ze is Better than Hir? A Corpus-based Analysis in Digital News and Magazines

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Suttipun Klomkaew
Monthon Kanokpermpoon


The main aims of this study are to investigate the pronoun references in English news and magazines that are commonly used to refer to LGBT people, and to explore how pronoun references are used in these media towards LGBT people. The first-100 concordance lines were collected through news and magazines globally from the NOW Corpus. The non-gender specific pronouns Ze and Hir were selected and analyzed using descriptive percentage, thematic content analysis and concordance analysis. The findings unveiled that the highest frequencies of pronouns commonly used in news and magazines to refer to non-binary people were Ze (3,627 tokens) and Hir (1,177 tokens), respectively. In addition, there were sub-themes emerging from the concordance lines for the search words referring to LGBT people. The gender-neutral pronoun “Hir” was equally found to be used as a masculine type, a feminine type and a neutral type, while the non-gender specific pronoun “Ze” was found to be more neutral than masculine, without the presence of femininity at all. It is recommended that when using a pronoun to refer to LGBT people, we need to consider the appropriate pronouns, especially in printed media.

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