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Z.Kikvidze:Gender Stereotypes in the National Identity Forging Process in Georgia:Myth-making and Myth-breaking

As a rule, any national identity forging process involves myth-making. This is to pursue the goal of furnishing one's nation with unique and ineradicable features. The present paper addresses some aspects of myth-making in the national identity forging process in Georgia, focusing on gender stereotypes. Gender, as a socio-cultural phenomenon, frequently plays an active and significant role in the process in question.

Myth-making:

Any myth-making process needs some construction material. In our case, this is language. Some copulative (dvandva) compounds in Georgian include the instances of the following type:

col-kmari ‘wife-[and]-husband’

da-ĵma ‘sister-[and]-brother’

ded-mama ‘mother-[and]-father,’ etc.

It should be mentioned that the order in question is fixed.

Judging from the order of the elements in the said compounds, some authors have claimed that this has been a linguistic testimony of how women were and are respected and esteemed in Georgia; moreover, women have been reported to have held leading positions in Georgian culture and society throughout the nation's history, as different from and even contradictory to what has been common (that is, deprivation of women) around the globe..       

Myth-breaking:

The proper linguistic study of the copulative compounds (both including and not including elements denoting humans species of both sexes) has proved that the order of elements in them has been based not on their semantic features but rather on the prosodic one, which can be presented with the following formula: P<F, that is, a preceding element is shorter than a following one. ‘Shortness’ occurs gradually: number of syllables; number of sounds contained; open syllable, etc. Hence, their order has been conditioned not by an extra-linguistic, viz. gender factors.

 It is noteworthy that proponents of the myth usually do not refer to the instances in which masculine precedes feminine (such examples do exist).

 Thus, myth-makers have taken the linguistic fact (viz. the order of elements in copulative compounds) as a product to produce a myth; for them, it was and is a point of departure to make certain statements, disregarding historical facts concerning woman’s place in this culture and the linguistic essence of the instances drawn.

The presented case is a salient illustration of some aspects of the national identity forging process, in general, and in Georgia, in particular.

    It should also be emphasized that the turns of both the 19th-20th and of the 20th-21st centuries saw these considerations. They occur in printed media, scholarly texts, internet forums, and casual and (semi-) official conversations.

Category: Abstracts | Added by: margalita (18.10.2009)
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