Learning a Language of Sexuality

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Language, Gender and Sexuality book series (PSLGS)


This chapter examines how people learned discretion, responses to surveillance, and other linguistic practices expressing messages about sexual sameness before Stonewall. Direct mentoring was helpful, and so was overhearing (Bubel in Journal of Pragmatics 40:55–71, 2008), instances where the learner gained new information while observing, as a third-party observing language use between others. Print resources were helpful, whether dedicated to homosexual interests or written for a general audience and open to a sexualized reading. Enlistment in the US military and women’s softball playing and spectatorship offered contexts that encouraged language learning through immersion and through translanguaging, incorporating new knowledge about sexual language into their existing linguistic knowledge base, producing “confluences of scripts” in various forms (Provencher in Gay French: Globalization, Language and Sexual Citizenship in France, Ashgate, Aldershot, 2017) related to sexual sameness.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies ProgramFlorida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyAmerican UniversityWashington, D.C.USA

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